Co-Create Language Instruction Techniques for Virtual Learning Spaces

Activity/project background

Partner: Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo (UAEH), Centro de Lenguas (Government)

The Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo (UAEH) is the most important public university in the state of Hidalgo and is a strategic partner for Peace Corps Mexico. Its Languages Center (CeL) is a key division where English teachers receive training and linguistic research is generated by an outstanding group of academics. Virtual instruction has gained a great deal of relevance since the COVID-19 pandemic, yet linguistics education faces a numerous set of challenges given the fact that an essential part of the language learning process implies direct interaction with a native speaker. Interaction is difficult in a virtual scenario, and sessions often rely on a lecture format that frequently yields weaker results than the traditional in-person class.

There is an opportunity to join forces with this strategic partner to generate suitable virtual language teaching techniques that capitalize on the many possibilities of the virtual world, within the challenging reality of schools that lack resources. The Virtual Service Pilot Participants (VSPPs) will collaborate with research teachers of UAEH-CeL and collaborate with other VSPPs to design and implement a set of these teaching techniques. It is expected that this collaboration will strengthen the virtual instruction systems that UAEH-CeL has in operation.

UAEH-CeL has previously worked with a Peace Corps Volunteer. They understand that the role of a VSPP is very different than a two-year Volunteer.

Virtual service engagement and tasks

The VSPP will engage in the following tasks, in collaboration with two Host Country Partners:

• Develop and conduct an assessment of virtual instruction to determine what is working, what needs to be strengthened then to develop goals and phases for improvements
• Implement actions, and observe, analyze, and discuss findings
• Support virtual instructors
• Document collaboration and share results

This engagement is expected to be approximately 26 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, Mexico time. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to Zoom 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 Education, Linguistics, TEFL, TESOL, or related field

Language: Basic Spanish

Experience: 2 years of teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language

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

Education: Master’s degree or PHD in education, linguistics, or teaching (TEFL, TESOL, EFL, TESL)

Technical Skills: Familiarity with virtual engagement and communication

Language: Intermediate Spanish

• 3 years of experience teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language
• Experience developing teaching resources
• Experience in action research projects
• Experience using technology in the classroom to enhance English proficiency of students
• Experience teaching English to youth and adults through conversation

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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