As our next tutor training workshop approaches, I am reflecting on the quick learning curve our volunteer tutors. Each one makes a huge difference in the life of an adult immigrant by teaching English and American culture. When the new volunteers first attend the tutor training workshop, they are often apprehensive and unsure whether they will be capable of the job. Most of our tutors are not teachers by career, and they wonder if they will be qualified to really help.
Every tutor really makes a difference. After they leave the 3-night training, they are armed with everything they need to begin tutoring. When they come to our office to meet their student, we spend an hour here introducing them and going over goals, books and lesson guidelines. They are ready!
Brand new tutors immediately boost their student’s confidence and share cultural information, simply by being willing to help. They are sharing the language they speak every day. And very quickly, tutors develop expertise, as evidenced in the monthly tutor updates sent to us.
One tutor, Sue, suggested to her intermediate level student to read a book that is just below her tested reading level, to practice comprehension. She found it improved her student’s confidence, showed her how much she already can read, and challenged her to tackle the next level. Just by spending time with the student, this tutor discovered an approach that worked.
Another tutor, Carol, discovered a great use for texting with her brand new student. Scheduling meetings with her beginning level student via email and phone had left them both frustrated and disheartened. Most of us resort immediately to these because of their expediency. However, the messages were too complicated for her student. Her simple text — “Meeting on Tuesday from 10 am to 11:30am. Yes or no?” — was easily understood by her student. Carol got her confirmation, and her student didn’t have to worry about tripping over her words on the phone or in an email.
Tutor Maggie realized her student was not putting the “s” on verbs that needed it, incorrectly saying “He walk.” and “She look pretty.” She focuses on this difficult-to-learn aspect of our language a little bit each meeting.
Each and every one of our tutors has the natural ability to teach someone. And after training and meetings with VEP staff, they develop skills and an arsenal of techniques.
You have something to teach, too! Won’t you consider joining us for the next tutor training workshop, to be held Sept. 12, 16, and 19, from 6 to 9 p.m., at Calvary Lutheran Church in West Chester. Click here for more information about the training and to register.
by Program Coordinator Patty Rappazzo-Morgioni