Who we are:
Olivia: I’ve lived in Worcester for about one year. I am from China and I came here for school many years ago. I am thirty years old and I signed up for tutoring to improve my English speaking skills. I have been with my tutor, Joan, for about six months.
Joan: I am a retired lawyer and I became a Literacy Volunteer a few years ago. I wanted to work with people trying to find their place in a new country and community. Because that is a huge challenge, I thought students would be very motivated, positive and interesting individuals. And I was right!
What we have learned from tutoring:
Olivia: As I learned more cultural things and as my English has improved I have more confidence. I’m not afraid to talk with anyone now. I went to yoga class last week and introduced myself to a few people before class. When I went skiing I talked with people next to me in line and on the lift. I think understanding the culture is very important.
Things we have enjoyed doing together:
- Reading aloud and discussing books written for children or young people. These books have easier vocabulary, plot lines, are shorter than adult books and are fun.
- Reading and discussing newspaper articles about China and about American politics. This is difficult but rewarding.
- Finding and discussing unfamiliar vocabulary and idioms as we read and talk together.
- Talking about the similarities and the differences between China and America.
- Sharing some details about our respective cultures.
- Meeting in different places for weekly lessons. This gives us new topics of conversation and the chance for Olivia to practice conversation with other people. We have been to different coffee shops and the Courthouse where Joan used to work. We even spent one lesson talking about the American judicial system.
- Olivia was invited to speak at a Library Foundation event. She practiced her talk several times with Joan as the “audience”. We attended the event and Olivia did exceptionally well!
Both: When we have a conversation and are able to share our experiences in our families, our upbringing, and our different cultures with each other.
Olivia: Knowing I have the support of my tutor makes me happier.
Joan: Getting to know Olivia is a pleasure and having the opportunity to help her grow in her conversation skills and confidence is very rewarding.