Develop your self-reliance through language mentoring at home
“We clicked right away”, the ABC-volunteer Mariëlle says enthusiastically. Farida agrees laughingly. She is an intelligent woman, who wants to learn Dutch. In Morocco, she only completed primary education. She doesn’t know many people in the Netherlands. All her family live in Morocco. Through the Amsterdam Buurvrouwen Contact, (ABC brings women from different ethnicities and backgrounds together in a secure and friendly environment, she has found a language mentor who teaches her Dutch at home.
Farida must integrate. She came to the Netherlands a year ago with her three children. Her husband had been living in the Netherlands for a long time. Farida did not know anyone when she arrived. When she first attended Dutch group lessons, she did not dare to speak. She suffered from panic attacks. Now that she gets language lessons at home, personal attention helps her to learn more effectively.
As a language mentor at the ABC you don’t only teach the language, Mariëlle explains. Every tenth lesson includes an outdoor activity when we either visit the neighborhood together, go to the library or a community center. Farida knows now where she can go if she needs further education.
A language mentor should know what goals one is setting for themselves, Mariëlle explains. Individual motivation helps people to deal with the difficulties they encounter in the process of learning a new language. After all, Dutch is a difficult language to learn. It is very fulfilling to help Farida achieve her goal. And if she feels good, I am feeling good as well. My work is done. Self-reliance, that’s what it’s all about.
“My children speak Dutch very well,” Farida tells me proudly. “I want to be able to read to them in Dutch. Or help them with their homework. My dream is to work in the care sector. To achieve that, I need to take a course. Then I will have to learn even more!” she says laughingly.
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“I registered with the ABC, because they enable you to come to mentee’s house,” Mariëlle says. “And that is very special. We don’t live in the same neighborhood, Mariëlle says, “so we are not really neighbours.” Farida lives in Amsterdam North and I live in Amsterdam South, but with the North-South line I am there in no time at all.”
I have an administrative job and voluntary work beside it. It makes a lot of sense to do it. It is also an enrichment to know Farida. We learn so much from each other! The other day she said something in Dutch, which I could not quite understand. It turned out to be a literal translation of a beautiful proverb in her mother tongue. I am getting to know another culture and the wisdom Farida possesses! Yes, I am very happy with Farida.”
“And I am very happy with you!” Farida concludes.
Special target group: women
The ABC is there for a special target group: socially isolated women, who benefit from individual language mentoring at home. Farida had no network when she came to Amsterdam and was housebound because of her children. In addition, she struggled with her fear of failure. Now, after a year of mentoring, she will soon be able to take the civic integration exam.
Would you like to have a language mentor just like Mariëlle? Find an organization and get in touch. You will find The Amsterdams Buurvrouwen Contact among them.
(Photo: Liesbeth Dingemans)
10 November 2020