By Nikki Jamieson
If you have a free night, use it to make small talk with someone who is learning how.
The ESL Drop-in Centre in Taber is looking for volunteers, particularly those who can help out in the evening.
“We need some volunteers during the day, but our real need is in the evening,” said Glenna Caldwell, drop-in centre coordinator. “At nighttime, we have so many different levels (of learning). We have two people from China, we have one from Ukraine, we have two from Bolivia, and so the differences in language, sometimes, is a lot.”
While the centre is always looking for volunteers, as there is always something to do, they are looking for people who can assists in classes on Tuesday and Thursday evening for basic English, as well as those willing to tutor small groups or on a one-on-one basis. They are also looking for people to help out in Conversation Club, where people come to practice their conversation skills.
According to Caldwell, everyone’s English is slightly different, making it important for those who are learning the language to get a chance to speak to different people when practicing.
“Just because it’s a class, it’s a different teaching situation,” said Caldwell. “Often, people who leave here only speak their native tongue. Their friends all speak German or Filipino or Chinese. And so, when they come here, if they hear different volunteers, they hear it in different ways. In fact, they will hear your English different then my English, which gives them more experience.”
People can volunteer for as much as they want, although Caldwell says that volunteering two hours a week is a “good block of time”, but they can work around any schedule.
“Really, we’re open to what they can offer.”
Teaching English can seem a little daunting, as many may have forgotten what we learned in our high school English classes, but the center can help you refresh your memory.
The benefits of volunteering at the drop-in centre include feeling good about yourself, helping out those who couldn’t get help otherwise, contributing to the community, networking and meeting new people.
Those who wish to volunteer at the drop-in centre should go to the centre, located at 5327 – 48 Ave, and let the staff know that you are interested in volunteering. You will be required to complete a police background check and a vulnerable sector check, since you may be working closely with children. If you have first aid knowledge, it is considered a bonus.