Enhance Students’ Fluency in English and Critical Thinking Skills

Activity/project background

Partner: Secondary schools in Western regions of Ukraine (Government)

Teachers in Ukraine, guided by Ministry of Education reforms, strive to support students’ personal and professional growth developing their skills in problem solving, critical and analytical thinking, leadership, and social cooperation. They believe that to prepare students for further education and successful professional careers it is crucial to sustain their interest and motivation in learning English as the international language. Collaboration with Virtual Service Pilot Participants (VSPPs) will stimulate students’ interest to learn English and create a learning environment in which students will enhance English language fluency, polish their critical thinking skills, and assist them to overcome their fear of public speaking.

Teachers will organize a speaking club for 15-20 high school students at each school. The VSPPs will engage with students by building their confidence in using the English language to improve their speaking fluency, expand their vocabulary through discussions about cross-cultural topics, and offer opportunities to develop personal skills and critical thinking skills. The teachers will have the opportunity to learn new teaching approaches from the planning sessions.

The schools have 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 their Host Country Partners:

• Co-develop a digital survey tool to determine the students’ learning needs and identify priority learning objectives
• Co-plan and co-develop an engaging English club curriculum for learners of pre-intermediate/intermediate levels of English, including a range of activities that incorporate students’ feedback on speaking and listening skills development, such as presenting different aspects of modern American culture
• Co-plan and co-facilitate weekly 1-hour English club meetings focusing on language skills (speaking and listening) for 15-20 high school students (14-17 years old)
• Share with teachers teaching and reading resources for students including grammar guides, vocabulary lists, online learning platforms, and language learning applications supporting students' independent learning, including 15 club session outlines
• Share reflection and feedback with partner teachers as they co-develop, adapt, and co-pilot sessions online and discuss suggestions for improvement and ideas for new activities

This engagement is expected to be approximately 18 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, 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Ukrainian local time. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to Zoom, WhatsApp, Telegram, and email 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 with facilitation of virtual education using Zoom and online teaching platforms
• 1 year teaching English or facilitating English club activities with students pursuing EFL (English as a 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 in education, teaching, or related field

Technical Skills:
• Familiarity with virtual engagement and communication
• Skilled in adapting to various learning styles and backgrounds
• Capable of offering students advice and direction on language learning tips, developing critical thinking, and debating skills

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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