On Monday volunteers from Talk English in Kirklees shared their experiences of volunteering. Jess, Jamila, Saeeda, Kaneez and Samina are all volunteering through Ravensthorpe Community Centre as Talk English Friends and Teachers in Ravensthorpe and at the Al-Hikmah Centre in Batley. Kaneez, a Talk English Friend, described how she came to volunteer at Ravensthorpe with […]
On Monday volunteers from Talk English in Kirklees shared their experiences of volunteering. Jess, Jamila, Saeeda, Kaneez and Samina are all volunteering through Ravensthorpe Community Centre as Talk English Friends and Teachers in Ravensthorpe and at the Al-Hikmah Centre in Batley.
Kaneez, a Talk English Friend, described how she came to volunteer at Ravensthorpe with Talk English. Before training as a Talk English Friend, Kaneez visited the centre to find out what she could get involved with. When she finally got up the courage to enrol on a basic IT course, she said ‘I was shy, I was nervous… after the first session I said to myself that I was not going back and that it was too difficult’. But luckily for Talk English, with a little encouragement from her daughter and support from the staff at the centre, she persevered and overcame her fear of speaking in front of people. Kaneez now uses her new-found confidence to support local women to speak English at the popular Talk English Cafe at Ravensthorpe Community Centre.
Jamila got involved as she had some spare time on her hands, so approached Ravensthorpe, who told her about the Talk English project and the opportunity to train as a volunteer teacher. Although she found the training course and the paperwork fine, it was a different story when she first started teaching- ‘I was really nervous when I had to stand in front of everyone and talk, I hated it, I couldn’t talk because I didn’t feel very confident, but I’ve got a lot better now and I don’t feel bad about getting up and talking to people and I have more confidence’. Since starting to volunteer at Ravensthorpe, Jamila has successfully applied for a job as a receptionist at the centre.
Saeeda initially started as a learning mentor with Pre-entry learners on a one-to-one basis, which she liked because the progress she saw her mentees make was amazing. Saeeda described what kept her going- ‘helping others achieve what they want to achieve is very satisfying and quite rewarding’. Her experiences as a mentor prompted Saeeda to take the plunge and she enrolled on the Level 3 Award in Education and Training, which is being delivered for volunteer teachers on the Talk English project by Kirklees College. Like Jamila, she found her initial teaching experiences petrifying, but luckily for Saeeda and her learners at the Al-Hikmah Centre, that fear has now gone and she enjoys delivering the lessons.
Samina had recently finished a degree, and was looking for voluntary work but she wasn’t sure whether to go into social work or teaching. After seeing the opportunity to volunteer with Talk English on the internet, Samina put in an application and attended an induction session. Shortly after she started the Level 3 Award in Education and Training and started volunteering with Ravensthorpe. Samina describes her experience as a ‘fantastic opportunity’ which has really helped her confidence. She says that her learners tell her constantly that they enjoy coming to class and because of them she’s made up her mind to go into teaching.
Describing her learners’ attitudes to learning English, Samina said that ‘a lot of the learners we come into contact with, it’s surprising and very rewarding to know that this is sometimes the first time they’ve ever had any kind of teaching or been in a learning English environment and they’ve been in this country for many decades, so they are a bit nervous going to the college. But when you’re talking to them throughout the course,they’re like ‘oh I can do this, or what other opportunities are there?’ ‘
Samina feels that that the learners really appreciate the friendly, supportive environment of the Talk English Courses and Cafes, and that the informality subtly encourages the learners to progress onto other learning- ‘they just think it’s informal but through this they come here because they want to do something easy, not a proper course or formal learning, then after having done this course, they’re like ‘where else can I go to get a certificate or a further qualification?’
Samina was also keen to stress the other skills her learners have- ‘they’re so good, they have so many fantastic skills that they just need to develop them a bit more, someone who’ll help them, support them and that’s all really.’
When asked what she’d say to someone considering volunteering with Talk English, Samina said ‘go for it- you’ll learn a lot and you’ll benefit a lot and you’re putting a lot back to your learners as well.’
Like Jamila, Samina has also recently got a job as a Learning Support Officer with Ravensthorpe, something that has happened through being part of the Talk English project.
Coming soon- Jess tells us about her experiences as a volunteer on the project in Kirklees.