TEFL Volunteer

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Project Description

Armenia has been in transition politically, socially and economically since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and is a country with tremendous possibilities. Students in Armenia, especially in rural areas, lack access to equal educational opportunities for a variety of reasons, including geographical location, socio-economic status, and lack of social mobility.

Volunteers are needed to assist teachers and students in Armenia to improve access to personal, professional, and academic opportunities through English. Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Volunteers work to promote new methodologies that emphasize critical thinking skills, cooperative learning, and greater understanding across borders. Armenia is moving away from the centralized Soviet model and establishing its own identity, and educators recognize the need for a wide range of reforms in the educational system and the need to interact with the rest of the world in order to access the wealth of information available through the English language.

Volunteers serve in primary, middle, and high schools (grades 3-12) and universities, where they team teach with the local English teacher(s). Volunteers focus on developing students’ speaking skills using student-centered methodologies. In addition to classroom teaching, Volunteers conduct after-school clubs and activities that work to identify and address specific school and community needs. TEFL Volunteers also work with youth through a variety of formal and informal avenues, including clubs and camps, to creatively address topics that are interesting and engaging for Armenian youth to foster healthy development.

All Volunteers selected for Armenia’s TEFL project are enrolled in the TEFL Certificate program, regardless of previous experience. After successful completion of 27 months of service and satisfaction of the technical requirements, Volunteers will receive a TEFL Certificate. The program starts before arriving in Armenia with a 3-month online pre-departure course and continues in Pre-Service Training (PST) with technical TEFL trainings. Teaching observations are conducted during the Volunteer’s service to offer feedback and support for the Volunteer’s professional growth. Also, to help Volunteers enrich their teaching repertoire, they participate in six Online Learning Communities (OLC) events and submit written assignments. Volunteers with previous teaching experience use their skills and knowledge to facilitate training and to support other Volunteers.

Required Skills

• A Bachelor's of Arts/Bachelor's of Science degree in any discipline
• At least 3 months of English/ foreign language tutoring experience with primary, middle, or high school students and
• A strong desire to teach English.

Desired Skills

• Enthusiasm and dedication to team teach with local English language teachers and help their students grow as learners.
• The ability to adapt to unfamiliar customs and family norms is an important skill to have or learn. Peace Corps introduces customs and norms along with ways to adapt during the eleven-week Pre-Service Training. Armenia is a traditional family-centered society and Americans may have difficulty adjusting to cultural views on gender roles and expectations.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Please take a moment to explore the Language Comments section below to find out more on how local language(s) will be utilized during service.

Armenian is a phonetic language with a unique 39-letter alphabet in the Indo-European language family. Invitees must be motivated and ready to dedicate themselves to learning a complex language that is not spoken widely outside of Armenia. Trainees receive 11 weeks of small group training during Pre-Service Training (PST) in Armenian. Trainees with take an oral proficiency exam at the end of PST and must attain a Novice High level in order to serve as a Volunteer. To help facilitate language learning, Invitees are invited to participate in a 6-week pre-departure course and an 8-week post-PST course. Please note: If invitees choose to study Armenian before arrival, they should study Eastern Armenian.

Living Conditions

Armenia is a small and beautiful country. The winter months (November to March) come with heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures. The summer months (June to September), depending on the Volunteer’s site, can range from 100-degree temperatures every day, to more mild weather.

Volunteers are required to stay with host families during Pre-Service Training (PST) and for an additional three months after training. The host family experience is a unique opportunity for Volunteers to fully immerse themselves in the Armenian language and culture. Many Volunteers live with their host families for the entirety of their service because of their comfortable relationship with the family and a scarcity of independent housing options in many rural sites. Availability of independent housing after the required homestay will depend on the Volunteer’s placement site, therefore Volunteers should be fully prepared to stay with a host family during their 2 years of service.

Despite limited exposure, host families and counterparts are accepting of diversity among Volunteers and close relationships are formed. However, Volunteers who do not resemble the Armenian profile (particularly African Americans, Asian Americans and other people of color) should expect to receive additional unwanted and sometimes negative attention. Further, although homosexual relationships are not criminal in Armenia, openly gay relationships are not socially accepted by the general population and Volunteers are advised to be very cautious. Peace Corps Armenia’s pre-departure materials and Pre-Service Training will address these types of concerns to prepare Volunteers for service. Peace Corps staff and second-year Volunteers also serve as a support system for Volunteers.

Community Integration: Community integration is an indispensable part of Volunteer work. To be successful in service, Volunteers must be accepted by their communities. The responsibility for integration rests on Volunteers and host communities, and that includes learning the Armenian language. During Pre-Service Training, Peace Corps Armenia provides tools and strategies for Volunteers to enhance their community integration and language acquisition. The Volunteers’ main assignment during the first three months is community integration. By devoting attention to community integration at site and to language learning, Volunteers lay the groundwork for their future community work.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Armenia: 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

Armenia cannot accommodate couples within the Community and Youth Development sector. Therefore, couples must both qualify and apply for the TEFL position.

Trainees who are couples may be required to live in separate host families during Pre-Service Training. As Volunteers couples live together with the same host family for a minimum of the first three months in their permanent community. TEFL Volunteers who are couples will be placed in the same community, but will work at different schools.

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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