This research arose from a need to understand the experience of Japanese Native Speaker Assistant volunteers (JNSAs) in Victorian country primary schools, so as to provide data on which all participants can draw in making improvements to the conduct and outcomes of future programs. The research questions are:
1. What is the experience?
2. How could it be made more valuable for all concerned?
The research is centred on four Japanese women who volunteered to work in country schools for varying lengths of stay - 6 weeks to 9 months. The schools vary in size from 20 students to over 700 students and the volunteers vary in age and experience. A qualitative research framework was adopted incorporating on-site observations, questionnaires and interviews. Outcomes show that all programs were successful but some were more successful than others. Factors facilitating success are the setting of obtainable goals, a planned and integrated program, positive support from the Principal, acceptance into an active role throughout the school, and contact with many people. Finally, and most critically, there is the need for an energetic and capable mentor whom the volunteer can depend on for guidance and friendship.