Gift of the gab: Hocking resident happy to travel to help others learn English


Ellen Levett volunteers by helping people learn how to speak English. Picture: Matt Jelonek d479550
Ellen Levett volunteers by helping people learn how to speak English. Picture: Matt Jelonek d479550

HOCKING resident Ellen Levett (89) loves helping people talk so much she travels to Carlisle twice a week to do so.

The volunteer helps people taking part in the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) at the South Metropolitan Tafe campus develop their English-speaking skills.

Mrs Levett said she had met people from many countries, including South Korea, Afghanistan and Pakistan, through the group chats, where volunteers help students practice what they learn from the AMEP teachers.

“I love it; I meet such beautiful people,” she said.

“I help migrants and refugees with their English.

“I’m helping the students understand English and to be able to converse in English.

“It’s very difficult for them to be able to just talk to somebody (so) that’s the role that we take.

“I can’t imagine what it must be like to love in a country and not be able to go shopping and talk to somebody.”

The great-grandmother spends about four hours a week helping the students, but it takes up far more of her time as she catches public transport.

“I leave home about 7.45am and get home about 2pm two days a week,” she said.

Mrs Levett, who will celebrate her 90th birthday in May, said she joined AMEP “many years ago” and had no plans to stop volunteering.

“I’m nearly 90 and I’m doing something – I’m not just sitting at home twiddling my thumbs,” she said.

“Most of the people that do this are just ordinary people – some have been teachers, but not many.

“They are tremendous people to work for; the teachers all deserve medals.”

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Her own career started in nursing, then she was a midwife and she said she had “absolutely loved” that profession as well.

Compassionate towards the students she meets, Mrs Levett said they were generally nice people.

“They have come from incredible backgrounds – some of the stories that I know break your heart,” she said.

“They want a better life, not just for themselves but for their children.”

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