The experience of an american student volunteering in Welcommon Hostel teaching english to refugees

By January 8, 2020Actions
Hello. I am Hope.
From late September to late November I volunteered at Welcommon Hostel with Wind of Renewal.
Though stressful, this was an incredible experience. When I started by shadowing the English-language teacher’s classes, I enjoyed getting to observe and then help with pronunciation and spelling when needed. It was challenging at that point in trying to think about how I would lead my classes as each class was so different and what I would teach them.
When it got closer to the time of my teaching I was incredibly nervous. I have never taught in such a capacity before and I only speak English. Planning and creating lessons was hard because I didn’t have much structure to follow. Welcommon Hostel and Wind of Renewal lets the volunteers lead the class how they want and I did not know what things English language classes are supposed to cover.
However, it became a lot easier to create the lessons when the students would give input into what they wanted to learn and I would try to base the class around their interests as much as possible. Not only did it make teaching the class easier, but the students were more engaged and the class was overall more fun! It also got easier when I got an English Language textbook. Having a book showed me the format that should be followed and how to teach the tenses in the best way possible.
On the last day of classes when I put a verb on the board and made them conjugate the word in every tense and create a sentence using the conjugated verb, seeing the progress the students had made from their respective first classes was so rewarding. On my last day of teaching, I tested the students on what we had learned. I felt this beneficial as it would help the next teachers (who were sitting in) see where the students were at in their English-language speaking abilities. As well, I was able to get answers to some of the questions I had when teaching as the students vocally told me they enjoyed the class, and would sometimes tell me during class what they wished I would do better (speak slower, spend more time focusing on teaching, having a more accessible way to communicate across the language barrier, etc).
My time at Welcommon, while challenging, was incredibly rewarding and pushed me in ways I truly have never been pushed before.

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