We recently interviewed volunteer Kim Wolfson, who is leading a conversation class for upper-level English learners at ILI. Here’s what we learned:

How long have you been working at ILI?

I designed an English conversation course in June, 2019 — for students at all proficiency levels.

a group of people sitting around a table
Kim (top left) with students in her conversation class.

Now I teach higher-level students in my “Advanced English Conversation Circle.”

Why did you decide to volunteer?

My TESOL certification course at ILI with Karine and Daniel was brilliant. It was creative, comprehensive, well-thought-out, engaging and fun. I especially appreciated the ILI philosophy that students should have fun while they learn. I wanted to offer something to ILI in return. After teaching ESOL at the college level for about eight years, I created my ILI course.

Tell us about your work at ILI.

To give my students practice in speaking and listening skills, I develop a fun lesson plan for each class, tailored to students’ needs and requests. I have a practical focus — on conversation skills that students will need in a variety of settings.

 Here are a few examples of learning activities in my class:

  • Intercultural Exchange (for example, “Describe a fun activity in your home culture that isn’t available here.”)
  • Role play (interview for a job, ask for information on government benefits, talk with your supervisor about problems at work)
  • Theater improvisation
  • NPR StoryCorps video and discussion
  • One-minute mystery
  • Teapot game (asking questions to guess the activity someone is thinking of)
  • Article on a current topic (such as MLK — the week of his birthday) and discussion
  • Interview with a Star (One student plays a star in any field. Others play journalists and interview the star.)

During our conversations, I correct students’ pronunciation and grammar on the spot — with their permission. (So far, every student has asked that I do this.) I incorporate into each of my lessons some challenging vocabulary words and expressions. I also created an “Optional Homework” Google Doc with resources and exercises for learning idioms, grammar, pronunciation, numbers, specialized vocabulary, and more.

What do you enjoy about teaching at ILI?

My students! They’re delightful people — warm, clever and funny. They all seem highly motivated to learn and happy to contribute to their classmates’ learning. My students seem to appreciate the help I offer, and I know that our class activities will be useful in their everyday lives.