Blog Post

Volunteers & Supporting Specialized Learner Needs in ELL Programming (podcast episode)

By: Marco Campana
March 26, 2021

AMSSA's The Informal English Language Learning Podcast is a great resource full of useful information. This episode focuses on Volunteers and Supporting Specialized Learner Needs in ELL Programming.

This episode touches interesting themes: ELL service providers and volunteers support literacy learners, newcomers with multiple barriers, and learners with low digital literacy skills. Experts in working with volunteers explain key aspects of working effectively with the volunteers who are essential to success. The podcast touches on improvisations made to program delivery during the pandemic, and a future with blended learning in the context of the specialized needs of multi-barriered individuals.

From the show notes:

In this episode, language instruction service providers who are experts in working with volunteers explain how volunteers are integral to their programs. They described how they recruit volunteers and provide orientation and training to make sure they get a strong start. They speak about the ways they retain volunteers through ongoing support, professional development, recognition and appreciation, and building a sense of community among the team.

Volunteers as well as service providers support literacy learners, newcomers with multiple barriers, and learners with low digital literacy skills. The podcast touches on improvisations made to program delivery during the pandemic, a post-COVID future that will likely include blended learning (in-person and online), in the context of the specialized needs of multi-barriered individuals.

For newcomers, English language skills are an important factor in settlement and integration. They reduce isolation, contribute to community connections and a sense of belonging. English skills are needed to find and retain viable employment, and for workplace communication and safety. Through language, newcomers can build independence in accessing services. English skills increase newcomers’ ability to fully participate in BC society. These are objectives of the BC Settlement and Integration Services program, and why English language training is such an important service.

Some newcomers, like those with temporary immigration status, are not eligible for the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada or LINC program. Those who are not eligible still need language training. That’s where informal language training comes in. It’s why almost all BCSIS service providers offer Informal Language training like conversation groups and tutoring for English practice.

The flexibility of informal English training programs can be ideal for newcomers who are experiencing change and uncertainty. Training methods that are not as structured as LINC still help meet their needs. Almost all BCSIS clients are eligible for, and benefit from, Informal language practice. Supplementary resources and fiscal efficiency are vital to service providers as they serve many clients from a wide range of language levels, each with unique needs. Volunteers contribute immensely to organizational capacity with their skills, knowledge, capability, and dedication.

Watch the conversation:


or listen to the audio:


Listen to previous episodes here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

arrow-circle-upmagnifier