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AUS volunteers offer IELTS exam preparation training to underprivileged students
Community engagement and volunteerism at American University of Sharjah (AUS) are foundational to the university student experience, offering opportunities to broaden students’ networks, strengthen their ties with the community and engage them in activities that enhance economic, social and cultural well-being. In a recent initiative, a group of AUS students offered IELTS exam preparation training to 32 student learners sponsored by the Sharjah Social Empowerment Foundation, allowing the AUS volunteers to employ their knowledge and resources to address the needs of an important segment of society.
Held in collaboration with the Community Service and Outreach division at AUS, the training prepared underprivileged high school and university students to take the IELTS English proficiency exam by developing their writing, listening and reading skills; and teaching them the most effective test-solving strategies to achieve best results.
“Over the course of three weeks, we covered the most important parts of the IELTS exam and gave students tips on how to approach its different sections. We also made sure to give students exam samples based on the sections we covered to measure their development. We used the IELTS marking system to correct the samples so they could see the band they fell under,” said Bhavika Vohra, an accounting student and serial volunteer with the AUS Community Service and Outreach.
Having taken the IELTS and TOEFL tests before, the student learners knew their strengths and weaknesses, which helped the AUS volunteers know what to focus on during the training.
“Students were divided into two groups, one with a good background in English and a second that was less so. We coached the first group by sharing our expertise in the exam, testing their skills then providing individual assistantships based on their performance. We coached the second group from the beginning. We taught them how to construct a simple sentence, conjugate verbs in simple tenses and how to use some common vocabulary,” said Hadj Babouhoun Kerrouchi, a mechanical engineering and mathematics student and active student volunteer.
In preparation for the training, the student volunteers went through countless study materials themselves and used IELTS teaching guides. They also drew upon their own experiences as IELTS test takers.
Finance student and volunteer Jovita Mariam Cherian joined the program as a way to give back to the community.
“I am blessed to be studying in an amazing university like AUS, with its diverse resources. I felt it was my responsibility to help in this training. The student learners were also happy at the end of the coaching. They became more confident, and we could see them improve throughout the sessions. I also learned a lot about myself, and the patience needed for teaching. It is a very memorable experience!”
Vohra also noted: “This experience showed me the amount of effort that goes into teaching students a completely new topic. Every time a student was able to answer a question or do well on a test, I felt great happiness. Teaching a class of more than 30 students also helped me develop my self-confidence and public speaking skills. The training also led us to making some new friends. The eagerness of the students to learn something new inspired me and taught me that with hard work and determination,you can achieve anything you put my mind to. I am really thankful to the AUS Community Service and Outreach for providing us with this opportunity to give back to the community.”
AUS has built strong partnerships with many national and international organizations offering students diverse and unlimited volunteering experiences. Community service and volunteerism are entrenched in AUS’ institutional values, among which are offering a transformative experience that prepares students to become outward-looking and responsible individuals ready to join the world, and offering opportunities for active engagement that contributes to the development of society.
For more information on AUS Community Service and Outreach, visit www.aus.edu/life-at-aus/student-life/community-involvement/community-out....