Lily the VolunteerLast week I was looking at the AMES Australia online bookshop and realised they had a new FREE-to-download publication: Lily the Volunteer: an introduction to volunteering for CALD volunteers.

That title is self-explanatory – the resource is all about ‘Lily’s’ foray into volunteering. It’s at post-beginner level, and the five units are: Getting Started, Making Contact, First Day, Overcoming Obstacles and Reflection. You can download and use them next week – but the audio isn’t yet available – I’ll keep checking and update this post when it is. (NOTE: Jan 2018: I’ve updated the resources link, but the audio is still not there.)

Finding out about workplace culture

The writer was Maggie Power (whose name you probably know from the Passages series, but she’s written so many Australian ESL resources). She really takes into account the language abilities of post-beginner learners, while still exploring all sorts of vital cultural issues, like how to remember unfamiliar names, responding to feedback, Australian workplace norms, safety risks and what to say, how to be assertive, being evaluated…things that can be quite new and challenging for anyone who hasn’t grown up in our system.

Volunteering and Pre-Employment English?

I’m happy to see this resource for two reasons: the first is that at work we’re always promoting volunteering as a way to connect with the community, gain work skills, a possible reference, etc. The other reason is that at AMEP, we’re about to transition to the two streams of Pre-Employment and Social English – and clearly this resource will be useful for both streams, as well as for SEE and other English language programs, of course.

Lily explores different volunteering options, and decides to become an Aged Care visitor, but there are little case study notes from other volunteer positions. I particularly like the Overcoming Obstacles section where Lily is told she can help move a resident out of bed and has to – politely but firmly – say she’s not trained to do that; this is followed up by a section on assertive communication.

I know that volunteer organisations are always keen to give talks to our learners, to help them negotiate the pathway to being a volunteer, but this resource would give learners the confidence to understand more about what’s going on and what’s expected of them – and maybe just the confidence to jump in and apply…