Peace Corps Ukraine: Facilitating an English Club.
So you might be wondering. Do all Peace Corps volunteers just teach English? The answer is technically no. There are so many different sectors of the Peace Corps and depending on what the country of service needs, that dictates what sectors go into that country. Some of the sectors other than TEFL (teach English as a foreign language) are Community Development, Youth Development, Heath, Agriculture among other things.
That being said, before you are any of those you are a Peace Corps Volunteer. Therefore, more than likely (IE I don't know anyone who doesn't) you will run an English Club of some kind.
I technically do 2 English clubs and am looking to start a 3rd.
English Club | Film & Book | Other English Club Ideas
My official English club.
I generally stress at the beginning of every lesson that I am not an English teacher and have no training in formal English instructions. What I do instead is go over slang and vocabulary words with advanced speakers as well as work through TOEFL practice exercises. My English Clubs are usually structured as follows:
homework review ( usually a TOEFL reading exercise)
Review new "slang" and vocabulary ( usually 4 of each)
Have paired discussion
do a critical reading exercise
play jeopardy with questions that include the vocab and slang words.
Like everything in the Peace Corps this should be participate and HCN (host country national) driven. My very first meeting we had an informal discussion on what they all wanted to get out of the lessons.
Currently the English Club meets once a week.
** A note on playing Jeopardy. Most people in the club really love it but only one had played it previously. I have to emphasize over and over that the first answer you blurt out in my direction I have to take and constantly remind people to talk within their group before giving me an answer.
Film Club and Book Club
My other two "English Clubs" are a film club and a book club. For our film club I plan to utilize the foreign language department at the library (where I work) to show films in English and then follow them with a discussion. Our plan for these clubs is to utilize the other Peace Corps volunteers in the region, giving each discussion group a native speaker to work with. We will have two levels of discussion groups. The first being a basic level where the discussion will focus on the plot and the characters. The second level of groups will have more abstract discussion and pick apart the themes.
We also plan on utilizing the time before the movie starts as a way to advertise the activities that the library and the foreign language department have going on.
Currently our film club meets once a month.
The book club is still currently in development stages. The plan is to structure this like any normal book club ( minus the wine). As of now we do not plan to require the participants to read the book in English ( although it may be encouraged) as locating the book in English could prove difficult.
The book club is scheduled to meet once a month.
Other English Club Ideas.
I have a lot of other ideas for ways to make other projects into "English Clubs". It isn't hard if traditional lesson planning isn't your thing. For Example, a lot of the trainings we plan on holding here in the Library I hope to offer them once in English and once in Ukrainian. Those who want to improve their skills as well as improve their English can kill to birds with one stone so to speak.
Last min. tips:
Some last min. things about hosting an English Club.
Always check with your local library as a lot of times they can host for you.
Know your strengths. Mine is noooot grammar and I'm not trained as an actual English teacher. I told everyone up front that I am not here to "teach them English" but to help them improve their English to a more conversational level. What I can offer is being a native speaker.
You will become acutely aware of how much "slang" you use in your day to day conversation through this. I think that is one thing so great about learning a new language. You learn so much more about your own.
Photos courtesy of the Chernivtsi Windows on America Page.