Can international volunteers personally help a child in Ukraine during the pandemic? Absolutely! 12 young people at the Munich International School helped 12 disadvantaged young people in Ukraine to improve their English conversation skills through weekly online tutoring from January to April.
Everyone saw improvements and gained in confidence. In both Germany and Ukraine young people could learn about a different culture and lifestyle and develop communication skills. Speaking English and listening confidently is a valuable skill to have in Ukraine, partly because English opens up job opportunities in Lviv’s IT and tourism industries. Would tutors recommend volunteering in this way?
Yes, because it is a great experience to learn about other cultures and to teach them a language in which they will benefit a lot from in their future.
The young people in Ukraine were 12 to 19 years old, and were either fostered or in low-income families where children often rely on crisis centers for additional support. The tutors in Germany were in their final years of secondary school. We started off with a training session for the volunteer tutors, then introduced the tutors and students to each other.
There was nervousness on both sides at the start. Some students felt shy about making mistakes when they spoke or struggled to find the right words. Online translation tools were a great help and the tutors were creative with finding methods and resources that worked well for them. While some focused on grammar to assist with school work, others would select a short YouTube video to match the student’s interest and then have a conversation to summarise and discuss the video.
We provided ongoing support, with Bohdana Luhova helping to confirm meeting times and supervising progress. At monthly Tutor Review meetings we shared ideas and discussed any issues. Every tutor noticed good progress in the three months of weekly sessions. An information pack is being prepared for the next series of tutoring sessions to share tips and useful resources.
We presented this volunteer initiative at an online Duke of Edinburgh meeting for participating schools in Germany, and there are four schools where teachers would like to get volunteers involved for our next English conversation tutoring course in September. We look forward to welcoming new volunteers!