From our Wellington centre, a story written by dedicated ESOL home tutor Tho, who has been working with his former refugee learner Awng San since mid-2017.
My name is Tho Vo. I come from Vietnam. I am currently doing my PhD in Education at Victoria University of Wellington. I had some years’ experience in teaching English in my home country before coming to New Zealand.
During my study, I was looking for opportunities to bring my values to the community by connecting with people, offering support and sharing my experience. That is why I came to English Language Partners Wellington and got trained up to become a volunteer ESOL home tutor.
Finishing the training, I was matched with a learner from Myanmar. He is Awng San Lahpai, a refugee coming to New Zealand in late 2016. He can speak a little English and two Myanmarese languages including Kachin and Burmese.
When we first met, he was not confident in his English, but motivated in learning. He was studying English full time at a language school. He wanted to achieve English Level 3 so that he could study something for a future job.
We meet for a one-and-a-half-hour lesson, once a week. Some first lessons were a little hard as we could not understand each other. Things turned out to be better when we started conversing about our daily life, hobbies, and home-country-related topics.
I used simple questions to encourage him to talk and provided him with necessary vocabulary to make him feel comfortable in expressing ideas. We both share similar cultures, so we can find lots of things in common when talking about our experiences in a new country.
Awng San is getting more confident and fluent in communication. He is now studying Health and Wellbeing at WELTEC. He is looking forward to having a stable job as a support worker. He also has some hours working part-time at a restaurant where he can practise English more with his co-workers.
We are still working together as Awng San hopes to learn more English related to the Health and Wellbeing sector.
The lessons are now like conversations between friends in which we share with each other about different things and offer support when one of us is in need.
Thanks to the ESOL Home Tutoring programme at ELP, I am able to have a new friend and do something valuable for the community, especially the refugees who are struggling to settle in a new country.
If you are considering becoming a volunteer ESOL home tutor with English Language Partners, you can find out more and apply here.