English Education Volunteer

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Peace Corps domestically and internationally.

The information provided for each assignment is subject to change, including the tentative departure date.

Project Description

Albania is a dynamic country that has seen significant change over the last several decades since its transition from communism. Albania’s natural beauty and resources, and strategic location at the Western edge of the Balkan peninsula, has allowed for rapid development in some sectors. However, this growth has not been distributed equally across communities, as demonstrated by a growing wealth gap, and many communities are in need of services better tailored to meet local needs.

English Language education has become an absolute priority as Albania strives to join the European Union. English language is in high demand by students and parents alike, as it is the language that creates enormous study, work, and partnership opportunities. The English Education program, through the work of the Volunteers, especially in rural communities, directly addresses English teachers’ professional development needs related to language proficiency and instructional procedure aligned with communicative teaching methods.

As an English Education Volunteer you will be assigned to a school to teach and co-teach English as a foreign language at the middle or combined middle and high school level. Through your work with teachers and students, you will help increase English language proficiency and self-confidence. In addition to classroom teaching, you may organize clubs and camps, initiate and support youth development efforts, help develop student government in schools, share English language resources, develop teaching materials with local teachers, and become involved in community and school-based projects.

Through co-teaching alongside an Albanian English teacher, you will support and enhance the existing English language program with active-learning methodologies. You will teach upwards of ten 90-minute or twenty 45-minunte classes per week. After the first year of co-teaching, you may gradually progress to teaching on your own. You may also spend part of your time working with teachers from neighboring village schools to help improve their English and enhance their teaching techniques. You will have the opportunity to conduct teacher development workshops through collaboration with partner organizations and regional or local level education offices. Volunteers also work with teachers and counterparts to improve the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills of students, often through after-school activities or English clubs.

Once you are grounded in your community, you will have ample opportunity to conduct other school and community development projects. The types of projects you may collaborate with community members on will depend on local needs and resources, which you will work to identify together. They may include, but are not limited to, improving the overall quality of life in rural areas, strengthening the education system, facilitating youth development efforts/activities through schools or non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), identifying income-generating opportunities, and managing natural resources.

During the summer, many Volunteers have found success in collaborating across sectors with other Volunteers who live in nearby sites; however, this may not be possible depending on the geographic location of your site.

English Education 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 or professional development networks are located.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 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

Qualified candidates will have:
• A Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline, and a strong desire to teach English
AND
• A strong desire to work with, develop, and coach youth

Desired Skills

• Bachelor or MA/MS Degree in Education, English, TEFL or TESOL
• Experience in teaching, co-teaching or tutoring English or a foreign language; or experience in literacy tutoring with primary, middle, high school or adult students
• Experience organizing extracurricular activities
• Education or background experience in Early Childhood Education
• Experience leading or co-leading professional development workshops for teachers on the topics of curriculum development, assessments and editing

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 unique language, not closely related to any other. It is also a challenging language to learn. 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 on your own. Diligent commitment to learning Albanian during PST and throughout your service will help you acquire language skills that will be critical to building relationships within your communities and the success of your projects.

Following PST, all Volunteers are required to retain a tutor for at least the initial 6 months of service.

Living Conditions

PLACEMENT
Volunteers are placed across the entirety of Albania except for a limited number of areas designated as off-limits due to historic security concerns. Peace Corps Albania and Montenegro strives to serve underserved communities, which is why Volunteers mainly serve in rural sites, and no Volunteers will be placed in Tirana. As a Volunteer you should be prepared to serve in a small community with less services and conveniences than you may be used to.

HOUSING
All Volunteers in Albania will live with host families during their initial Pre-Service Training (PST) and for an additional six months at a minimum during their service. Some Volunteers may live with a host family for their entire 27-month service. You may decide to stay with your initial, or another, host family beyond the first 6 months for several reasons, including, convenience, better social integration and personal security, or a lack of other housing options.

Homestay arrangements are facilitated by Peace Corps Staff in coordination with your Host Agency to ensure that housing meets Peace Corps safety and security criteria. Given the COVID 19 pandemic, the selection of host families will be based on the provision of adequate space for social distancing. You will have your own room with good ventilation. Requirements for extra hygiene will be emphasized, and your host family will be within walking distance from your place of work in order to avoid public transportation. Host Families will go through extra training about additional precautions to minimize the risk of COVID 19 transmission.

Housing options in Albania are generally small in scale. You should anticipate living in less space with fewer amenities and less privacy than you are used to. Maintaining a good relationship built on mutual respect with your host family will be critical for your successful service. While Peace Corps staff provide host families with trainings on how to host Volunteers, you will primarily be responsible for communicating with your host family and setting mutually agreed upon expectations.

Most Albanian villages and towns have electricity and running water, but power and water outages may occur. 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. Some homes may have squat toilets.

LIFESTYLE
Volunteers often face challenges around the expectations of community members who perceive Americans as wealthy. These expectations are sometimes reinforced by smart phones, tablets, and AirPods that Volunteers often use during service. As a Volunteer, you will need to be careful in how you carry yourself or use electronics that are not widely accessible to Albanians.

Temperatures in Albania range from 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to below freezing during the winter. Conditions especially in winter, may be uncomfortable at sites, particularly in mountainous regions where snow can accumulate. Volunteers should be prepared for a wide spectrum of climates throughout their service.

Cigarette-smoking indoors and outdoors is very common in Albania. In addition to cigarette smoking, there can be heavy amounts of smoke from coal-burning and woodstoves for heating during the winter.

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. Peace Corps will provide you with several items related to health and safety (water filter, smoke alarm, fire extinguisher, medical kit, and other items).

Volunteers are not permitted to take leave during PST, as well as during their first 3 three months and last 3 months in their community.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Albania:
Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety (including crime statistics) in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Albania & Montenegro welcomes couples serving together during service. We can accommodate couples who serve as:
- Organizational Development Volunteer & English Education Volunteer OR
- Organizational Development Volunteer & Youth Health and Well-being Volunteer

Please note we cannot accommodate an English Education and a Youth Health and Well-being Volunteer couple combination.

Couples will likely be placed in different host families during Pre-Service Training. This will allow them to study language independently, train with peers from their own programmatic sector, and grow and develop individually before being sworn in as a Volunteer and joining their partner once training is complete. Following PST, couples will be placed in the same host family for the minimum 6 month homestay, and will subsequently share the same housing should they move to independent housing.

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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