A large group of students posing for a picture.

Why volunteer?

Volunteering changes lives. As a volunteer at ILI, you extend a welcoming hand to those navigating new cultures and languages. By providing support, you empower individuals to overcome challenges, fostering a sense of belonging. Your efforts bridge gaps, promote inclusivity, and contribute to the building of stronger, more resilient communities.

Volunteering opportunities at ILI – how it works

Here at ILI, you have the option to be a volunteer English tutor to support international or domestic students whose first language is not English. Or you can volunteer your technical skills to help the growth of our organization!

Volunteer English tutors work one-on-one with a student and play an important role in supporting immigrant and refugee students living in the Northampton, Massachusetts area. Volunteers assist with all aspects of language education, depending on the student’s goals, such as conversation practice, writing help, and cultural questions. Volunteers also help students learn more about the area in which we live. Volunteer tutors and students have the option to meet in-person or remotely. We also have skills-based volunteer opportunities for folks with backgrounds in digital marketing, grant writing, and other technical skills.

To inquire about volunteering at ILI, please contact the Volunteer Coordinator, Jeanne Barron (jeanne@ili.edu).

Benefits of Volunteering at ILI:

  • Make new friends
  • Gain teaching experience
  • Learn about other cultures
  • Contribute to your community
  • Make a positive difference in people’s lives

Can I be a Volunteer Tutor?

Does the idea of teaching a student the ins and outs of life in our community while helping to improve their English sound inviting to you? Do you enjoy meeting new people and discussing life? Is explaining a bit about the culture of the United States as you see it something that you’d be interested in?

If so, ILI’s Volunteer Tutor Program might be for you. Here at ILI, we are always looking for folks who are interested in introducing our students to the amazing community that we are all a part of.

These are a few of the qualifications we look for:

  • Ability to speak, read, and write in English fluently
  • Cultural sensitivity and openness to different values/beliefs
  • Patience and willingness to provide encouragement

What is the time commitment?

At ILI, Volunteer Tutors usually meet once a week online or in-person for 45-90 minutes. This commitment is required for at least a four-month period, ensuring consistent support and progress for learners.

Who are ILI’s students?

The Volunteer Tutor program has been proudly matching our English learners with community members since 1990. Because students come from a wide variety of countries in South America, Asia, Europe and Africa, the opportunities for cultural exchanges and learning are boundless. Students range from young adults to seniors with all sorts of different backgrounds, education and work experience. This diversity allows us to create matches between students and tutors that can lead to lasting positive memories and meaningful moments together.

Will I get training and support?

Absolutely. As a new volunteer, you meet the Volunteer Tutor Coordinator, receive training, observe an ILI class to see student-centered teaching in action and complete a reflection form. No teaching experience? No problem! Your desire to connect with students in a meaningful way is the most important factor in becoming a great tutor. Since all tutoring is done in English, all you need to bring to the table is your ability to speak, read and write fluently in English and an openness to different values and beliefs.  

Once onboarded, tutors are invited to attend monthly volunteer meetings. These meetings connect you with other volunteers, provide instructional materials, and suggest activities to grow your tutoring skills.  ILI volunteers also receive a monthly newsletter, invitations to free professional development opportunities, and have access to an online bank of tutoring resources.  

“David has become a dear friend to me these last two years. I joined ILI as a tutor because I come from a family of English language learners and often played the role of “English tutor” for my grandparents when I was a child. I am so grateful that ILI exists for students like David and am even more grateful to have been a part of it- it has brought me closer to the memory of my grandparents who passed away some years ago.”


Got a Question?

See if our frequently asked questions answer what’s on your mind…

Selected FAQs

Tutors work with students in a one-on-one environment and can choose to meet at ILI, out and about in the community, or online. As a tutor, you may find yourself acting as a mentor and helping your student practice daily survival skills, while supporting their adjustment to their new culture. You may answer questions that a student has about English skills, a class they are taking, or life in the US. Every student is different with different goals, but in general, you can expect to practice speaking, listening, conversation, reading and writing with your student. If you ever need further inspiration, the Volunteer Coordinator is happy to give you some ideas of what to work on depending on the student’s needs and goals.

Generally tutors meet once a week for about an hour with one student. Some tutors meet twice a week, some meet for an hour and a half, others meet for 45 minutes. It all depends on the tutors’ and students’ availability. Tutors spend an average of half an hour planning for an hour-long meeting. Ideally, tutors make a 4 month commitment. Many end up staying for longer!

It depends! Every learner has different goals and interests. Tutors are encouraged to spend time during the first session getting to know the learner better. Some students want to simply practice having conversation with an English speaker. Other students have more specific goals such as wanting to improve pronunciation, practice grammar, study for citizenship, talk about preparing for the driving test.

There is not a specific curriculum for tutors to follow. The volunteer coordinator can help with facilitation to materials and can offer suggestions, but tutors are responsible for planning how they will spend their time in a tutoring session.

Absolutely, yes! The volunteer tutor team is made up of people from all kinds of backgrounds. The most important characteristics of a volunteer tutor are an interest in helping others, a desire to learn about other cultures and share information about yours, the ability to listen, and patience. A sense of humor helps, too!

Many tutoring pairs meet online using Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams. Some tutors meet in a classroom at ILI, while others meet in a public space like a library or coffee shop.

As a volunteer tutor for ILI Northampton, you will receive monthly newsletters and have access to an online volunteer resource library. You are are also invited to attend bimonthly meetings. Our volunteer coordinator is also there to support you and is available to help with resources and general tutoring questions you may have.

What to do next

  1. Decide if you want to be a Volunteer Tutor or Skill-based Volunteer
  2. Meet online or in-person with the Volunteer Tutor Coordinator
  3. Read the Volunteer Tutor Resource Manual (provided after initial meeting with the coordinator)
  4. Observe an ESOL class online or in-person
  5. Complete a Reflection Form 

Advice on Volunteering From our Blog

The ILI Promise

At ILI, we believe that all our actions should stem from grace and loving kindness.

Portrait of Caroline Gear - Executive Director
  • We operate as an equal opportunity organization.
  • We nurture relationships beyond the classroom.
  • We are committed to providing the highest quality language instruction and teacher training.
  • We promote intercultural understanding and celebrate the diversity in our local communities.
  • We work collaboratively to build and sustain the communities we serve.
  • We believe in life-changing teaching and learning.