EFL volunteer Bethany Smith says that playing a role in helping improve pre-sessional students’ English skills is the most rewarding aspect of volunteering.
The second-year Spanish and TESOL student from London joins pre-sessional classes for two hours a week to help assist teachers in lessons.
“For two hours a week I’ll join an EFL class. It doesn’t require any preparation beforehand, just your time and usually the teacher will get us to help out with a small group. Then we help the students with activities, not giving the answers necessarily but helping to answer any questions they have,” explained Bethany, who has aspirations of becoming a teacher herself.
“When someone has asked you a question one week about grammar or vocabulary and then the following week you see that they’ve applied it correctly and are then able to use that is very rewarding.
“We did an activity last week where we reviewed all that we’d done and it did prove that the students had learnt and remembered what they’d learnt. It’s rewarding knowing that you’ve had an input into their learning.”
Bethany hopes to become an English or Spanish teacher once she graduates and is using the volunteering to gain essential experience in the field. Having been assisting in classes since October, she feels the volunteering is having an impact on her course and career.
“One of the modules I took was about adapting EFL to ESOL materials so having that knowledge of being in an EFL class but also experience of teaching in an ESOL class has really helped me develop my understanding of the difference between the two and also how you would approach them in different ways as a teacher.
“It’s definitely given me more guidance for what I’d like to do in the future.”
Through helping out in classes, Bethany has seen first-hand the development of pre-sessional students and would recommend the course to anyone looking to improve their English skills.
“The classes are always really good and there’s plenty of help from the volunteers.
“You get to meet a lot of people who are in the same situation as you which is always good when you move to a new country and are by yourself at first. It’s good for meeting people, building relationships and improving your English.”