English Education Teaching

Project Description

The Kyrgyz Republic, commonly referred to as Kyrgyzstan, is a Central Asian country that shares borders with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. A crossroad on the historic Silk Road, most of the territory of present-day Kyrgyzstan was annexed to the Russian Empire in 1876, became a Soviet republic in 1936, and achieved independence in 1991. Kyrgyz Republic is slightly smaller than South Dakota with a population of 6 million. Over 90% of the country is mountainous, with numerous glaciers and alpine lakes. The climate is continental, with extreme cold in the mountains in winter, subtropical in the southern Fergana Valley area, and temperate in the northern foothill zone.

The Government of the Kyrgyz Republic recognizes that English plays an important role in education and that English language skills can provide opportunities to advance careers, and access information and technology in all fields. The first group of English Education Volunteers arrived in 1993.
Volunteers work to implement the following five objectives:
• Increase the capacity of teachers to use general and English teaching skills;
• Increase the English proficiency of English teachers;
• Increase achievement of students in English;
• Strengthen students’ social-emotional learning (SEL) skills; and
• Increase the ability of community members to support students’ access to learning.

Peace Corps Kyrgyz Republic, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science, assigns Volunteers to rural communities where the need for qualified English teachers is greatest and proficient English speakers are rare.

Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) bring their schools invaluable knowledge and skills in critical thinking, planning, project design and management, organizational development, information gathering, and communication across cultures. The Teaching English as a Foreign Languages project affords communities the opportunity to communicate and share culture with a proficient English speaker who is eager to pursue the mission of Peace Corps and to inspire the communities’ youth to dream big.

Most Volunteers will work in rural villages throughout the country with limited transportation and at times sporadic communication. Texting and calls are usually reliable, but access to the internet may come and go. Depending on the size of the school, TEFL Volunteers teach grades 5 through 10.

Annual leave is limited to 24 days per year and may only be taken during school breaks, which include 1-2 weeks in fall, winter and spring, and 12 weeks in the summer. Annual leave is not allowed for Pre-Service Training, and the first and last 3 months of service, to allow for initial integration and final wrap-up and goodbyes.

Volunteers work 34 hours per week, Monday through Friday, at their assigned school, as follows:
• 18 hours of co-teaching with local English teachers;
• 10 hours of co-planning;
• 4 hours of teaching English clubs;
• 2 hours of club preparation.
During the summer, they conduct clubs and/or camps.

To be successful, Volunteers will need to be open to new challenges and possess a strong sense of creativity. They will work with both adults and children and must be comfortable living and working in environments with limited access to resources, such as textbooks or teaching supplies. Peace Corps Kyrgyz Republic is committed to providing all Volunteers with relevant professional and cultural training for effective service. All Volunteers receive strong technical training that builds their teaching skills. Volunteers report their work activities on a Peace Corps online database on a quarterly basis.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

Required Skills

• Competitive candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English

Desired Skills

Peace Corps Kyrgyz Republic prefers Volunteers with some of the following experience:
• At least 30 hours of English, foreign language, or literacy tutoring experience with primary, middle, or high school students, or adults.
• Master or Bachelors of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in English, Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), English as a Second Language (ESL), Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), foreign language, or Applied Linguistics.
• Master of Education (M.Ed.) with graduate or undergraduate concentration in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language.
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education with concentration in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language.
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with secondary education state certification in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language.
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with classroom teaching experience at the secondary level in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL and TESL, or foreign language.
• Youth mentoring and engagement experience.
• Experience working with youth ages 5-18 in after-school activities or other areas of non-formal education.
• Experience with youth in summer camps, clubs, sports, music, art, theater, volunteerism, and/or service learning, including their development and organization.
• Successful applicants will demonstrate a positive attitude, patience, flexibility, creativity, cultural sensitivity, openness to challenges and self-motivation for independent language learning and practicing new skills and knowledge at work and life.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

Kyrgyz is the predominately spoken language in the countryside, while Russian is used mainly in the towns and cities in certain parts of the country. Uzbek is spoken in some border communities in the south of the country. Prior knowledge of Turkish or Slavic languages is helpful in learning Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Russian. Knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet is necessary for Kyrgyz and Russian.

