Does volunteering undermine professional language teaching?
The mention of ‘volunteers’ amongst teachers can cause concern for those working in countries, like the UK, where paid professional language teaching are losing jobs and funding and sometimes being replaced by volunteer provision. That is why, this toolkit focuses explicitly on the work of paid teachers alongside volunteers.
However, we know from our research that many unpaid volunteers across Europe are organising classes for refugees and often acting as teachers where no funding or paid teachers are available. Often these volunteerrun classes are the only provision that refugees have access to. Volunteer groups are also doing innovative work around informal language provision. We want to celebrate the generosity of the volunteers acting in this way.
At the same time, we also want to make the case in this toolkit for the importance of properly paid and trained language teachers. Professional teachers can offer a level of expertise and consistency that only the most dedicated and financially independent volunteers can match. They’re therefore vital to supporting refugees to learn language and participate fully in the new communities in which they find themselves.
"If I do something wrong, I have confidence in the teacher to tell me how I should do things differently. That confidence and trust is important to make the corporation work."