Enhance Instruction at University English Language Improvement Center

Activity/project background

Partner: Wolayita Sodo University (Government)

Wolayita Sodo University is one of the recently established public universities located in the south of Ethiopia. Current enrollment in the university is estimated to be over 40,000 students learning in more than 40 academic departments organized under 12 colleges. The English department in the College of Social Science and Humanities hosts the English Language Improvement Center (ELIC). Members of the English department are aware that they can benefit from virtual service and have shown strong interest in hosting Virtual Service Pilot Participants (VSPPs) at the University’s ELIC center.

Among the many needs expressed by instructors in the English department, there is an admission that, despite having post graduate degrees (up to PhD level in some cases), teachers use the local language while teaching in classes. Instructors resort to switching to Amharic or the vernacular language even when the courses require instructions in the target language, English. It is therefore the highest priority for the department members as well as the broader teaching staff at the university to have support and refresher courses that maximize the use of English during classroom instruction.

To address these challenges, the University is requesting a Virtual Service Pilot Participant (VSPP) to co-develop refresher courses to improve English language instruction and coursework.

ELIC has not previously worked with a Peace Corps Volunteer or a Virtual Service Pilot Participant. 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 their Host Country Partners:

• Co-assess training needs and relevant instructional materials
• Co-design refresher training course on classroom English instruction
• Co-develop and adapt relevant instructional materials
• Design activities for the purposes of in-session facilitation
• Facilitate the refresher training sessions for 2 hours per week
• Co-assess performance and progress of participants

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 and training sessions between VSPPs and Host Country Counterparts will take place during normal office hours, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Ethiopia standard time. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to Zoom, Google Meet, or WhatsApp 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 English, education, or related field

• 1 year of experience teaching English in schools
• 1 year of experience teaching English to non-native speakers

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 in English, linguistics, or teaching (TEFL, TESOL, EFL, TESL)

Technical Skills:
• Familiarity with virtual engagement and communication
• Google classroom and other online teaching platforms
• Curriculum development and lesson planning

• 1 years of professional development engagement with teachers
• Experience working with teachers outside of the U.S.
• Experience of training teachers/trainers on classroom English at any level

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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