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Volunteer Materials

How to get started in Bye Bye Anxiety.

Not sure how to start your first session? Check out the Volunteer Materials to prepare for your first session with your buddy.

Welcome New Volunteers!

Check this video out!

If you have been accepted into the program, please watch the video below. The video will cover everything you need to know to prepare for your first session, give you tips and advice, clarify mentor expectations and demonstrate the volunteer materials available to you on this website. We will reach out to you in a few days with your buddy's contact number, so please contact them back to schedule your first session.

Once again, we are very excited for you to be joining BBA's team. We hope you enjoy your time with us!


  1. Attend your weekly sessions. If you need to cancel a meeting, please let your buddy know at least 24 hours in advance. If possible, reschedule the meeting with other times that work for you. Make adequate preparations for your sessions so that it is productive and helpful for your buddy.

  2. Communication is key! If you have a concern about scheduling or simply don't know how to plan your next meeting, reach out to your buddy. Chances are, they have many ideas for future meetings and what they want to discuss.

  3. Don't be rude!

  4. Do not share your buddy's contact information, messages, or other details without their permission. Please respect their privacy!

  5. Please stay in contact with us, so we can make sure you have the best experience as possible. We will reach out occasionally to make sure everything is going well.

  6. Please let us know if you need to leave the program. Do not suddenly disappear!

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First Meet

Contacting Your Buddy

Volunteers are responsible for making first contact with their buddy once receiving their contact information from us. There are 3 things you should cover when reaching out:

  1. The days and times you will meet every week. Will you meet 1x for 60 minutes a week, or 2x for 30 minutes a week?

Make sure to check your timezones!

  1. Method of communication - both the video-calling platform and day-to-day messaging

  2. Share a little about yourself beyond what was provided in the Google Forms. This will hopefully reduce any fears they have about talking to a stranger!

View the template provided for an example of a first contact. Note it is in email format, so adjust accordingly to platform.

Your First Meeting

Take some time to prepare for your first meeting. There are 2 goals of the first meeting:

  1. Get to know your buddy! Find similar interests, hobbies, and topics that can be the launching off point of future discussions.

  2. Understand their goals in learning English. Do they want better job opportunities? Travel? Go to university abroad? Or do they just want casual conversation? Plan future meetings accordingly.

Here are some questions to get you started. Be sure to also answer the questions yourself and encourage them to ask questions about you, so it doesn't feel like an interrogation! You should also use the information we gave you about your learner to come up with other question ideas.

Beyond the First

Keep it Interesting

Keeping your buddy's interests and goals in mind, decide how to conduct your future sessions. For your first couple meetings, you could continue asking them about their life and hobbies. Below is a link to some topic ideas and questions.

Activities to Do

Try out some of these games and activities as well! They can be used as icebreakers or as a break from regular conversation.

Overall, if in doubt, ask your buddy! They will likely have some ideas for future meetings and what they want to focus on.

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Using Outside Sources

What do we mean by "Session Materials"? Session materials could mean short articles or videos that discuss a topic you want to address in the meeting. They can be used as jumping off points for discussion. Videos should be less than 10 minutes, and articles less than 700 words (unless they specifically ask for longer ones). Challenge them, but make sure they are not too difficult for your learner. Duolingo's CEFR Checker may be useful to help figure this out.

Articles or videos shouldn't be used to necessarily teach them about a certain topic. They should be used so that they can formulate better answers during discussion about a certain topic. Be sure discussion questions are less about "facts" on the material, but more about how it connects to their own lives, world, and experiences.

Here is a sample of an ADVANCED meeting plan with materials and discussion questions. Note: You DO NOT have to plan something this thorough for your buddy. It is simply an example of how you could make questions based on outside sources for learners that want to be challenged.

Other Meeting Ideas

Here are other resources you could use with your buddy. There are outside resources that can be used as discussion material.

If your buddy needs more support, there is also a list for more formal lesson plans or activities that hone in on grammar and vocabulary skills for beginner and intermediate learners, though we recommend sticking to discussion and conversation skills.

You can also check out Breaking English News. This site publishes world news for ESL learners in 7 different levels. Every article incorporates new vocabulary with definitions listed at the bottom of the page.

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Formal Resources

While we emphasize the importance of speaking and fun conversation practice, we understand that some students wish for more formal instruction or need extra help.

These are formal textbooks on grammar and vocabulary if your buddy requests more structured lesson plans.

Ask your buddy to send pages of their English textbooks if they have some, or find other ones online.

Tracking Student Progress

About every 2 weeks, a great tip is to record 3-5 minutes of your meeting with your buddy. Remember to ask their permission before recording and let them know when you stop. It can be video or audio recordings. After 2-3 months, compile the recordings and send it to them to show their progress in English.

If you have a motivated student who is very keen on improving their English speaking skills, you can ask them to give a short 2-3 minute presentation on a certain topic. It does not need to be a written speech or accompanied by a powerpoint presentation if they don't want to - a few notes or bullet points will suffice. Make sure to inform them a few days before your meeting, so they have enough time to prepare.

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Here are more tips on beginner vs. advanced learners, correcting feedback, dealing with awkward silences, and cultural differences.

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Track & Verify Hours

If you need your hours verified by a member of the BBA team, please use the Volunteer Hour Tracking Sheet provided to track your hours every time you have a meeting with your buddy. This will need to be submitted along with your request form for a verification letter.

This sheet is required to verify volunteer hours. When you need a verification form, use the Verification/Certification Letter Request Form to request an E-certificate or verification letter.

Still having doubts about your sessions? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions or Contact us!

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