English-in-Action (EIA) is part of a nationwide program in which volunteers give their time to tutoring University of California students and visiting scholars in English on a one-to-one basis. Their family members and also students at UC Berkeley Ex... Read more
English-in-Action (EIA) is part of a nationwide program in which volunteers give their time to tutoring University of California students and visiting scholars in English on a one-to-one basis. Their family members and also students at UC Berkeley Extension meet with a volunteer in small groups of 2 to 5 participants. Students attending adult school and local community colleges may apply, as well, but cannot be given priority. Students attending private language schools and immigrants are not eligible because there are not enough volunteers available.
Visitors and volunteers benefit from this association. Visitors benefit by increasing their proficiency in English and their understanding of the American way of life. Volunteers enjoy the fulfillment that comes from providing someone with an invaluable skill and the unique opportunity to know someone from another culture. Both visitors and volunteers alike form a special relationship based on mutual respect and learning.
This program is free to all international members with a one-year membership in the YWCA (of $20).
The following are the responsibilities of both visitors and volunteers:
Weekly conversation practice for one hour, any day and time suitable to you and your partner. Meetings can take place any day of the week.
Regular attendance at weekly sessions and the courtesy of phoning in advance, whenever possible, if unable to attend.
Prompt notification to your partner and to the English In Action (EIA) office of any change of address or telephone number.
International partners must be YWCA members at a cost of $20 per person per year. This money goes to the YWCA, which supports the administrative costs of the English In Action program. This must be paid upon registration. Beyond this, the program is free.
English-in-Action connects locals with visitors from around the world. The casual nature of this volunteering program means you can decide where and when to meet each week. I generally grab coffee with my partner after work but have also met up with them to play tennis and cook meals. My previous Italian visitor made me a delicious seafood pasta and taught me a little about Italian cooking. What starts as a conversational partner may very well turn into a new friend. I am even planning on visiting him in Rome next summer!
I've been coaching visiting scholars for well over a year now and it has meant many good things to me. First of all, it is great fun to meet and know someone while helping them to improve their language skills (and I do it all in English). But I also get to meet and know individuals from faraway cultures and I learn about their food, families, language, politics, humor, etc. And we become friends. It is mutually enriching and I intend to continue doing this work.
English in Action affords volunteers the opportunity to meet people of all ages from all over the world and to help make their adjustment to life in the US better. It gives volunteers the chance to make an impact on how foreign students and scholars feel about the USA and it allows us--the volunteers--to learn about and from people of all different countries and cultures. In other words, in rather lofty terms, it increases understanding and empathy. It requires no specific training and very little time commitment--ultimately--one hour per week. I have made friends from all over and stay in touch with them even after they leave the Bay Area. I have been a volunteer for about 7 years now and always enjoy the encounters. If you feel you are mismatched, there is aways the possibility to shift partnerships--on either end, One can even do language exchanges--an hour of English for an hour of another language.