Pandemic Volunteering: English B’Yachad Online English FAQ’s

Frequently Asked Questions

How has the new coronavirus affected experiences offered by Skilled Volunteers in Israel?

Skilled Volunteers in Israel was founded in 2011, and in recent years has placed 30-40 professionals and retirees annually in meaningful volunteer placements in Israel. Prior to the start of Israel’s national COVID-19 quarantine in March 2020, we suspended all in-person volunteer placements in Israel to protect participants’ safety.

We pivoted soon after to launch a new safe-at-home volunteer program, English B’Yachad (English Together) to provide virtual English language tutoring to young adults who need this skill to launch their careers. As of mid-2020, we’re recruiting 75+ volunteers. Our program is growing quickly to meet growing demand for online, individualized English language tutoring via Zoom. This volunteer experience provides a meaningful way to virtually experience Israel and help Israelis from the comfort of your home.

Who receives English language tutoring through English B’Yachad, and how does this help them?

Our volunteer tutors help young adults, mostly Ethiopian Israelis, who seek to improve their English to support their professional and economic advancement. English language proficiency is needed in many professional domains.  Many of our students are not able to afford or access to English tutors who live in Israel.

We currently seek English tutors to work with young professionals who work in a variety of fields young adults entering high tech careers. Building on our longstanding partnerships throughout Israeli nonprofit sector, we’re recruiting English language tutors. We especially seek to meet demand for tutoring among staff, students and alumni who are part of a technology training and professional placement program in Lod, Israel, that helps post-army Ethiopian Israelis from all over Israel pursue high-tech careers.

How well do my skills and background match this volunteer opportunity?

While prior tutoring or teaching experience is not required, you should feel confident and comfortable taking the lead in discussions, and be willing to prepare for each tutoring sessions. Currently working and retired teachers are ideal for this role as are professionals with specialized skills in areas such as high tech, financial services and people with scientific, medical and engineering backgrounds.

Students and tutors are interviewed to match individuals based on language abilities, student goals, tutoring experience and professional background.

Do I need to have a technical background in high tech to be an effective tutor?

Although many of the students seeking English tutoring are studying or in the high tech field, tutors do not need to have a high tech background.  The focus of the need is focused on conversational English, and improving writing skills.

Do I need to speak Hebrew to tutor?

It’s helpful to know some Hebrew, but not necessary. Whenever possible, our program coordinator matches volunteer tutors with students whose careers are aligned, and pairs up students who have the weakest English with volunteers with strong Hebrew language skills. Many of our tutors live in the U.S. and Canada, and in Israel itself. We welcome participation from tutors who live anywhere in the world!

What is the time commitment and experience like?

We ask volunteers to commit to initially providing 10 tutoring sessions (typically 30-40 minutes long). With preparation time and follow up emails, the per-student commitment is approximately two to 2.5 hours weekly. Sessions typically occur in the morning or early afternoon in North America because the time zone for students in Israel is 7 to 10 hours later.

Tutors should be comfortable working on Zoom, the recommended platform. Students and tutors set goals for sessions and schedule sessions directly with each other.

You’re welcome to continue tutoring beyond 10 sessions though we ask you to please let our program coordinator know. Many of our pilot program participants continue to work with their tutors.

 

Do you offer training and support to tutors?

We will offer Zoom Train the Trainer sessions which will be recorded.  When you sign up to tutor we will let you know when the next training is scheduled or provide you a link to a recorded training.  

We will also share sample topics and structures to help tutors think about how to plan their sessions. 

We will also share sample topics and structures to help tutors think about how to plan their sessions.  This program is not built upon a set curriculum as tutoring session content is customized to each student’s needs and goals.

 

What are some of the benefits of English B’Yachad for students and tutors?

Tutoring changes the lives of students and tutors alike. Students seek greater English proficiency to help them advance into higher-level careers, and establish supportive relationships with mentors whom they might not otherwise be able to afford or access.

Volunteering with English B’Yachad gives you a way to help a new, emerging generation of professionals in Israeli society. Tutors experience the satisfaction of providing meaningful assistance and forming new personal connections with Israelis. This is your chance to connect with Israel even when you can’t go there in person and an opportunity to do something life-changing from the safety of your home. Who knows: the relationships you form via virtual tutoring may someday lead to an in-person visit once travel to Israel becomes possible again.

Is there a fee for this program?

We currently offer this program free of charge thanks to support from our board and supporters.  However, we hope participating tutors will feel moved to contribute to support expansion of this program. Health risks related to COVID-19 may be with us for a while. So English B’Yachad may become an important way for Skilled Volunteers in Israel to support positive experiences (beyond tourism) in Israel. Our board and advisory committee are considering a new financial model for this program that may in future request a modest donation to support the program.

If I would like to volunteer or have additional questions, who should I contact?

If you’re interested, and would like to explore whether your skills match this volunteer opportunity, complete this inquiry form or contact either Dr. Minna Wolf, Program Coordinator,  at minnawolf@gmail.com or Marla Gamoran, Executive Director for Skilled Volunteers for Israel at mgamoran@skillvolunteerisrael.org

If you have other questions or would like to explore philanthropic opportunities to support this program, contact Marla Gamoran at mgamoran@skillvolunteerisrael.org

To the head of Skilled Volunteers for Israel, Shalom. My name is [student 2] and I met Minna Wolf three weeks ago. Minna connected me to my tutor, Queenie, in order to help me improve my English language skills.  Queenie and I arranged to meet via zoom twice a week. Queenie prepares an organized lesson and we converse, read and learn, a private lesson that is relevant and to the point.  After each lesson, Queenie sends me a detailed summary of the lesson and is always willing to help.  She is a special person, invests in the lesson and is very generous.  Thank you very much for everything. 

 



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