Undergraduate Spotlight

Undergraduate spotlight: Nawaal Abdul-Khaliq recognized as the SFU Linguistics Volunteer of the Year

April 15, 2024

Congratulations to Nawaal Abdul-Khaliq for being recognized as the SFU Linguistics Volunteer of the Year 2024, in celebration of Canadian National Volunteer Week. She is graduating after the Spring term with a Bachelor of Arts (Major in English; Extended Minor in Linguistics), a Certificate in Writing and Rhetoric, and a Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (CESL).

Nawaal recently shared her perspective on volunteerism with Linguistics Communications: “Being a humanitarian is rooted in ethical principles which allow us to practice pluralism in our diverse environments. Building bridges between cultures and communities has been an integral part of my journey.”

For the past three and a half years, Nawaal has been volunteering with Time and Knowledge Nazrana (TKN). TKN created the non-profit program English Language Connections (ELC). ELC is a virtual and in-person English language learning program which uses the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). This volunteer program, though piloted in Afghanistan in 2020, has expanded to countries such as Iran, India, Syria, Turkey, East Asia, and Eastern Europe. ECL uses the teaching platform Off2Class. Nawaal has been volunteering with the program since the pilot in Afghanistan, where she volunteered as a teaching assistant for a class of adult learners. The program began with only eight teachers and eight teaching assistants.

During the 2021–2022 school year, Nawaal volunteered as an educator in Iran for a class of secondary students, working alongside a co-educator. In 2023, she volunteered as an IELTS educator for adult learners in India and Syria. During the 2023–2024 academic year, she is volunteering as an educator for a class of adult learners in Afghanistan. Her volunteering activities include class instruction, staff meetings, lesson planning, grading, and professional development workshops.

Additionally, from 2021 to 2023 Nawaal volunteered in the English Language Learners (ELL)  department of Burnaby Mountain Secondary School. Many of Burnaby Mountain’s students are international students, through exchange programs or as new immigrants. Nawaal has offered support as a TA and with administrative aspects of the program. Her responsibilities included arranging lesson materials, facilitating class and small group discussions, assisting with individual learner needs, using formative and summative assessment techniques under supervision, proctoring the year-end ELL Assessment, and assisting with fieldtrips.

In Spring of 2023, Nawaal completed the SFU Linguistics CESL course Practicum in Teaching English as a Second Language to Adults (LING 363). Using this credential, she now volunteers for Douglas College’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada program (LINC). The LINC program is an immigrant settlement service provided through the National Settlement Program, funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The program is free to eligible participants. Nawaal is currently an on-call educator for this program.

Currently, Nawaal is also volunteering at Burnaby Lake Jamatkhana as an Academic Lead for weekly English Language Conversation classes, offered to newly arrived immigrants from Central Asia and India. These conversation circles occur Sunday evenings and focus on speaking and comprehension skills for everyday communication.

Regarding her overall experience as a volunteer thus far, Nawaal shares: “These experiences have not only shaped me as an educator, but have also made me re-examine my potential to make a difference in people’s lives.” Nawaal encourages the practise of humanitarian values such as kindness, respect, generosity of time and resources, and empathy. Nawaal’s volunteerism and generosity of spirit are inspiring to all of us at SFU Linguistics. 

Are you interested in teaching English as a second language? Consider applying to the Certificate in Teaching ESL Linguistics (CESL) program. 

Would you like to become a volunteer? Check out the Volunteer Canada website for more info.