The newly located Engage Language Centre is situated close to Vial Camp (around a 40 minute walk for our students), in Chios island, Greece.
It is a well established and unique educational space that has been successfully running for four three years now, providing educational services for asylum seekers from 24 years old, and of all backgrounds, abilities and levels.
From Monday to Friday, we focus mainly on English classes. We also offer when possible Greek, French and German. In addition to their classes, our students can attend an art class as well as reading and writing optional classes to improve their language skills. Each Saturday we hold different workshops for students to learn or try new activities. Before we had art, music, cinema, drama, photography, meditation, language exchanges…
While the Language Centre is a place where we aim to deliver a high standard of language education, one of our overarching purposes is also to provide a safe and peaceful space for our students. At Engage, we believe in language education as a tool to bring people together and to foster a sense of community.
We have two classrooms at the centre, a kitchen space, a small library/studying area and an outside seating area. There is an office for the teachers which has resources and equipment for teachers to use – wifi, printer, scanner, laminator, flashcards, worksheets, books, stationary supplies.
Volunteer teachers will have an important role to play in maintaining the ethos of a centre that is calm, clean, comfortable and positive, and a place where it is possible for students to leave cares or worries behind. We are welcoming and accepting to everyone, treating each person as an individual, as a student, with no other label (asylum seeker, refugee etc). We do not ask students personal or intrusive questions, questions that could be triggers of previous traumatic events.
When students register at the centre, their English level is assessed orally, and they are then assigned to an appropriate class, from absolute beginners to upper-intermediate. Each class level has 3 lessons a week. Each lesson is an hour and half long.
As a teacher in the centre you would have 2-3 English classes a week (6-9 lessons a week), as well as taking reading or conversation class. If you are able to speak a secondary language (German, Greek or French) you would be asked if you could also teach an additional 2 lessons a week to provide this language to our students.
The Language Centre also aims to provide a supportive environment for teachers, and ideally all teachers will have the opportunity to do a comprehensive handover with previous teachers before taking on their new classes. The coordinator and fellow staff members are always on hand to assist with any queries, and idea-sharing between staff is encouraged and facilitated.
Class sizes vary on a daily basis. We never know what could happen overnight in Vial camp, what appointments have to be made or attended, hospital visits, city runs, collecting food… Attendance rates can vary between just a few students, to the maximum of 14 students in the classroom. Teachers therefore need to be prepared with lesson plans that can be adapted for varying attendances. We have a basic syllabus for each class level, with specific vocabulary and grammar assigned to that level. Teachers need to be able to create lesson plans with materials and topics that are appropriate and culturally as well as context sensitive.
For continuity and consistency in our project, we are looking for volunteer teachers to be able to commit for a minimum of 3 months (including two week mandatory quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
Extension after two and half months may be possible after a review of volunteering time, and subject to current need.
We cannot help with any financial assistance while in Chios, but do provide free shared accommodation with other teachers in a well maintained house in a local village.
Teaching at the Engage Language Centre is an inspiring and rewarding experience, and makes a significant positive contribution to the lives of many students.