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Volunteer Spotlight

Eva Gao

Eva completed training to be a volunteer ESL tutor in December 2018. As soon as she was ready, she jumped right in to begin her first High Beginner ESL class in the spring 2019 semester. Throughout the spring semester, her group maintained high attendance and all students showed progress after completing their CASAS post-test.

Before her spring class even finished, Eva signed up to bridge to the summer semester with a short-term American Customs conversation class. She’s currently meeting with that class twice each week, even absorbing additional students to the group when another tutor had a family emergency and wasn’t able to continue.

She’s kept the group engaged by emphasizing lots of conversation and multisensory activities. She regularly integrates technology into the classroom by using YouTube videos as a source of comprehension activities.

Thus far, Eva has completed more than 50 hours of classroom instruction (plus significant extra time in prep!) and will continue on with additional beginner level classes in the summer semester.

What first brought you to the Literacy Advance program at MAM?

I initially found MAM when I was looking for a change after working 8 years as an attorney. My career was no longer fulfilling, and I wanted to be in an environment where I can make a positive difference in the community.

You’ve recently completed your first regular ESL class! What do you know now that you wish you knew before your first class?

Before starting my first class, my biggest fear was that the students might not enjoy my class. I now realize that as long as I'm being patient, encouraging, and supportive, and fill my class with interesting topics that are applicable to their daily lives, the students will come to class eager to learn!

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

I love seeing my students gain confidence in their English abilities. At the beginning of the semester, many of the students were quiet and reserved. As time went on, they became more willing to interact with their fellow students and myself, and participate in class activities and discussions. Seeing the growth in my students is incredibly rewarding.

Are there any specific tutoring strategies or techniques that work well in your beginner level classes? What are your favorite activities to use in the classroom?

My students really enjoyed topics that are relevant to their daily living. We used picture dictionaries to introduce vocabulary words in subjects such as occupation, emotions, and family relations. We practiced situations that the students might face in their everyday lives, such as getting directions and going to restaurants. We also worked on their listening comprehension skills by watching and discussing short videos of real-life scenarios.

What do you do in your free time, when you’re not volunteering?

When I’m not tutoring at MAM Literacy Advance, I enjoy painting, exercising, and traveling. My husband and I have visited Japan, Spain, China, Greece, Italy, Germany, Kenya, and Rwanda, and we will be going to Australia and New Zealand in October!



Don't forget our previous spotlights!

Find the 2018 archive here.

Find the 2017 archive here.

Find the 2016 archive here.

Find the 2015 archive here.

Find the 2014 archive here.

Find the 2013 archive here.

Find the 2012 archive here.

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