Kelly Hayes-Crook has been volunteering with OCISO for the last nine months. As a retired high school teacher who had taught English as a Second Language (ESL) students, volunteering at OCISO’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) school was the perfect fit for her.
“This volunteer opportunity came together very nicely, as I had a skill set that would be helpful to newcomers,” says Kelly.
She volunteers for a couple of hours a week, helping LINC students practice their conversation skills. Kelly works with small groups of students. Each week she chats with the students on a particular topic, using a list of questions to get the conversation going.
“Kelly, like many of our volunteers, brings a lot of patience and enthusiasm every week,” says Sharon Deng, LINC Program Manager. “Our students are always very grateful to meet another Canadian to practice their English speaking skills.”
After the pandemic struck in March 2020 and LINC classes moved to the Zoom video conferencing platform, it is not surprising that the first topic of discussion in Kelly’s group was “how are you doing during COVID-19?”
The Zoom platform provides the opportunity for the larger LINC classes to split out into virtual “breakout rooms”, so that students can practice English in small groups. “It’s a great substitute for students who want to stay engaged in the conversation side of learning English,” explains Kelly.
“I immensely enjoy this volunteer work,” adds Kelly. “Many of the students are from diverse backgrounds, with so much skill and so much to offer. My life is richer by learning about their stories. It’s a two way street — I get to learn so much from them, while they are learning English.”
If you are interested in becoming an OCISO volunteer, information can be found here.