TEFL Secondary Education Volunteer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

The Peace Corps Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Project began its activities in 1993. Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science (MOES) requested Volunteers help improve the quality of English language education. The project was later expanded in 1998.

The Peace Corps TEFL Project aims to enhance teachers’ and students’ English language communication abilities and to encourage independent thinking through the creation of an interactive learning environment. Volunteers transfer language and teaching skills through team-teaching with Ukrainian teachers and facilitate professional development workshops on contemporary methodologies and student-centered techniques. Along with English teaching and professional trainings, Volunteers promote attitudes and skills essential for a shift to a democratic society – problem solving, critical thinking, civic responsibility and healthy life style.

Enabling Policy Environment
To assist with Ukraine’s pivotal democratic transition, TEFL Volunteers address and implement The New Ukrainian School reform. TEFL Volunteers assist local Departments of Education as they implement a holistic approach to education and develop core skills for life, including fluency in English.

Volunteers work alongside their counterparts to improve English proficiency through team-teaching conversational or content-based English to students in grades 3-12 for 18 academic hours per week. Everyday communication in English with Volunteers increases the self-confidence of teachers to use English in their classrooms and equips them with child-focused, interactive teaching methods.

Another initiative of the New Ukrainian School is a focus on rural and underserved locations. A Volunteer presence can make a real difference in fostering students’ interest in learning English and may be the first native speaker in these schools.Volunteers in the eastern and central regions of Ukraine place a special focus on working with internally displaced people (IDPs). Volunteers mainstream young people who are in educational institutions and help integrate internally displaced people into their new communities. Teachers encourage dialogue between young Ukrainians of all ethnic, social and economic groups.

Peace begins in the classroom. By being a patient, and kind teacher, you will help students develop the values, knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors to live in harmony. In return for the respect you demonstrate to your community, you and your work will be appreciated and respected.

SPECIAL NOTICE ABOUT CITIZENSHIP: Ukraine does not recognize dual nationality. Candidates who were born in Ukraine are not eligible to serve in Peace Corps Ukraine. Volunteer safety is of paramount importance, and the protections of U.S. citizenship promote Volunteer safety. Under Ukrainian law, anyone born in Ukraine who became a U.S. citizen or holds a Ukrainian passport is considered a citizen of Ukraine, and not of the United States. If such an individual faced a legal, safety or other emergency situation in Ukraine, the Peace Corps' ability to intervene would be limited. If you fit either of these categories, we encourage you to look at other assignments.

Required Skills

TEFL Secondary Education Volunteers (AA 171)
Competitive candidates will meet one of the following criteria:
• BA/BS in Secondary Education with concentration in English, English/Foreign Language Teaching; or
• BA/BS in liberal art or social science; or
• BA/BS in any discipline with at least 30 hours of English, foreign language, or literacy tutoring experience with primary school, middle or high school students, or adults.
• Flexibility, adaptability, emotional maturity and ability to overcome challenges, cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity, creativity and sincere commitment to Peace Corps service.

Desired Skills

• Strong communication skills;
• Prior experience in organizing camps and/or extracurricular activities;
• IT skills;
• Any background with displaced, refugee children;
• Any background with inclusive education, mainstreaming, or related activity;
• Youth engagement: dance, drama, music, sports activities

Required Language Skills

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

The Ukrainian language is considered to be a difficult – but not impossible – language to learn. The key to success is attitude.

Peace Corps offers a strong, 10-week, pre-service language learning program in Ukrainian to get you started with your language learning journey. Ukrainian is the national language, and every Volunteer is advantaged by having a language foundation in Ukrainian. Volunteers should be prepared to serve in Ukrainian-speaking communities even if they bring Russian language skills. However, many communities also speak Russian because Ukraine is a bilingual country. Volunteers may elect to switch to Russian after training, but their training in Ukrainian will remain an asset.

Trainees must demonstrate a minimum novice-mid oral proficiency in Ukrainian by the end of pre-service training.

Prior experience of studying a foreign language will be of use.

Living Conditions

Host Family
Host family stays are required during the 11 week pre-service training (PST) and initial 3 months of service. The Ukrainian diet is bread-based with fruits and vegetables, and pork and dairy prepared daily. Host family accommodation provides a safe, private room with basic furniture, a shared bathroom and kitchen. Volunteers will be expected to keep their living space neat and clean and according to the standard of their host family.

After the first 3 months of service, Volunteers may move into separate housing, which may include a room in a dormitory, a private apartment or house, or a part of a family house. Volunteers often choose to live with their host families for their entire service, as the experience yields close relationships and deeper cultural integration.

Diversity Challenges
As an American abroad, you will be a minority and may invite unwanted attention. Peace Corps Ukraine’s pre-service training will address these types of issues to prepare you for service. Despite limited exposure to American minorities, Ukrainian society is gradually becoming more tolerant with regards to ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation.

Ukraine has strictly defined conservative gender roles, especially for women. While homosexual relationships are not considered a crime, sexual orientation and gender identities are considered taboo topics in Ukraine. Most LGBTQ Volunteers choose to be discreet about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity within their host communities. Volunteers of a diverse range of backgrounds have successfully been able to serve in Ukraine.

Like most Ukrainians, Volunteers will use public transportation. The country is well-served by trains. Volunteers use mini-buses for inter-city transportation. Volunteers usually walk from home to the first available transportation; this could take between 10 to 45 minutes. In most small villages walking is the main way of getting around or to the main road. High car accident rates and pickpocketing are main Safety and Security threats for travelers. PCVs are provided training on how to mitigate the risks during Pre-Service Training.

The climate in Ukraine includes four distinct seasons. Winter lasts from November to March and can be cold with heavy snowfalls and ice. Volunteers should come prepared with warm winter clothes since many public buildings are not heated or poorly heated.

You have been invited to serve in Ukraine in a professional capacity and therefore we expect that you will bring with you professional attire. This attire will be appropriate for your work setting and for walking about town. How you are dressed will greatly impact how you are perceived and your credibility in your community.

Physical requirements
Assignments in Ukraine are physically challenging and will require volunteers to be physically fit to walk up and down stairs, ride public transportation, and sometimes use a Turkish squat toilet. Volunteers must be able to walk on uneven terrain/pavement and carry at least 20 pounds.

Working conditions/hours
Volunteer service is a full-time job. You will work a full day based on the schedule of your school, center, or organization. The usual schedule is Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and at times you will need to work on weekends. While in the school environment you will be expected to work during class time, much of your work with students will occur after class time or in the latter part of the day. You will be expected to set a good example by being punctual and by being available at the workplace during business or school hours.

Internet Access
Internet is available in most places, though connection speed and consistency can often be lower than what is customary in the USA. At times, Internet access will be limited due to irregular power supply, poor telephone lines, or limited Wi-Fi capabilities. 3G internet via cellular network is available in all big cities and most towns.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Ukraine: 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 are separated during pre-service training. In the event they are placed in different communities, a couple can meet during weekends at one of the communities. Before placing a Trainee in the family the option of visiting a spouse is discussed with the host family.

When couples are assigned to their sites, they will live together, and the mandatory 6 month host family stay also applies to couples. There are sites available for couples. Couples have separate work assignments within the same community and are placed in schools.

Medical Considerations in Ukraine

  • Ukraine may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications 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: gluten, peanuts.
  • After arrival in Ukraine, 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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