Improve Students’ English Proficiency and Job Opportunities

Activity/project background

Partner: Colegio Técnico Profesional de Purral, Ministry of Education (Government)

This Virtual Service engagement in Costa Rica will allow students, ages 16-18 of the Colegio Tecnico Profesional de Purral (CTPP) Industrial Electronics Specialty the opportunity to interact with native English speakers through conversational English workshops to enhance their English speaking, communication, and life skills. This will greatly improve the students’ career prospects, ultimately having a direct impact on them and their families. It will also allow students to improve their cross-cultural skills, which will facilitate meaningful interactions with people from other countries.

Many CTPP students come from under-resourced backgrounds and frequently face situations of violence, abuse, and intra-family aggression. Several teachers noticed that these occurrences were exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. This reality requires specialized attention from the institution’s staff to support students’ resiliency. Despite these challenges, teachers describe the student population as very affectionate, dedicated, and eager to improve. Students are aware that obtaining their school diploma from the institution will enable them to support their families and/or improve their economic situation.

This engagement with Virtual Service Pilot Participants (VSPPs) was implemented in 2022 and again in 2023 with very positive results. The CTPP teachers reported a higher level of confidence among students who previously participated in online English classes with VSPPs and that they were more relaxed in both the classroom, as well as in the companies where their professional practicum took place. Some of the students have even secured working positions in companies because of the higher level of confidence they demonstrated during their practicum.

Since the organization has previously worked with VSPPs, 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 English conversational workshops consisting of activities that strengthen the students’ ability to express themselves in the English language and support their life skills development
• Co-implement two weekly 2-hour English conversational workshops for 3-4 11th year students (ages 16-18) per VSPP (total of 4 hours per week)

Each workshop will take place during school hours between 7:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Costa Rica standard time. Each VSPP will co-implement with a local partner present in the classroom. VSPPs will coordinate topics and classroom management between themselves and the local partner to ensure consistency in the topics presented. This engagement is requesting 5 VSPPs.

This engagement is expected to be approximately 22 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, 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Costa Rica time. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to Microsoft Teams, Zoom and/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 any field

Language: Intermediate Spanish

• 2 years’ experience teaching adolescents in any subject
• Experience working with teachers, students, and other groups associated with schools

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: TEFL or TESOL Certificate

Technical Skills: Familiarity with virtual engagement and communication

Language: Advanced Spanish

• 3 years’ experience teaching adolescents on any subject
• Experience working with populations from urban-marginal sectors
• Experience teaching life skills to youth and/or vocational skills to youth

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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