Videos keep volunteers and learners connected through lockdown


Travelled overseas? It’s really tricky having face-to-face chats with a smattering of the local lingo.

Now imagine having a phone call in another language – listening and responding is much, much trickier!

Linda McCullagh’s an ESOL home tutor with our Wellington centre. She volunteers to teach Salwa and Ibrahim, a couple from Syria who don’t speak English well yet.

“Once New Zealand went into lockdown,” says Linda, “I realised it would be difficult keeping in touch via phone calls. So I had to quickly come up with a workaround solution.”

Linda’s been keeping in touch through short videos she’s shot around her home and garden.

“I’m making little videos in WhatsApp,” Linda says. “I talk to Salwa and Ibrahim about what I’m doing in isolation.”

“They’re just short snippets of what I’m up to, and I usually shoot them in selfie mode so they can see my face for most of the video. Salwa and Ibrahim can replay the videos to make sure they catch what I’m saying.”

“I always get a lot of lovely emojis back from them and sometimes Arabic messages!”

While lessons in person aren’t possible under lockdown, the efforts of our volunteers to keep connected with their learners is quite inspirational.

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