Welcome to our second volunteer to find themselves In the Spotlight – our monthly look at what some of our lovely volunteers do here and how they feel about it!

This month ESOL teacher Martha McCaul shares some of her thoughts and experiences of teaching at The Welcoming. Martha says:

“I joined the welcoming in December 2016 as a Volunteer English Language Teacher from a financial services background. I had worked for over 35 years and now semi-retired wanted to give something back to the community. I had always enjoyed working with people and was at my happiest in a coaching role helping others to understand complex processes and procedures and ensuring documents were in plain English. 

I was interested in adult literacy and I completed a CELTA course allowing me to teach English as a second language. I did not wish to travel abroad to teach and so searched for opportunities in Edinburgh. I was welcomed with open arms to the Welcoming Association and began teaching classes at various levels. This is a most rewarding challenge. I currently teach a beginners class (A1 level) and never really know from one week to the next, how many or which level of beginner will attend the class. I prepare my lessons with additional material to ensure everyone is accommodated.

The Welcoming participants are extremely friendly and incredibly eager to learn and are very appreciative of the lessons and patience of the teachers. It is very rewarding when you see a beginner who arrives at the first class and can only say their name and where they come from in English, progress to the intermediate and upper intermediate classes.

I really enjoy working with The Welcoming Association because it welcomes so many different people from many different cultures and backgrounds and everyone is treated with respect. The students who arrive from the different countries are so enthusiastic about learning English it puts the British culture of being mostly monolingual to shame. Teaching English is rewarding, but it comes with challenges. Although the participants are encouraged to come to the office to be assessed, many do not and often present themselves for classes either above or below their actual level of English keeping the teachers on their toes.  Students come from all over the world to English classes at the Welcoming. In the beginners class we currently have students from Eastern and Western Europe, Libya, Iran, Iraq and Syria, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Dominican Republic as well as Thailand, China and Japan. The Welcoming attracts a wide variety of people who come to Edinburgh either to visit or who wish to settle in Scotland and they all want to learn English to help them integrate and find employment. Some participants attend more than one class a day and almost every day of the week and on some occasions bring family members when they come over to the UK to visit.

I thoroughly enjoy the time I spend at the Welcoming both teaching and participating at the Conversation Café and would certainly recommend other ESOL volunteers to join and be part of this amazing organisation.”