Teaching English Leadership & Life Skills (TELLS) Volunteers will work in public elementary and secondary schools with Panamanian English teachers to develop their English language skills and teaching methodologies through co-
planning and co-teaching, observation and feedback, materials development, and teacher trainings. Volunteers will prepare students and community members for better communication skills and offer extra-
curricular activities to learn and practice English through camps, clubs, or community English classes. In addition, Volunteers also work at the community level to teach leadership and life skills for youth and community members.
Volunteers will spend 2 / 3 of their time on school-based activities and 1 / 3 of their time on community-based activities focused on developing critical leadership and life skills.
Volunteers will be seen as a role model to youth and teachers.
Competitive candidates will have a strong desire to teach English, and one or more of the following criteria :
Competitive candidates will demonstrate the following skills :
Required Language Skills
Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position.
A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework within the past 8 years
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college level coursework within the past 6 years
C. Native / fluent speaker of Spanish
Candidates who do not meet the language proficiency levels above can take the language placement exams to demonstrate their level of proficiency.
Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).
Volunteers need to demonstrate an intermediate-mid level of oral and written proficiency in Spanish for community placement by the end of Pre-Service Training.
TELLS Volunteers are placed in urban, semi-urban, and rural Latino communities . A limited number of Volunteers (1-4) may be placed in indigenous communities .
The majority of TELLS communities will be Spanish-speaking and Volunteers typically live in a common Panamanian-style home made of simple concrete block and cement floors or in an adobe structure with mud floors.
Most Spanish-speaking communities for TELLS volunteers have regular to semi-regular electricity, cell phone signal, and potable water.
Some communities will not have electricity but solar panels can be purchased in Panama or a community member / the local store may offer charging at a price.
Volunteers will be required to live with a host-family during their first three months of service. After these three months, they may opt to live on their own in pre-
approved local housing that meets Peace Corps / Panama’s housing criteria.
Food and Diet :
The Panamanian diet varies according to the region and the ethnic makeup of the population. Most often the diet consists of rice, beans, bananas or plantains, yucca (cassava), and corn.
Rice and beans (kidney beans, lentils, and black-eyed peas) is the staple dish. Corn is served in many guises but is usually ground, boiled, or fried.
Sancocho is a traditional dish (somewhere between a soup and a stew) prepared with a variety of vegetables and chicken. Most rural areas have an array of fruits available, including mangoes, papayas, pineapples, avocados, oranges, and guanabanas (soursops).
The availability of garden vegetables, such as tomatoes, sweet peppers, and cucumbers, varies according to the region and the season.
The most common meats are chicken and beef, which are often deep-fried or stewed. Fish is available sporadically in coastal regions and riverside communities.
Larger towns and cities have at least one restaurant that will be familiar, such as McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, or Dairy Queen.
Some Volunteers are vegetarians, but few Panamanians follow these diets. Many volunteers start a garden in their community, and sometimes buy food in Panama City or a provincial capital.
Most have supermarkets where you can buy a wide variety of foods and imported goods.
Computer and Internet Access :
Internet access in Panama is spreading. All provincial capitals and other large towns have internet cafes. Connection speeds tend to be slow, but the service is reasonably priced and otherwise reliable.
Internet access for Volunteers is available at the Peace Corps / Panama office. Almost all volunteers have a computer or tablet.
Should you choose to bring electronics, it is your responsibility to maintain and insure it.
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Panama : Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety including crime statistics PDF in order to make a well-
informed decision about serving.
Panama is happy to accommodate cross-sector couples, as well as same-sector couples. We will identify communities with sufficient work opportunities for both volunteers.
Your partner can apply and must qualify for :
English Language Higher Education Facilitator, or
Environmental Education Volunteer
During Pre-Service Training, couples will live in separate homes, which will help improve language learning as well as cultural integration.
During their service, they will live together first with a host family and then on their own. Couples will be placed in medium to large communities, to ensure sufficient work is available for both volunteers.
Same-sector couples would be placed in larger communities while cross-sector couples would be placed in more rural communities.
Medical Considerations in Panama
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.