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Increase in volunteer English tutors needed to cope with migration

Feb 20th, 2016 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

fff2The recent surge in publicity regarding the refugee crises may inspire more volunteers to teach refugees and migrants English – and they will be welcomed.

The Lower Hutt English Learning Partners programme is doing well with about 100 volunteers currently teaching English to migrants and refugees, says Lower Hutt branch manager Christine Cook.

“We have over 250 learners and over 400 a year receiving some sort of service,” says Christine says.

“I think the publicity is really helping, people hear about it in the news and feel that there’s a cause that they can contribute to.”

Christine says most migrants and refugees want to work, but it’s difficult to find without having enough English skills.

Refugees and migrants face a number of challenges such as cultural barriers, employment troubles, and discrimination.

But the most common challenge is learning to speak English, and Li Ming is a typical example.

“When I tried to get my first job, my agent rang me and could hear my English wasn’t good. He suggested I learn English first” says Li, a migrant who came to Lower Hutt from China in 2003.

Li followed his advice and discovered the English Learning Partners programme.

Soon afterwards, she and her husband Kevin were paired with a volunteer tutor, Tim May, who taught them English, for over three years.

“We just wanted a chance to talk to with people and Tim gave us a very good opportunity to do this.”

More than five years after Li and Kevin’s English tutoring has finished, they still occasionally find it difficult to hold deeper conversations with people.

“It just takes time,” says Christine.

James Davis, a volunteer English tutor who started recently was inspired to tutor.

“I thought it would be a really good cause to get involved in especially with the exploding refugee population worldwide.

“Teaching English makes sense to me on a very basic level because how can someone laugh at my jokes if they don’t understand what I’m saying?”

If you would like to volunteer to teach English to a refugee or migrant, you can find all the information to do so at

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