Friday, January 25, 2013

Conversations, volunteer style

A few days ago, I received an email from one of the many people in charge of programs at the library.  She wanted to know if I were interested in "Table Talk", and if I were to come in and have a chat.  Now, I've heard some scuttlebutt about Table Talk but not much actual info. After walking about the rabbit warren of offices on the top floor, I finally just gave up and asked someone for "Beckie's" office.  LOL I had walked right past it!  Her name was second on the placard, and much smaller, and yeah basically I'm blind.  After a nice chat, she gave me a choice of times to go and observe an actual meeting to see if I'd be interested in facilitating my own group.  We set up a date for today, and gave me a worksheet to take notes on, that I promptly forgot to print out until moments before the class, but jotted down her questions in a notebook, so was good to go.  

Table talk is for non-native english speakers who struggle with conversational english.  The group is organized very loosely, this isnt a class to learn english in, but a way in improve speaking skills.  Today we talked about climate change, and what we as individuals can do about it.  The facilitators walk around and listen in to the conversations, and help out by correcting pronunciations, and plurals, and the like.  Asian languages dont use plurals, so for them, its a tricky thing, and then you add in the words where the word itself is altered to show multiples, tis quite tricky really if you stop to think on it, add in our english grammar quirks, and that makes it tricky for people to learn.

It was a full class today, 17, we were our own little United Nations, with people from: Mexico, Spain, India, Korea, Iran, Sudan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Egypt and the Ivory Coast!!  Some had been here quite a while, the longest was 11 years, but she was surrounded by people who spoke her native language, so her english was slow to grow, and the newest only 4 months!  She was very uncertain of herself at first, but settled right down and seemed to enjoy the class.   To get things rolling, and help break the ice a bit, we all took turns introducing ourselves, that was a very interesting part of the class for me to understand where they are in their lives.  

I'm excited now to start working with my own group!  What I find interesting is the exchange of cultures that occurred in class.  They learn about our culture while improving their english skills, and I learned about their cultures.  In my books thats a solid win/win/win!  

After my class gets going, I'll only have three days a week where I don't volunteer at the library, no shift is more than 3 hours though.  But still, I'm out and about, meeting interesting people, doing needful work, and having a great time doing it.  The cherry on the sundae is that I now have a friend to go and do stuff with. 


  1. That is awesome news. Congrats!

  2. That sounds like fun, and a way to help people with their English, which is a really hard language to learn.

  3. That sounds awesome! A great opportunity to socialize with people you normally wouldn't ever get together with, and help them at the same time.

    You're right, English is tricky, it's hard to believe that ANYONE can learn it as a second language!

    Peace <3

  4. Sounds like fun! I hope you're enjoying it. :-P