English Education Volunteer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

As an English Education Volunteer you will be assigned to a school as a teacher in a community to teach and co-teach English as a second language at middle school or combined elementary and high schools. Through working with teachers and students, English Education (TEFL) Volunteers help increase English language proficiency and self-confidence. In addition to classroom teaching, Volunteers organize clubs and camps, share resources, develop teaching materials with local teachers and become involved in community and school-based projects.

TEFL Volunteers peer teach alongside an Albanian English teacher, supporting and enhancing the existing English language program with communicative teaching methods. Volunteers teach upwards to ten 90-minute classes per week. After peer teaching during the first year, some Volunteers may start to teach more on their own.

Volunteers may also spend part of their time working with teachers from neighboring village schools to help improve their English and enhance their teaching techniques. They may also conduct teacher development workshops through collaboration with partner organizations and regional/local level education offices. Volunteers also work with teachers and counterparts to improve critical-thinking and problem-solving skills of students, often through after-school activities or English clubs.

Volunteers will likely have ample opportunity to conduct other community development projects, once they are grounded in their communities. The types of projects Volunteers may collaborate with their community members include, but are not limited to improving the overall quality of life in rural areas, strengthening the educational system, identifying income-generating opportunities, and managing the natural resources. Volunteers will also have opportunities at the local or regional level to participate in youth development efforts/activities through the schools or NGOs, or by taking part in youth-centered projects such as Model UN, Outdoor Ambassadors (an environmental-themed afterschool program begun by Volunteers), Girls Leading our World (GLOW) camps, etc.

In the summer, you be expected to lead camps and other youth development activities in partnership with schools, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), or facilitate youth-centered projects such as Model United Nations, Girl Scouts, Outdoor Ambassadors (an environmental-themed afterschool program begun by Volunteers), Girls Leading our World (GLOW) camps, etc. You may develop or participate in summer youth camps, utilize the Peace Corps Albania Life Skills Manual, tutor students in school subjects (possibly English), help develop student government in schools, and/or liaise with projects that foster youth employability. Many Volunteers have found success in collaborating across sectors throughout the summer with Volunteers who live in nearby sites; however, this may not be possible for all Volunteers depending on the geographic location of your site.

Placements may be anywhere in Albania except certain areas of the country that are designated as off-limits. No Volunteers will be placed in the capital. In some rare cases, Volunteers may be placed in a few of the larger towns of Albania where foreign language schools are located; however, the vast majority of placements will be in the rural areas. Conditions, especially in winter, may be uncomfortable at sites.

Required Skills

• Qualified candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline, and a strong desire to teach English
• 5 years’ of work experience
• Strong desire to work with, develop, coach youth, and work in the classroom

Desired Skills

• Degree in Education or English
• Experience teaching, co-teaching, or tutoring English language, or a foreign language, or experience in literacy tutoring with primary, middle, or high school students, or adults
• Experience working in extra-curricular activities with primary, middle, or high school students or young adults (such as sports, youth development, or academic programs)
• Experience with professional development for teachers or curriculum development

Required Language Skills

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

Pre-Service Training (PST) will focus on language and cross-cultural adaptation. Albanian (Shqip) is a challenging language. The emphasis during Pre-Service Training (PST) will be on language and cross-cultural adaptation. Your language training will be competency-based and will emphasize communication, not grammar. Language acquisition is difficult and will consume a substantial part of your energy during training. You will use the Albanian language in work settings during your service. PST will give you the basis for continuing to develop your language skills during service. Diligent commitment to learning Albanian during PST and throughout your service will help you acquire language skills that will be critical to developing relationships within your communities and to the success of your projects.

Following PST, all Volunteers are required to retain a tutor for the initial six-months of service.

Living Conditions

You will live with a host family during Pre-Service Training and for the first six months after training at your permanent site. After that period, you may choose to live with a different host family or may live independently in housing identified by you or your host agency. In some small towns, it is not possible for Volunteers to move from their host family due to the availability of housing options. Peace Corps works with your host agency to ensure that all housing meets Peace Corps safety and security criteria.

Housing options in Albania are generally small in scale. You should anticipate living in less space, in closer proximity to others, with far fewer amenities, and less privacy than you are used to. In rural parts of Albania, housing is often scarce and in many communities, it is unusual for anyone, man or woman, to live alone – or to walk alone in the street. Most communities in Albania are conservative and close-knit. Many Volunteers choose to live with a family after the introductory 6-month home stay for many reasons, including convenience, social integration, personal security, or a lack of other housing options.

Most Albanian villages and towns have electricity and running water, but power and water outages are frequent. Houses are not centrally heated and most Albanian families heat only one room with a gas, wood, or electric heater. Peace Corps will provide you a small space heater and toilets are often squat-style. Additionally, Volunteers should be prepared to adjust in all ways to living with an Albanian family. It is common, especially in the winter, for families to smoke indoors and spend time as a family in only one room to conserve heat.

Outside temperatures range from 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to below freezing during the winter, depending on your location. Volunteers should be prepared for a wide spectrum of climates throughout their service.

You will need to modify your standard of living while serving in Albania. This may be more difficult than it seems. Volunteers also often face challenges around the expectations of community members who perceive Americans as wealthy. These expectations are sometimes reinforced by the smart phones, tablets, expensive-looking cameras and iPods that Volunteers use during service. As a Volunteer you will need to become careful in how you carry yourself and intentional in using electronics that are not wide accessible to Albanians.

During your service, you will spend most of your time in your community but may travel periodically to the closest larger town to access supplies and services (including an ATM). You should be prepared to walk long distances (several miles) regularly, especially during Pre-Service Training or throughout a Volunteers’ 24-month service. Additionally, throughout your service you should expect to carry your own luggage and walk extensively, often on uneven ground. Additionally, Peace Corps will provide you with several items related to health and safety (water filter, smoke alarm, fire extinguisher, and other items); you should expect to be responsible for transporting these items as well.

Volunteers are not permitted to take leave during the Pre-Service Training, during their first three-months at site, or during their last three-months at site.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Albania: 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

Post can accept the following couple’s combinations:
• Community Development Volunteer & TEFL Volunteer
• Community Development Volunteer & Health Volunteer

Post cannot accept TEFL and Health couples combinations without an exception granted by the DPT or CD.

Couples will likely be placed with different host families during PST, allowing them to study language independently, train with peers from their own programmatic sector, and grow and develop individually before joining their partner once training is complete.

Following PST, couples will be placed in the same host family.

Medical Considerations in Albania

  • Albania may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: insulin-dependent diabetes; gastroenterology; some types of gynecologic support; mammography; ongoing behavioral health support; seizure disorder; urology.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten.
  • After arrival in Albania, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot and mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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