It’s hard to put into words how unique our teacher-student partnerships are. So, we decided to ask them about each other.
In the first of the series of blogs where we asked teachers and students to talk about their experiences, Language Beyond Borders volunteer teacher Silvina and student Khuloud talk about their time in class together. The classes began in September 2018 and they worked together for 8 months; they are still in touch.
Silvina on Khuloud
“Khuloud is a fantastic student, easy to teach and more motivated than any other student I’ve met. I felt there was an underlying level of respect and that she really appreciated the classes.
She has a serious long-term goal, which is to get to Canada, so she needs an *IELTS and stressed to me how important it was to her to progress. At first, she was really concerned about her level but over time there was a change in her: I saw her confidence grow.
I don’t know too much about her life, just what she chose to tell me, and I was mindful not to intrude because you never know what can trigger a memory. Despite her life being very different from mine, there is a bond between us. I’m not usually that open but her willingness to engage, and her openness with me, changed that.
The one-to-one nature of the class, the fact that there is no agenda and no boxes to tick, gives you, as a teacher, the freedom to work in a very personal way. It was just me and Khuloud. She’s a very creative person and into recycling, so I was able to create classes that used these interests. We also shared personal photographs and I would message her between classes too. She taught me about Syria, its culture and food.
I’m not officially teaching her anymore, but we keep in touch. Meeting her has enriched my life greatly. You can’t always relate to what you read in the newspapers and I don’t think what is happening is properly represented. With Khuloud I found that human connection.”
Silvina has a strong interest in human rights and a Masters in Public Policy that led her to study issues relating to refugees and asylum seekers, as well as EFL teaching credentials. She is a valued teacher and class coordinator. Silvina is from the UK. She is currently living in Milan.
Khuloud on Silvina
“I love this lady, she’s amazing, the classes always felt like chatting to a friend. She’s so kind and patient. She always told me I was doing a great job and if I had issues with something, we’d repeat it again and again.
After years of waiting to go to Canada, the dream was finally starting to become a reality, a friend told me, ‘you’ll do much better in Canada if you have English’.
So, I began studying English in Ghana, but the school was a long way from my home and with lots of responsibilities on my shoulders, I just couldn’t continue.
During the first class with Silvina I told her I’m a writer, a journalist and Arabic teacher and I want to articulate and communicate complicated issues! One of the things she did was help me to stop thinking in Arabic and to use the English I have, even if I didn’t have all the words I needed. I always felt confident that she wanted to support me and that she understood me. We had really nice classes together. I’d been to institutions to study English before, but because you’re in a class there aren’t always the same opportunities to talk. With Silvina I had a lot of opportunity to talk.
Before meeting Silvina, my writing was better than my speaking. But now I can think in English and I can say what I want. Now I say to my Arabic, ‘Shut up, I want to think in English.’ We discussed a lot of issues! I learnt a lot of vocabulary and I know how to use it. My confidence has grown too. In class I made mistakes and Silvina helped me to realise how to correct them myself”.
Khuloud is a journalist. She came to Ghana as a refugee from Syria in 2011 with her husband and two daughters. Before the end of the year she will leave for Canada.
(*IELTS is the International English Language Testing System for language proficiency)