TEFL University 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. The Ministry of Education and Science (MOES) of Ukraine requested English teachers to help expand and improve the quality of English language education. This led to the expansion of the project to universities and In-Service Teacher Training Institutes in 1998.

The Peace Corps TEFL Project aims to enhance teachers’ and students’ English language communication abilities and to encourage independent thinking and problem solving through the creation of a motivating and 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 market economy and democratic society – problem solving, critical thinking, civic responsibility, environmental awareness and healthy life style.

Enabling Policy Environment

Ukraine is in the middle of a pivotal democratic transition. The Law On Higher Education, adopted in 2014, perceives higher education as a public good and responsibility. It aims to improve the quality of higher equation in two teaching and research-scientific work.

Everyday formal and informal communication in English with you will increase the self-confidence of English teachers to use English in their classrooms, and equip them with new, student-focused, interactive, and communicative methods of teaching. Volunteers promote intercultural learning exchange, facilitating regular teacher training events/clubs, supporting clubs and summer camps at sites they serve and promote inclusive education, diversity and student-centered learning. University Education Volunteers implement community projects, assist in establishing English language clubs and resource centers, and promote healthy lifestyles and volunteerism.

Especially in the eastern and central regions of Ukraine, Volunteers will place a special focus on working with internally displaced people (IDPs). You will be able mainstream young people who are in institutions and help integrate internally displaced people into their new communities. Your work to encourage dialogue between young Ukrainians of all ethnic, social and economic groups will make Ukraine stronger.

As a University Education Volunteer, you will work at pedagogical universities/colleges or other educational establishments, and will be offered to facilitate teacher professional development at the In-Service Teacher Training Institutes. It is very important for you to build a strong relationship with your counterpart(s) and cooperate in the classroom with Ukrainian teachers as your ultimate goal is through team-teaching develop your counterparts' capacity to continue similar work after your departure.

For Volunteers placed at Teacher Training Institutes, your institution will usually provide periodic 2-3 week long courses for teachers. Regular hours of operation are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Your schedule and teaching load will be determined in collaboration with your colleagues.

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 University Volunteers (AA 172)
• MA in English, MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching), TEFL, TESOL, EFL, TESL, or Linguistics;
• MA/MAT in any foreign language;
• MA in Liberal Arts with some teaching experience; and/or
• MS with some teaching experience.
• Flexibility, adaptability, emotional maturity, 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 Ukraine offers a strong, 10-week, pre-service language learning program 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 6 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 6 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.

Transportation
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.

Climate
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.

Dress
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, but they may be placed in different nearby communities. In this case 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 different universities/colleges.

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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