In June 2019, Jane Tseng moved to Canada from Taiwan. Back home, she worked both as an ESL teacher and a student counsellor and was quite involved with the Taiwanese chapter of Toastmaster’s Club. This past November, Jane came to GGP looking for volunteer opportunities and jumped right into Bob and Larraine’s Literacy Foundation class, primarily supporting a visually-impaired student as well as other students several times a week.
LINC instructor Larraine praised Jane saying, “Jane is warm-hearted, is able to put people at ease very quickly, and is compassionate and intuitive. She is open-minded, culturally sensitive and a learner at heart. She creates or adapts material on the spot if needed. Jane is very inclusive in her approach and makes the students with whom she works feel valued and successful.”
Jane has also recently started helping a client prepare for the CELPIP exam, using her teaching skills to study with him over Zoom every week. Jane has been a huge help and we greatly appreciate her dedication to GGP as both a volunteer and a client–even when her husband came for a short visit from Taiwan, she made sure he also participated in many GGP activities.
Now we’ll turn it over to Jane, who kindly answered a few questions about her experience:
Why did you move to Saskatoon?
Twenty-five years ago I took a course called Western Civilization in my freshmen year in college back home, and the professor was born and raised in Saskatoon; therefore, the Paris of the Prairies became the first city I know in Canada. Last September when I had a chance to think about where to settle in Canada for good, Saskatoon was on top of my short list even though I had never been to the city.
Why did you decide to volunteer at GGP?
One day when I was on the bus ride home, I saw plenty of printed national flags on the windows of GGP Language Centre. I told myself that I want to meet people from around the world with what I have always been good at, teaching English. Interestingly enough, Google Maps led me to the GGP Main Office instead of the Language Centre the next day when I decided to walk in asking for volunteer opportunities. I believe it’s a beautiful mistake happening to me because I have had enjoyable time ever since I started serving clients.
What has stood out while volunteering in the ESL classroom?
My ESL teaching experience taught me that efficient learning is majorly determined by the level of comfort learners have in classroom settings. By comfort I mean the tone set in classrooms, and volunteer-client interactions that make students feel very willing to try and make mistakes when practicing English, especially verbally. My strategy is to share my experience as an ESL learner regarding how I have made progress by being reminded of more appropriate usages when my language resulted in confusion. I am glad to see my relationship with clients allows them to trust, and I believe that my role is to find practical ways to enhance proper usage of English.
What have you learned as a volunteer, and what advice can you share with others?
I am also a newcomer here, but I feel it’s my privilege to be able to help at this time. Being one of them makes me more aware of the fact that newcomers are facing various challenges almost daily, so improving English skills may not always be the priority for them. My first advice is to never cease sending out the messages that we volunteers are always around ready to help and even would like to wait when clients think they need time before getting back on track.
Being patient is the second piece of advice I would offer. In terms of English learning, it’s very important for volunteers and newcomers to mutually agree with the fact that from time to time progress can be less satisfactory than expected. I never hesitate to tell clients that it is common if they see little progress for a while because normally it means substantial improvement in the future if they maintain a pace of learning.
GGP is so lucky to have Jane as part of our team. She is always looking for more ways to get involved and build relationships. Thank you for sharing your time and energy with us, Jane!