All Trainees will be trained in Kyrgyz during Pre-Service Training (PST). Volunteers will be placed in small language classes of up to 5-7 Trainees and will study Kyrgyz intensively (4 hours a day, 5-6 days per week for 3 months). Volunteers must reach the Intermediate-Low language level in Kyrgyz by the end of PST to be sworn-in. Volunteers who reach Intermediate-Mid may later study Russian or Uzbek, with a tutor if desired.

Living Conditions

Please view the Kyrgyz Republic Country Page to learn more about living conditions in the Kyrgyz Republic: https://www.peacecorps.gov/kyrgyz-republic/preparing-to-volunteer/living-conditions/

In Kyrgyzstan, families are generally large, and extended family members maintain strong relationships. Several generations often live in one household, which may include cousins and aunts and uncles, as well as immediate family members. Children are seen as a blessing and 3-4 children are considered a small-to-medium sized family. Most rural families have some area to raise crops and farm animals, predominately chickens and sheep. The family structure and gender norms tend to be traditional, with household chores done by women and outside chores done by men. While Islam is the predominant religion, the practice has been influenced by the long association of Russia blended with Arabic traditions. Women may or may not decide to wear scarves to cover their hair. Neat, professional dress is mandatory for teachers. During their off hours Volunteers should expect to dress conservatively, especially in rural environments.

Traditional Kyrgyz food relies strongly on meat, noodles, potatoes, and bread. Meat is a big part of most meals and sheep are often slaughtered for celebrations. Vegetables and fruits are available seasonally, with families preserving food for the winter months. Bread holds significant traditional importance in the Kyrgyz Republic. While vegetarians and those wishing to avoid gluten have successfully served in Kyrgyz Republic, many find it challenging to be strict in their diets and to find sufficient produce in rural areas in winter months. Families pride themselves on their hospitality. Guesting (visiting friends and relatives) is a traditional pastime. Visits last for hours and involve conversation, traditional foods, drinks, and toasts. Alcohol is generally available, but it may not be culturally acceptable depending on the host family. There may also be different expectations regarding alcohol for men and women. In the summer, some families may ‘go to jailoo’ – taking the family and animals to the mountain meadows-- or to Issyk-Kul, the second-largest alpine lake in the world, for vacation.

All Volunteers are required to live with a host family for the full 2 years, either in the family home or on the grounds of a family home in a separate building (compound housing). Be aware that compound housing is not available in all communities. PCVs will have their own room but share the kitchen and bathing facilities. Toilets are normally outhouses, behind the house, with squat toilets. Homestays enrich the cross-cultural goals of the Peace Corps, give Volunteers an established social position within their communities, and provide them with a secure and supportive living environment, including continued language learning.

There is electricity and water in all regions of the Kyrgyz Republic. However, in some areas the electricity and water supplies are limited to certain hours of the day or water is available from a local well or stream. Houses are heated either by electricity or coal. There is rarely hot running water or the opportunity to shower every day. Traditionally, people will bathe weekly or bi-weekly in a bathhouse called a banya—similar to a sauna--that can be located either on the property or elsewhere in the village. Some Volunteers will only have access to public banyas, but most will have showers in their houses. At public banyas, there is usually the option to pay a little extra for a private banya to bathe alone. Mobile phone access is generally good with internet available in most districts and all regional centers.

Public transportation is widely available in the regional centers and consists of mini-vans or shared taxis. Transportation in rural areas may not run regularly. For Volunteer safety, Peace Corps restricts types of transportation that Volunteers may use.

Serving in Kyrgyz Republic

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Kyrgyz Republic: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Couples will stay together with a host family during training and throughout their service as Volunteers. Please note that couples will have separate work assignments with different schools but will be placed within the same or nearby community for work.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.

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