Interview With A Peace Corps Volunteer In Kyrgyzstan: Training

kyrgyzstan1.jpgThinking about volunteering with the Peace Corps and wondering what it’s like? Read on to see what Andy, who recently wrapped up two years of teaching English in Kyrgyzstan, has to say about the experience. I first read about Andy in the Free Lance Star and contacted him to ask if he’d be willing to share his experience with the TEFL Logue. After a month of travel, Andy is back home and ready to tell all. First things first: what was his training like?

Andy looks back fondly on the Pre-Service Training (PST) and says that the “early, completely clueless days were a blast.” He draws a surprising but fun comparison: “The consensus was that our PST was the closest to being on The Real World we would most likely get.” He lived in a village of abour 1500 with four other volunteers, and had group sessions with all 65 volunteers in the bigger nearby city twice a week. On weekends they either stayed in their respective villages or went to the city to hang out.

The training was in both language and teaching:

“We studied either Russian or Kyrgyz in our villages for 5 hours a day 4 days a week… The learning curve is so steep in PST that you can communicate exponentially better with the locals every day, so you figure out how to get around and get things done fairly quickly.”

“We were taught techniques which were geared towards intermediate English speakers. It was frustrating. From our PST practicum experiences we knew we’d be working with kids who spoke no English, but the training we received really didn’t focus on beginners at all. Teaching someone who can already read and understand some English is completely different than teaching a student who can’t read the alphabet, and our trainers never dealt with the very basic stuff. So our TEFL training could have better prepared us for teaching in the field. ”

TedKarma has the Peace Corps training materials online for download, so if this raises your interest, head on over to TEFLDaddy (of course realizing there is more to the training than reading!). And for another -stan, see the TEFL Logue Interview with former Peace Corps Volunteer Bob.

Stay tuned to the TEFL Logue to read about Andy’s highs and lows during his service, his return to the US, and also his advice for future PCV’s. *UPDATE* Andy has kindly offered to include his email address here in case anyone would like to contact him personally regarding the application process or other aspect of his Peace Corps experience. You can reach him at kyrgyzstandy at gmail dot com.