Sharon (left), a volunteer tutor with the Access2English program, works with program participant Sophie.

Volunteers urgently needed to tutor adult learners in Abbotsford

Access2English program assists newcomers with reading, speaking, writing and math

The Access2English program is seeking volunteers to help tutor adult learners in Abbotsford.

Access2English is an Abbotsford Community Services program that pairs trained community volunteers with adult newcomers who want to improve their reading, writing, speaking or math skills, but are unable to access literacy or ESL classes or programs.

Program co-ordinator Paulette Corkum said there are currently more than 50 students on the waiting list. Their lack of opportunity to practise conversational English can hold them back from obtaining employment, attending school or qualifying to be a permanent resident, she said.

“While improving their literacy is the main goal, newcomers also benefit from having someone they can trust and ask about life in Canada,” she added.

Ideal candidates are those who have teaching or tutoring experience. However, training, workshops and support are provided for volunteers.

“As long as you have a passion for helping newcomers integrate, you can make a difference,” Corkum said.

One of the long-term volunteers is Don Strangway, who was looking for a volunteer opportunity after a 40-year career as a doctor.

He was initially concerned about having no teaching background, but took advantage of the training sessions and felt they made him better equipped to help others. Strangway finds the opportunity to connect with people from different parts of the world the most rewarding part.

While he tutors, he gets to learn about other countries and experiences. Seeing how much the students benefit from one-on-one tutoring also “adds an extra spark” of enjoyment for Strangway.

Volunteers can arrange their tutoring sessions according to their schedule and usually commit to two to four hours a week.

Visit AbbotsfordCommunityServices.com/volunteer or call 604-768-6277 to sign up as a volunteer tutor.

RELATED: Adult ESL students honoured at Celebration of Learning Awards

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Don Strangway is a volunteer tutor with the Access2English program of Abbotsford Community Services.

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