Volunteers Helping Newcomers

Volunteer Tutors

English Language Tutoring for the Ottawa Community relies on the help of Volunteer Tutors to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) practical skills one-on-one to adult newcomers. 

Our tutors are anything but typical; they come from all social, professional, and academic backgrounds and most have no prior teaching experience. Some were once newcomers to Canada themselves. What they all have in common is the passion for helping others and assisting newcomers.

Tutoring sessions are held for 3 hours a week in the learner’s home and focus on the four basic language skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Our learners are housebound and cannot attend classes (e.g. caregivers, mothers, physically challenged, etc.). They are adult immigrants and refugees from all over the world and need help learning basic, everyday English and understanding Canadian culture.

Our experienced ESL Education Counsellors provide our Volunteer Tutors with the training, teaching materials, and on-going support they need. The ESL Education Counsellors also ensure that Volunteer Tutors are well-matched to their learners which is based on several factors such as gender, distance, availability, etc.

Skills Required

  • Fluency in English
  • Willingness to help newcomers improve their English skills
  • Open to working with people from different religious and cultural backgrounds

Time Commitment

  • 3 hours per week
  • Minimum 10-month commitment or longer

Apply to Become a Volunteer Tutor

  1. Volunteer Application
  2. Interview
    • You will initially be contacted by our Volunteer Coordinator by phone or email to invite you for a face-to-face interview.
    • Please note that all information collected will be held in the strictest confidence.
  3. Police Records Check
    • You will need to obtain a Police Records Check (PRC).
    • We will provide you with a letter that you need to submit along with your PRC application.
    • You can apply for your PRC either in person or online.
    • Please note that all information collected will be held in the strictest confidence.
  4. Orientation Session
    • You will be invited to participate in a group Orientation Session and you will be provided with an introduction to the methods and techniques of teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), as well as tips for working with adult learners.
    • In addition, workshops on specific topics are offered throughout the year.

If you have any questions or need help with the application process, please contact us by phone at 613-232-8566 or by email at [email protected] eltoc.ca.


Testimonial speech delivered at the 2019 AGM – Emer Cronin

Testimonial speech delivered at the 2018 AGM – Adele White  

“… For several years I have been a volunteer English teacher for the not-for-profit organization English Language Tutoring for the Ottawa Community. I tutor immigrant women who are housebound, and who would not otherwise have access to English language classes… Two of my students were housebound with newborn infants. Another was in a serious car accident and unable to walk for many months. My current student (a single mother) works such long hours to support her family that she cannot attend ESL classes. These women arrive in Canada very disoriented and unsure of themselves. ELTOC tutors provide mentorship and an introduction to Canadian culture, as well as English language skills. My four students had professional jobs in their countries of origin. They are intelligent and eager to learn. However, without individual tutoring in their home they are doomed to loneliness and isolation, without the opportunity to integrate into Canadian society…” – excerpt from a letter written by one of our tutors (January 11, 2011)

I was matched with a student who was afraid at first to leave her house on her own – reading street signs, speaking to strangers was very intimidating for her. However, over the year we worked together, she gained the confidence to interact with English speakers: whether shopping, taking the bus, dealing with medical people…. And isn’t this what is needed in our community – to help newcomers learn Canadian values, participate more fully in their new country and feel more at home here?” – Edwinna, ELTOC tutor

Initially, we had trouble communicating with each other. But by working on his listening, reading and pronunciation skills together – and with a lot of hard work on his part between lessons, my student was soon able to talk to his daughter’s teacher, approach the superintendent of his apartment building and apply for other jobs.” –  Peter, ELTOC tutor

I tutored a young woman in her early 20’s from Vietnam. She is visually impaired and was virtually confined to her apartment because of her limited vision. I worked to help her learn to interpret signs and street lights so that she would feel comfortable and safe crossing busy streets and taking the bus. She “graduated” from the ELTOC program after a year to attend a daily English class near her apartment (She had to cross Rideau St.). She subsequently enrolled in a more advanced class that required a bus ride. Being an ELTOC student definitely helped her increase her confidence, mobility and her integration into the community.” – Ann, ELTOC Tutor