Support English Communications Skills at Northern University


Open to all RPCVs

Activity/project background

Northern University serves vulnerable students from different parts of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Northern University offers education in a number of disciplines ranging from primary education to Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Most of the University’s graduates pursue careers as teachers in schools and colleges across the country. English classes are offered at the University and students usually start learning the language from scratch.

However, since most of the University teachers use the Grammar-Translation method to teach English, students find English communication very challenging. This impedes their engagement in international student programs, such as the exchange programs offered by Erasmsus Plus.

While the University understands that the role of a VSPP is very different than a two-year Volunteer, the University requests VSPP support to develop their students’ communication skills in the context of intercultural communication. This will support their participation in exchange programs and help them become part of the international community. This VSPP will support the priorities of PC Armenian’s TEFL project, supporting students in their academic success and empowering young people to be successful in life through enhanced English language skills.

Virtual service engagement and tasks

The VSPP will engage in the following tasks, in collaboration with their Host Country Partners:
• Co-plan (two) one –hour lessons with the counterpart supporting learners’ communication skills—listening, speaking, and intercultural communication—each week
• Teach (two) one-hour lessons each week
• Have a short (max. 30 minutes) regular check –in meeting with their Counterpart each week
• Attend monthly one – hour check-in meetings with their counterpart and Peace Corps TEFL staff to monitor the project

This engagement is expected to be approximately 12 weeks. VSPPs are expected to engage on the tasks listed above for an estimated 5-15 hours per week.

Meetings between VSPPs and Host Country Counterparts will take place during normal office hours, 9:00 am 6:00 pm Armenian standard time (UTC +4). However, the University will make the necessary adjustments to cater to the time zone needs of the VSPPs. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to Zoom, email and Facebook messenger for regular communication and collaboration. Per the Child Protection Code of Conduct, when engaging online with minors (0-18), two adults must be present.

Optional additional activities

The Peace Corps mission is to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:

  1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Goal 1 will be achieved through the VSPP's engagement and completion of the above tasks. The counterpart and VSPP may also choose to identify an activity that aligns with Goal 2. Additionally, the VSPP may identify a Goal 3 activity to implement during their engagement. See recommendations and tools for Goal 3 activities.

Essential qualifications

Education: Bachelor’s degree in any field

Experience: 1 year of classroom teaching experience

Intercultural skills and motivation: Flexible, strong cross-cultural agility, high tolerance for ambiguity, able to work independently, resourceful, creative, and genuinely motivated and capable to serve virtually

Desired qualifications

• Master’s degree OR
• Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)

Technical Skills:
• Familiarity with virtual engagement and communication

• Experience teaching University students
• Experience teaching/ facilitating intercultural or communication skills
• Experience teaching online

Partner background

Name: Northern University

Type of entity: Private Organization

Mission and goals:

Founded in 1996, Northern University initially adopted a unique mission to organize higher education for Armenian immigrants from former Soviet Republics. Today Northern University serves vulnerable students from different parts of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Many University students lost their homes and family members due to the recent war. The University offers a three-cycle system of University education and provides its graduates with a state diploma. There is also a high school and a medical college at the University.

Terms and conditions of engagement

VSPPs will be engaging with the host country partner, in coordination with Peace Corps post staff, remotely from the US. They should have access to a computer, internet, and telephone in order to enable direct engagement with the Peace Corps overseas office and the Host Country Counterpart assigned by the host country partner.

Orientation with the host country partner will be provided, within the designated virtual service hours, during the first week of virtual service via an online presentation and discussion. The host country partner will provide an overview of its organization, the local context, and how they envision collaborating with the VSPP.

The VSPP will have regular check-ins with their counterpart and bi-weekly check-ins with Peace Corps staff. Spending unstructured time with counterparts can be critical to relationship-building and is encouraged through activities such as coffee chats and informal calls within the weekly 5-15 hours.

Engagement-specific safety and security

The VSPP will receive an orientation on Peace Corps’ Child Protection Policy and how it relates to online engagement along with IT security best practices. The VSPP will be expected to follow safety and security guidelines for online engagement to ensure their safety and that of the Host Country Partner and their counterpart, and any beneficiaries of the engagement.

Supervision requirements

The VSPP will report to a designated Peace Corps staff member. The VSPP will be expected to abide by the Virtual Service Pilot Participant and Donation Agreement and Participant Principles of Engagement. The VSPP will also be expected to check in with the designated host country counterpart as assigned by the host county partner.

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