English Language Teacher

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Kyrgyz Republic, commonly referred to as Kyrgyzstan, is a Central Asian country of incredible natural beauty, proud nomadic traditions, and wonderful hospitality. Kyrgyzstan was part of the Silk Road for the initial trading between Asia and Europe. Most of the territory of present-day Kyrgyzstan was formally annexed to the Russian Empire in 1876, became a Soviet republic in 1936, and achieved independence in 1991 when the USSR dissolved. Kyrgyz Republic is slightly smaller than South Dakota with a population of 6 million people. It shares borders with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. It has been compared to Switzerland for the beauty of its mountains. The peaks of the Tien Shan mountain range and associated valleys and basins encompass the entire country. The climate is continental, with extreme cold in the mountains in winter, subtropical in the Fergana Valley area in the south of the country, and temperate in the northern foothill zone.

The Government of the Kyrgyz Republic has determined that English plays an important role in education to support the transition to a market economy. English language skills can provide opportunities to advance careers, and access the information and technology in all fields. The first group of TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Volunteers arrived in 1993.
Today TEFL Volunteers work to implement the following three goals:
• Build capacities of English teachers through co-teaching and teacher trainings
• Improve students’ achievement in English through formal classroom teaching and informal student clubs, including English clubs.
• Engage in secondary projects that strengthen the school community.

Peace Corps Kyrgyz Republic, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science, assigns a large majority of TEFL Volunteers to the regions where the need for qualified English teachers is greatest and the long-term presence of proficient English speakers is 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 borders. The TEFL project affords communities the opportunity to communicate and share cultural information with a proficient English speaker who is eager to pursue the three goals of Peace Corps and to inspire the communities’ youth to dream big, about futures they would never have imagined themselves.

Most TEFL Volunteers will work in rural villages throughout the country with limited transportation and sporadic communication. Depending on the size of the school, TEFL Volunteers may teach at the primary as well as secondary school level.

Annual leave is limited to school breaks, which include 1-2 weeks in both fall, winter and spring, and 3 months in summer. Annual leave is not allowed for the first and last 3 months of service, to allow for initial integration and final wrap-up and goodbyes.

To be successful, TEFL 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 in their communities. All Volunteers receive strong technical training that builds their teaching skills and provides tools to become successful teachers. Volunteers should be prepared for co-teaching and co-planning lessons with Kyrgyzstani counterpart English teachers on a daily basis. Volunteers organize and implement youth camps and clubs during after school hours and during school breaks. Volunteers also participate in the Peace Corps monitoring, reporting, and evaluation (MRE) process.

Required Skills

• Competitive candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English.
• Candidates should have experience, either formal or informal, in teaching or tutoring with primary, middle, or high school students or adults.

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
• Youth mentoring and engagement
• Experience working with youth ages 5-18 in after school activities or other areas of non-formal education. Applicants with experience with youth in summer camps, clubs, sports, music, art, theater, volunteerism, and/ or service learning are strongly encouraged to apply.
• Development and organization of camps/extracurricular programs
• Flexibility and ability to adapt to new situations with a positive attitude.
• Master or Bachelors of Arts in Teaching, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, foreign language or applied linguistics.

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. Prior knowledge of Turkish or Slavic languages is helpful in learning Kyrgyz and Russian. Knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet is necessary for either language.

During Pre-Service Training (PST) you will be studying the Kyrgyz language intensively (4 hours a day, 5-6 days per week) and will be placed in a small language class of up to 5-7 Trainees living in the same village for 3 months.

All Trainees will be trained in Kyrgyz. Volunteers will have the opportunity to receive tutoring in Kyrgyz or possibly Russian after pre-service training.

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 and older traditions. Alcohol is generally available; women may or may not wear scarves to cover their hair; slaughter of a sheep is done for celebrations.

Kyrgyz traditional food relies strongly on meat, noodles, potatoes and bread. Vegetables and fruits are available seasonally, with families doing preservation 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. In the summer, some families may ‘go to jailoo’ – taking the family and animals to the mountain meadows-- or to Issyk-Kyl, the second-largest alpine lake in the world, for vacation.

All Volunteers are required to live with a host family or on the grounds of a family home in a separate building (compound housing) for the full 2 years. PCVs will have their own room, but share the kitchen and bathing facilities. Toilets are normally outhouses. Host family stays 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 and no 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 a usually the option to pay a little extra for a private banya and bathe alone. Volunteers will have telephone access at home or in the community. Mobile access is generally good with internet available in many 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.

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 married couples will have separate work assignments with different schools, but will be placed within the same or nearby community for work.

Medical Considerations in Kyrgyz Republic

  • Kyrgystan may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: insulin-dependent diabetes; gastroenterology; mammography; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; some types of gynecologic support; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified.  
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: none identified.
  • After arrival in Kyrgyzstan, 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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