A good way to practice social skills while helping others

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riverotter
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24 Nov 2007, 4:31 pm

I have been a volunteer tutor in an ESL (English as a Second Language) program, helping native Spanish speakers practice their English. It's been a fun challenge. The first half hour of each evening is small talk at whatever level of English competency the particular students have, followed by a structured English grammar lesson (one of my stronger skills), and the third part enforces the grammar lesson with some spoken or written activities.

Each volunteer is assigned one or two (occasionally three) students; with one exception I have always been assigned women. At first I was really nervous because of my glaring lack of social skills (and the tutors get assigned different students every time!), but many of the students in the class are just as nervous because their English is imperfect. They seem to appreciate my matter-of-fact corrections when they are necessary since I'm not judging them, and I have a lot of patience when I need to.

It works out well. They help me practice small talk and other social skills (I'm especially working on not interrupting others and learning how to keep a conversation going), and I help them practice English.

Does anyone else have a positive volunteering experience that helped you also?



pandabear
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26 Nov 2007, 2:29 pm

That sounds like a lot of fun. I worked as an English teacher in Asia for a while. It is a great way to make some money while traveling.



riverotter
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26 Nov 2007, 7:07 pm

At least here, I have the advantage in knowing the language of the dominant culture!
Did you find you fit in well with non-Americans?
One part of Daniel Tammet's Born on a Blue Day that I found especially intriguing was his travels abroad. He stated that he felt like he fit in better with non-English speakers. He felt as though he was accepted more by them than by people in his own country.



richardbenson
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26 Nov 2007, 10:12 pm

i just cannot wait unil i move away! i will be so into helping people where nobody knows me, its gonna rule! :P