English Education Volunteer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

As an English Education Volunteer (also referred to as TEFL Volunteer – Teaching English as a Foreign Language), you will teach and co-teach English as a foreign language at middle school or combined middle and high schools in an assigned community. Through working with teachers and students, 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 or co-teach alongside an Albanian English teacher, supporting and enhancing the existing English language program with active-learning methodologies. 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 on 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 after-school program begun by Volunteers), Girls Leading our World (GLOW) camps, etc.

In the summer, you will 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 after-school 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 manuals and handbooks, 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 communities; however, this may not be possible for all Volunteers depending on the geographic location of your community.
Volunteers are placed in communities throughout Albania, excluding the capital city of Tirana. The vast majority of Volunteers will live in rural areas, however, in some rare cases Volunteers may be placed in a few of the larger towns where foreign language schools are located.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline, with a strong desire to teach English
• Strong desire to work with, develop, coach youth, and work in and out of the classroom

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:

• Bachelor or MA/MS Degree in Education or English
• Experience in teaching, co-teaching, or tutoring English 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, curriculum development, or assessment

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. Your language training will focus on developing your competency as a communicator, not grammar skills. Language acquisition is difficult and will consume a substantial part of your time and energy during training.

You will speak in Albanian for the majority of 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 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, in your permanent community. After that period, you may choose to live with a different host family or may live independently in housing identified by you or your school. In some small towns, it is not possible for Volunteers to move from their host family due to the limited availability of housing options. Peace Corps works with your school 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 for your bedroom, but many Volunteers still spend most of the evening with host family members in the one heated room. Toilets are often squat-style. 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 AirPods that Volunteers use during service. As a Volunteer you will need to become careful in how you carry yourself or use electronics that are not widely 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, often on uneven ground. Additionally, you should expect to carry your own luggage. 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 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

Peace Corps in Albania welcomes couples serving together during service. For any couples to be considered, your partner must qualify and be invited to serve as a:

- Organizational Development Volunteer

Albania cannot accept Health and English Education Volunteer couples, nor couples serving in the same sector.

Couples will likely be placed in different host families during Pre-Service Training (PST), which will allow them to study language independently, to 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

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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