Susan Cakmak: The Joys of Being an EAL Tutor Volunteer

An ISANS Impact Story

As a volunteer tutor at ISANS, Susan Cakmak has taught nearly 100 people. And through the connections she’s made with students, her world has expanded greatly.        

English as an Additional Language (EAL) programming is a cornerstone of ISANS’ services, as being unable to communicate effectively in English is a barrier many of our clients face when they first arrive in Nova Scotia.

One way we are able to deliver EAL programming is through our Volunteer Tutor Program.

Susan has been an EAL volunteer tutor with ISANS for over 10 years. While she has an English as a Second Language certificate and a background in social work, she doesn’t have any formal teaching experience. ISANS welcomes anyone who can speak English fluently as a first language or an additional language in Nova Scotia to volunteer for the program.

“I am not, like, this great teacher. But I use all different parts of myself and my experience,” Susan says. “I’ve learned to pick up on the nuances of students’ learning needs.”

Many of our EAL volunteers don’t have teaching backgrounds, and even for those who do, ISANS provides support through teaching materials, resources, and training sessions.

When Susan meets with her clients, she says many of them primarily want to practice conversation. This style of teaching has allowed Susan to get to know, and learn from, people she might never have had a chance to meet.

“I am learning so much every day,” she says. “You learn new things, including small things that you wouldn’t even think of.”

Susan has learned about different countries, cultures, and traditions, as well as about her client’s interests and careers. She has had clients who love home repair, gardening, and graphic design. Some clients she still keeps in touch with, even after the tutoring has finished.

“For me, it is a win-win situation. I get so much out of it, and I feel I can be supportive of the people I tutor. It is extremely rewarding,” says Susan.

Tutors spend anywhere from three months to a year with each person they tutor, for a couple of hours each week. Volunteers can offer the tutorials in person, online, or both through blended delivery.

To volunteer with ISANS as EAL Volunteer Tutor, email us at To learn more about this volunteering opportunity, check the volunteer tutor page on our website.

“You learn new things, including small things that you wouldn't even think of.”

Susan Cakmak: The Joys of Being an EAL Tutor Volunteer