Financials and Infrastructure
Involving volunteers in language learning require resources. Resources that are almost always limited. How to get support for volunteer involvement? What company policies are relevant and where should you focus?
Volunteer work is not free
It is important to bear in mind that whilst volunteers are not paid for their work, making good use of volunteers in not cost free.
Firstly, there are costs for the volunteers themselves. Volunteers may be turning down paid work elsewhere in order to commit their time. There may be costs for them to travel to and from the place of work and often volunteers will expect to be reimbursed for these ‘out-of-pocket’ expenses.
For the organisation it is important to factor in the costs associated with recruiting, training, supporting, coordinating and monitoring volunteers. Sometimes the sheer scale of the expressions of interest from potential volunteers can be overwhelming for a small or already stretched organisation. It is important that an organisation invests time into getting to know the volunteers, their skills, experiences and expectations.
In addition to time spent recruiting, training and co-ordinating the volunteers, there may also be additional demands on teachers (or other professional, front-line staff), who will need to communicate with volunteers outside of class time (or activity time).
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“Sometimes I join the mother at an appointment at the jobcenter, go with her to a parents’ evening at school or to visit the doctor. If there are no appointments we learn German, play games or take a walk in the park, go for an ice-cream or scout the neighbourhood […] To sum up I advise everybody who is interested to get involved and become an Integrationslotse (guide). Be open to new situations and experiences.”