Kay Neville is one of the first volunteers to sign up and be matched with a student under the Community Northern Beaches English Conversation Programme. She has considerable experience teaching English whilst living in other areas of Australia.
Kay is thoroughly enjoying the experience and finds it very rewarding because not only is her student’s English improving but she herself is learning so much about Tibetan culture which she finds fascinating. Not to mention the delicious treats that Tsering very kindly brings when they meet up.
Tsering arrived in Australia in 2014 and has lived in the Northern Beaches area for 4 years with her 2 teenage children, firstly in Beacon Hill and now in Brookvale. Her son has recently finished university where he studied engineering. She loves meeting up with Kay every week and they have developed a lasting friendship.
Phyl Jelinek, Volunteer ESL Programme Co-ordinator met with Kay Neville and Tibetan student Tsering for a chat;
What made you want to volunteer as an ESL teacher and how long have you been in the programme?
Kay: “I have taught English in other places that I’ve lived around Australia, so when I moved to the Northern Beaches in Sydney I was quickly drawn to the idea of volunteering for the English conversation programme being offered by Community Northern Beaches. I went to an information morning and was immediately matched with Tsering. We’ve been meeting regularly for more than 6 months now”
How did you find out about the CNB ESL Programme?
Kay: “I saw a notice about the information morning on the notice board at the Community Northern Beaches offices in Manly.”
How were you matched with your student?
Kay: “Dhondhup helped with the process. I think we were matched because we lived fairly close to each other”.
Where do you meet and how often?
Kay: “Tsering and I meet one day a week either in a library or a coffee shop depending on what we decide to do. We have been to the markets together in Manly which was fun and sometimes we use the computers in the library to look things up. We also sometimes discuss the English she is studying at TAFE. We arrange to meet for an hour but the sessions often last longer depending on what we are doing.”
Are you enjoying your meetings with Kay?
Tsering: “I enjoy it very much. Kay is a very good teacher and she also helps me when I need help completing forms and understanding government documents. Kay has also taught me how to use my phone to text messages so we use text messaging to arrange our meetings now. It’s very good.”
Do you enjoy studying at TAFE?
Tsering: “Yes, I study English at TAFE 3 days a week. Kay sometimes helps me understand these lessons as well. I have also recently passed the exam that allows me to get a cleaning job so I can start looking for work now. Please let everyone know that I am available to clean houses. I would do a good job.”
Do you enjoy other interests?
Tsering: “Yes, I love dancing in the Tibetan style. A group of us, four women and four men, meet every week to practice Tibetan folk dancing. I like it very much.”
Do you have any feedback on the programme that might be helpful?
Tsering: “No, I think it is working very well but I know there are others in my community who would like to learn English so more volunteers would be good”.
Kay: “Not really, although to encourage more volunteers I think it should be emphasised that you don’t need to be a qualified English teacher to join this programme. Informal English conversation is the key and teaching vocabulary needed on a day to day basis to get by, communicate effectively and thereby improve quality of life here in Australia.”