That welcoming smile can really make the difference. Most of the time though, old timers would stick together and form an impenatrable ring around them, laughing and winking at private jokes. So much so that newcomers find it hard to join in. I guess thats the nature of things since part of the reason some of us go to aikido is to meet up with friends.
Anyway, my old dojo used to have the familiar pub sessions after class. Sensei never joins though, so its strictly a student privilege.
They also handed out guides for the basic moves and terminilogy of aikido. I guess part of the difficulty in learning aikido is understanding the japanese terms that comes hand in hand with it. There was also a guide for the 6th kyu grading and what was expected of the beginner. I think these guides made aikido very accessible to a newcomer.
Unfortunately though, our present dojo is not very big. So seperating the class is not really doable. Beginners learn right next to seniors. The pace of change of techniques is quite fast so information overload exists for the first several months... perhaps more. Us seniors would be more than willing to help the beginners after class, but the problem is, these beginners are the first to scoot off after class. I've noticed though that there are some new comers who do make the effort to join in with the old crowd; practising with them after class and hanging around for the after class coffee. These same newcomers progress much faster.