Tags: alexandria branch library, alumni, AmeriCorps, americorps partners, Amharic, announcement, Basic Adult Literacy, best practices, community, Ethiopia, ethiopian, family, family fun, Family Learning, James Lee Community Center, LCNV, lcnv learners, lesson plans, Library, Lisbeth Goldberg, literacy, literacy council, Loudon Literacy, northern virginia, one-on-one, student story, student testimonial, students, teaching, teaching strategies, training, tutoring, Volunteer, volunteer story, volunteer testimonial, volunteers, Writing
By. Lisbeth Goldberg
There was an announcement by the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia regarding their next volunteer tutor training for ESOL; it’s a structured training program on three consecutive Saturdays, and they assign you a specific student.
I immediately phoned and signed up because I’d been wasting my Saturdays, and I always liked training classes. The three Saturdays were really excellent, with about 35 people in the class. I was assigned an Ethiopian lady who’d completed eight years of school in her home country. She knew a few English words and some of the letters, but couldn’t write her name in English and could not converse in English.
Yesterday, at 4:00 pm, I met with my student, and two of her daughters at an Alexandria Branch Library. The eldest daughter is a college student. Her sister is a senior in high school, and there is another sister who is a junior in high school. The girls were delightful, with an easy laugh. Mom had a solemn face, and she just looked down and sighed. The girls were doing all the talking.
The Literacy Council sends you off to your first meeting well prepared. There are three flyers on a) what to do in your first session; b ) needs assessment and goal setting, and c) a form to be signed by the student, an agreement to study and practice. The eldest daughter read the student agreement to her mom. When they got to the sentence, “Promise to do my homework,” the girls started giggling and laughing at the idea of Mother doing homework. When the daughters got to the statement, “If the student doesn’t do her homework, the teacher might not teach her anymore,” they couldn’t stop laughing. Mom remained rather somber, sighing, and with no eye contact.
Then we began the lesson introducing ourselves by name. I asked the student how I should pronounce her name, and practiced it several times. She listened and practiced pronouncing my name. We did lots of repeats. Needless to say, Amharic and English have very different sounds to some letters and vowels. When Mom got it right, I gave a big smile and clapped my hands — very good. She clapped back and looked me in the eye, even smiled. I had explained to her, she may be a beginning student, but I was certainly a beginning teacher.
I was about to give her a homework assignment, to practice copying her name in English and then write it next class, but she was a step ahead of me. [She] told her daughter to tell me she would practice for next class, and proudly said my name with a big smile.
After the first meeting, the class is one-on-one. But the eldest daughter said that her mom really needed help, so the three daughters will rotate accompanying Mom to class. I’m extra lucky. I have these beautiful, enthusiastic daughters to work with me and to help their Mother learn English. They each thanked me with a handshake, a smile, and a bow on their way out.
I was on a high; it was the best of times!
Please consider becoming a Volunteer Tutor like Lisbeth. Visit Tutoring or email email@example.com.
Tags: alumni, AmeriCorps, americorps partners, announcement, Basic Adult Literacy, ESOL Tutoring, LCNV Family, LCNV Volunteer, literacy, one-on-one, professional development, students, teaching, teaching strategies, training, tutor training, tutoring, Volunteer, Volunteer Training, volunteers
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
- Mahatma Gandhi
Join our big family of LCNV Volunteers and get Northern Virginia reading, speaking, and understanding English.
The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia has hit the ground running this year. We’ve got our ESOL Tutor Training AND Spring Classroom sessions coming up. We need volunteer teachers, class aides, and tutors to help improve the literacy skills of area adults who are eager to learn and become full members of the community.
Our ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) one-on-one Tutoring Program provides individualized, goal-oriented English instruction to LCNV adult learners. We need more volunteer tutors to work with students on a waiting list, who need help with speaking, listening, reading, and writing English. If you are looking to help somebody individually, as well as have the flexibility of setting your own schedule and volunteering in your own neighborhood, this could be a good fit for you.
Each tutor is trained, matched with a student, and encouraged to meet weekly for an hour and a half at a location convenient to both the volunteer and the learner. The Literacy Council provides intensive tutor training at our Falls Church office prior to starting an assignment (there is a $40 fee to cover the costs of training materials). The next THREE-DAY training will take place in Falls Church on January 21, 28, and February 4 (all Saturdays) at 9:30 am-3:00 pm. All three days are required.
Our Classroom Programs offer beginning level ESOL classes to adults that focus on helping students improve their English speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. The classes also provide information about American culture and life skills important to the workplace, community, and family.
If you enjoy working with people, learning from others, and are available to give 2-4 hours a week for the next few months, our Classroom Volunteer Opportunities may be a perfect fit! Take a look at the class schedules online: http://www.lcnv.org/schedules.cfm and contact me to sign up!
Absolutely no teaching experience or knowledge of foreign languages is required for any of our volunteer positions! Contact me to find out more and to get started!