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Peace Corps Volunteer

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Volunteer

Project description

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

Volunteers are needed to support teachers and students to improve access to personal, professional, and academic opportunities through the English language. Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Volunteers promote new methodologies that emphasize critical thinking skills, cooperative learning, and greater understanding across borders. Armenia is moving away from the Soviet model of centralized decision-making and standardization of teaching programs and methods and is establishing its own identity to meet the needs of an open and innovative market system. Educators recognize the need for increased teacher training, new textbooks, and modern teaching methods—as well as 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 schools (grades 3-12) and universities, where they co-teach with the local English teacher(s). Volunteers focus on developing students’ speaking skills using student-centered teaching methodologies. In addition to classroom teaching, Volunteers lead after-school clubs and activities that identify and address specific school and community needs. TEFL Volunteers also work with youth in their community through a variety of formal and informal avenues, including clubs and camps during summer and school breaks.

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 three-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. Volunteers enrich their teaching repertoire by participating in six Online Learning Community events and submitting written assignments. Volunteers with previous teaching experience use their skills and knowledge to facilitate trainings and to support other Volunteers.

Community integration is an indispensable part of Volunteer work. To be successful in service, Volunteers must be accepted by their communities. The responsibility of integration rests on Volunteers and host communities, which is facilitated by continually 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. By devoting attention to community integration and language learning, Volunteers lay the groundwork for their future community work.

Required skills

• Competitive candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English

Desired skills

• 1 year classroom teaching experience at the secondary level in English, Teaching English as a Second or Foreign language (TESL/TEFL) or teaching a foreign language

• Experience developing teaching resources appropriate to school settings

• Experience organizing and leading after-school and summer youth programs focused on English proficiency

• Experience using technology in the classroom to enhance English proficiency

• Experience working with teachers on professional development activities

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. 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 widely spoken outside of Armenia. Trainees receive 11 weeks of small group Armenian language training during Pre-Service Training (PST) and must attain a Novice High level at the end of PST in order to serve as a Volunteer. In an effort to facilitate language learning, invitees participate in a six-week online/Skype course before arrival in-country, and an eight-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, mountainous country in the Caucasus, bordered by Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran. Its history includes the creation of the Armenian alphabet in 405 AD and being the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion. Armenia’s rugged countryside features the ruins of churches, monasteries and graveyards dating to the early Middle Ages. Its history has been shaped by Byzantine, Persian, Islamic, Ottoman and Russian forces. Armenia gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and established a multi-party, democratic Republic.

Armenia has a diverse climate as the winter months (November to March) come with heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures followed by a beautiful spring. The summer months (June to September) can range from 100-degree temperatures every day in the south, to more mild weather in the central and northern parts of the country.

Volunteers are required to stay with host families during Pre-Service Training (PST) and for the first three months at site. The host family experience is a unique opportunity for Volunteers to fully immerse themselves in the Armenian language and culture and form important relationships in the community. Many Volunteers choose to live with their host families for the entirety of their service although they may move to independent housing, if available, after the mandatory host family stay. Please note that independent housing is not available in all communities, and all Volunteers should be prepared to stay with a host family during their full two years of service, if necessary.

In many ways, Armenia is a traditional and homogenous society. Despite limited exposure to foreigners, host families and counterparts are accepting of diversity among Volunteers. Peace Corps Volunteers often form life-long relationships with members of their local community. However, Volunteers who do not resemble the Armenian profile, particularly people of color, may receive additional unwanted and sometimes negative attention from strangers in the larger community. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, sharing American values, and deepening local community members’ understanding of Americans. Many Armenians are not accepting of members of the LGBTQ+ community, so it is safest not to share this information with Armenian colleagues, family, and friends. Peace Corps Armenia’s pre-departure materials and Pre-Service Training will address these types of concerns to prepare Volunteers for service. The Peace Corps office serves as a safe space for Volunteers to share their experiences with staff and fellow Volunteers.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Armenia: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and health/crime statistics in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical considerations

Before you apply, please review medical clearance and legal clearance to learn about the process.

Couples information

Couples allowed, must be in the same sector

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