03
Feb

English teaching volunteers help launch new life for new Kiwis

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Caption: Former Colombian refugee Galiano Torres has been working in Nelson full time for four months.
Photography: BRADEN FASTIER

(Originally posted in the Nelson Mail: https://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/110010275/english-teaching-volunteers-help-launch-new-life-for-new-kiwis). Written by Skara Bohny

Nelson’s refugee and migrant communities are being boosted into a new life thanks to volunteer English tutors.

One man who has been helped out by local volunteers is Galiano Torres, from Colombia.

Torres said he came to New Zealand a year and a half ago and spoke no English at all. Now, he’s had a job for four months at The New Gate Company.

“It’s good, English is very important. I had no English when I came here.”

Torres has a personal tutor come to his house with English Language Partners (ELP), a group that helps train volunteers, giving them a recognised qualification and pairing them with migrants and refugees.

In fact, Torres has been an over-achiever, taking an English class during the day and a night-class to help with work-specific language as well as practising with his tutor.

“[When I came here] I could understand, but not speak. But now I have two teachers, it’s really good for me.”

English Language Partners - Volunteer English Tutor
Dawt Khun came from Myanmar with her twin boys, and often brings lists of questions to her home tutor, Michelle Cunningham. Photography: BRADEN FASTIER

Torres has three children, all in school, who he said he practices with at home “sometimes”.

Another English-learner with the programme, Dawt Khun, has used ELP to get into higher education. She has also been in New Zealand for about a year and a half, and with the help of her home-tutor has gone from no English to joining an NMIT language class.

“It’s helpful because I can ask anything,” she said.

“I live in New Zealand so I want to learn.”

Khun came from Myanmar with her twin boys. Khun’s tutor, Michelle Cunningham, has helped her with specific language to deal with teachers at her children’s school and to make dentist appointments.

ELP regional manager Tony Fitzgerald said the organisation was “always on the lookout” for new volunteers.

“We’ve got all sorts [of tutors], doctors, teachers, stay-at-home parents … normal every-day people.”

He said anyone who was interested was welcome to get in touch, and after a brief training course would be ready to help newcomers to New Zealand learn the language in either classroom settings or as home tutors.

A three-week training course for English Language Partners Nelson home-based tutors begins this month. Email trish.standring@englishlanguage.org.nz

For more information on volunteering as an ESOL Home Tutor with English Language Partners, visit https://www.englishlanguage.org.nz/volunteer. We have 23 centres nationwide – find your nearest centre here: https://www.englishlanguage.org.nz/centre-list

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Volunteer ESOL Home Tutoring

  • Help former refugees and migrants learn English
  • Indepth training course provided
  • Visit learners in their own homes
  • 1-2 hours per week
  • Learn about other cultures
  • Make new friends
  • Give back and make NZ a better place!
  • In all centres
  • Find out more

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