Story by Myrna and Don Silverberg

ESRA is proud of its ETP (English Tutoring Program) that assists students of all ages to improve their English. This year ESRA enrolled over 20 new tutors from the Sharon area and we warmly welcome them.

Different teaching methods are being used in different schools according to their specific needs. Let us introduce to you one of them in our Netanya branch, which we call English Without Borders.

ESRA in Netanya has been running an English tutoring program for Israeli students in Netanya schools together with AACI for 11 years and it is one of the largest programs of its kind in the country.  Last year 50 volunteers tutored about 300 students from grades 4 to 12. Each tutoring session is for two hours once a week.

Tutoring in English has been shown to be invaluable in improving the students’ spoken English, which will give them a greater chance in life since command of English is a key ability in the modern world.

What does the volunteer have to do?

You have to get the students to speak in English. There are a thousand ways to do this. Some know songs in English but don’t know what they mean. This can be discussed.

Everyone has been on a holiday and can discuss this. Everyone has hobbies and they can discuss this. Some have been given projects to do in English and you can help them with this. Getting them to discuss their families – their background, their aliyah and what their parents and siblings do can be interesting.

What are their dreams for the future?

They can be taught songs. They all watch TV and see movies and can describe them. Your advisors can also provide you with interesting articles for them to read. 

The students are often interested in the background of the volunteer and the more open and relaxed the volunteer is the better will be the relationship.  Being of the age of their grandparents, you are non-judgmental and are not testing or grading them (what fun for both you and them!)

What does a volunteer get out of it?

This clearly depends on several factors: your personality and those of the students.  Undoubtedly giving them positive feedback will reduce their insecurity (and yours) and help all of you become more open.  

The sessions give you an awesome insight into the world of a generation of kids who seem to come from outer space, with their Whatsapps, SMS texts, sexually mature attitudes, and strange music.

But you also come from outer space in their eyes and you can share your experiences and wisdom and adventures with them as well, which you will find they often enjoy. They will also admire you because you are doing this for free – What are you – a sucker (frier) doing this for nothing!  In the material world we live in this puts you in the category of…unheard of.

You will be surprised how some have learned so much English from all the sources mentioned above.  But this is very variable and some will know a lot less than others.

As the song goes: “Anoo banoo artza” (We came to Israel like all pioneers did in the past), “Leevnot ooLiheebanot  ba” (to build and be built).  Both of these principles have helped build the State and this teaching effort is no exception. Believe us, you are sorely needed.

Myrna Silverberg is the ESRA Netanya coordinator for ETP – the English Tutoring Program and Don Silverberg is a volunteer at junior high school in Netanya. 

To become a volunteer tutor of English contact Shelley Sharon, ESRA Volunteer Coordinator, 09 950 8371 shelleys@esra.org.il

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Donald Silverberg

Donald Silverberg was born in Winnipeg Canada in 1937. He graduated Medicine (University of Manitoba) 1962. His postgraduate studies in Internal Medic...
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