Whether you’re bilingual or speak only English, you can use your words to help others. Fluency in more than one language can unlock volunteer opportunities that help bridge language barriers and foster understanding between people who communicate differently. Nonprofits may need bilingual volunteers to reach new audiences and help people who speak different languages connect and make a positive difference. Here are some ways you can put your language skills to work for others.
Organizations like Translators Without Borders, Respond Crisis Translation, and Charity Translators offer volunteer translators and translation services to nonprofits, relief organizations, and other charities. Some organizations like the International Rescue Committee and RMIAN seek volunteer translators to help with asylum-seekers and immigrants who may need a translator to access the assistance and services they need. Local nonprofits may need help translating their communication materials, website, or other resources to reach more people in the community who may not speak English. And many organizations need people fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) to translate speeches and other events.
Your language skills can help libraries and community centers host bilingual events ranging from reading children’s stories to multilingual events celebrating linguistic and cultural diversity. Tutoria is a free, all-volunteer online platform that matches volunteer tutors with people who need help learning various languages. Or contact your local school district to see if students who speak English as a second language (ESL) in your community may need a little extra help, too. (Volunteers may be required to go through training and/or a background check.)
Language exchange programs allow people from different cultures and backgrounds to learn a new language—or simply brush up on a language to become more fluent. Programs like Dream Volunteers and International Language Programs are two examples. Depending on the opportunity, you will find a range of language opportunities, as well as remote, in-person, and travel opportunities. Programs are typically structured so that you’ll meet regularly with your protégé over a specific period, so you might even make a new friend.
By embracing their language skills, volunteers can profoundly change lives and help create a world where language becomes a bridge rather than a barrier. Search for more opportunities to use your language skills at www.createthegood.org.