English Language Teacher
Kyrgyz Republic, commonly referred to as Kyrgyzstan, is a Central Asian country of incredible natural beauty, proud nomadic traditions, and wonderful hospitality. A crossroad on the historic Silk Road, 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. It shares borders with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China, and 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 southern Fergana Valley area, 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 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:
• Increase the capacity of English teachers through co-planning, co-teaching, and teacher trainings.
• Increase students’ achievement in English through formal classroom co-teaching and informal student clubs, including English clubs.
• Engage in secondary projects that strengthen students’ social-emotional learning or technology use, or improve the school’s learning environment.
Peace Corps Kyrgyz Republic, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science, assigns a majority of TEFL Volunteers to rural communities where the need for qualified English teachers is greatest and the long-term presence of 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 TEFL 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 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. Texting and calls are reliable, but access to internet could come and go. 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 fall, winter and spring, and 3 months in 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.
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. You will organize and implement youth camps and clubs during after school hours and during school breaks, and report on these projects on a quarterly basis.
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.
Competitive candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English.
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.
• Experience with youth in summer camps, clubs, sports, music, art, theater, volunteerism, and/or service learning, including their development and organization.
• Master or Bachelors of Arts in Teaching, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, foreign language or applied linguistics
Master 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 English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL and TESL, or foreign language with 6 months classroom teaching experience at the secondary level 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.
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. 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 for 3 months.
All Trainees will be trained in Kyrgyz. Volunteers have the opportunity to receive tutoring in Kyrgyz or possibly Russian after Pre-Service Training.
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. Professional neat 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 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. 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 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. 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 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 to 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.
Kyrgyz is the predominately spoken language in the countryside, while Russian is used mainly in the towns and cities. Prior knowledge of Turkish or Slavic languages is helpful.
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 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.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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