It’s January – and the start of a new term – so I’ve been thinking a lot about FELLOW. Namely: how do we convince qualified ESL teachers that volunteering with us is worth their time?
We’re fortunate to include a number of ELT editors, professional teacher trainers and a couple of ELT textbook authors in our list of volunteers, but attracting new faces has always been a problem. This might be surprising, given that Oxford is positively overrun with ELTers (mainly hiding out at a certain branch of Costa with their laptops!) and a number of language schools in the area offer CELTA and or DELTA training.
This term we’ve ‘collected’ volunteers in our usual way (via our extensive mailing lists, and word-of-mouth) and also held our first real recruitment event: a lunchtime stand in the lobby of a certain well-known Oxford-based publisher. One of our FELLOW committee members took charge of organizing and setting up the stand, and also did an excellent job of finding volunteers to run it over two days. We also gathered testimonials from teachers and learners, as well as a local newspaper article about one of our Syrian learners.
So how well did we do? In four hours: sixteen email addresses! That may sound like a paltry number, given how much effort went into putting the stand together (I really wish I had taken a photo before it was dismantled), but we only need an extra 1-2 volunteers in order to make a difference to the teaching timetable.
One of my tasks this weekend is to email all these new recruits and ascertain how they would like to be involved in FELLOW. Only time will tell how many of them end up in the classroom with us…