Cultural and community centers, nonprofits, community colleges and universities and school district adult education centers are some of the main centers for ESL instruction in the U.S. Volunteers are a vital component to any ESL program. They provide one-on-one and individualized tutoring to students to help them progress in their understanding of English. These tips can help tutors have a more positive and productive tutoring experience.
Attend trainings offered by the program for which you tutor ESL. These are available to volunteers to help them better understand their roles as tutors for ESL students.
Ask your tutoring supervisor or the teacher for whom you tutor to watch you tutor over a couple of sessions. Ask them to note where you need to improve and to offer suggestions for how to do so.
Join a teachers of English as a second/foreign/other language association. Attend a few of their conferences and seminars to learn what is new in the world of English tutoring. A few such associations include TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) and IATEFL (International Association for Teachers of English as a Foreign Language). Regional associations are another source of English-teaching conferences.
Remember that each student brings valuable knowledge and experience to the table. Whether the student is literate in his own language or has a graduate degree from his own country should not change how you view the student. Each student has his own life experiences and knowledge that will help him understand English. Take time to really get to know the backgrounds of each of your students. Use that knowledge to help them build their knowledge of English.
Give Students Time
When you want to answer a question yourself you have posed to a student about an English lesson, don’t. Give the student time to think the answer through himself. Do not be afraid of silence. In our culture, we feel the need to quickly fill in any break in the conversation, but it is important to give students all the time they need to answer a question themselves. This increases their sense of self-accomplishment.
Ask Specific Questions
Check for understanding of a lesson point by asking specific questions of your student. Ask, “What happened next in the story?” to see if your student got the gist of a story he read instead of “Do you understand?” Check to be sure he comprehended the point you or the teacher was trying to make by asking pointed questions related directly to the material being covered.
Take a proactive role in tutoring your ESL students. Ask for help when you need it. Read ESL teaching books from the public library or from the library where you tutor. Ask teachers for references to helpful reading material and for assistance in becoming a better tutor. Talk to your students to see if they can offer helpful suggestions to you about your teaching style. They may say you talk too quickly or that they do not understand the words you use when you explain a concept. The main idea is to communicate often with your students and your tutoring supervisors to improve in your job as a tutor.