Tutor Tips

Here are some tips from a past tutor in-services:

How to Say a Question:
Practice saying questions with students until they learn correct inflection. Say a question and have them repeat it after you.

Bingo Cards:
With one (or more) students, create bingo cards with words in each square that are being studied. Instead of pulling a “letter/number” to match a square, pull a definition card. Or pull a card that states verb, noun, etc. to match a square. Another option is to practice sight words this way.

Free Flashcards and Ideas:
Especially for earlier readers, check out the website for children’s author Jan Brett at www.janbrett.com. Download flashcards on many topics (e.g. math operations, color practice, Dolch Word Lists for sight words). Snoop around for ideas and delightful artwork.

Puzzle Creation:
A student studying citizenship liked a homemade American history puzzle. The puzzle included answers to who, what, when, where, and why questions given by the tutor.  Example: The tutor named a person and what the person did. The student had to pick out the when and why answers that were related.

Placemat Idea:
Use pictures to create a placemat that trigger key concepts on the material being studied. Emphasize who, what, when, where, and why.

ESL or Beginning Adult Basic Ed:
Check out Very Easy True Stories from our library. This series has stories to model reading and then have the student read. Comes with comprehension questions and gets good conversation started.

Here are some ideas from tutors like you:
  • When you begin to work on writing with your student, don’t be too concerned with grammar – just get the student writing (or use Language Experience Approach as described in your tutoring manual). Try to retain your student’s voice!
  • Remember to incorporate the 4 language components: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
  • Use props whenever possible (figures, balls, plastic letters, etc.)
  • Read books and ask student questions about the pictures
  • Have some fun with the learning (Hokey Pokey, Simon Says)
  • Write a word from the Picture Dictionary on a slip of paper – see if your student can look it up.
  • Repetition is crucial.
  • Remember: Just because they can sound out a word doesn’t mean that they comprehend the word. To check comprehension, ask questions or get them to show you that the word was understood!
  • Create your own stories using new vocabulary words.
  • Help your student create personalized picture dictionary using pictures cut from magazines or the newspaper. With a lower level student, just a word and picture can be entered. As skills improve, have the student add a sentence or two using the word in a sentence.
  • Use newspapers – inexpensive and available!
    • Find graphs/charts in magazines or newspapers to review.
    • Go from concrete thinking (who-what-where-when-why) to more analytical thinking (fact vs. opinion, what kind of person was…, what do you think about...., what would make someone....).
    • Observe different purposes: classified (apartment/home buying, auto sales, employment, etc.), editorial page, local news, national news, obituaries, sports, etc
Here are some links for help or ideas.

Dave's ESL Cafe
Business English, idioms, phrasal verbs, slang, quizzes, idea "cookbook", etc.

GED Preparation 
Resources to help with test preparation.

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS ONLINE)
Teacher resources, program schedules, adult learning service, general articles, etc.

US Department of Education
Too much stuff to list it all!

Lesson plans in Arts, Language Arts, Science and Social Studies. Lots of other great information.

Lesson ideas and teacher resources

The White House
Information about the President and Vice-President (and their wives), tour of the White House, press releases, free materials from the government, etc.

Verizon Literacy Network
This site is helpful to potential and existing volunteers with free online courses and information concerning literacy. Great site!

The Key
Online monthly newspaper with articles written specifically for new readers.

First Find
Easy to use information on many topics written in plain and simple English.

Free online English lessons and ESL (English as a Second Language)/ EFL (English as a Foreign Language) resources.

The online resources section at this site includes user-recommended Websites in the following topic areas: Housing, jobs, education, legal services, health, cultural perspectives and community technology. These sites aren't necessarily at a low literacy level, but provide a range of resources for adults, youth, children, communities and may be useful to Adult Basic Education and GED teachers.

City Family Magazine
Many of the articles will be of interest to adult learners. Topics include: news, health, U.S. publicly-funded social service education programs, home feature articles, money, education, work, fun and advice.

Online Guide to Grammar and Writing
Wonderful tutor resource for grammar and writing.

Writing Prompts
Descriptive writing prompts for elementary, middle, and high schools. List is excerpted from Blowing Away the State Writing Assessment Test by Jane Bell Kiester and retyped by Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.

Activities for ESL Students
Quizzes, exercises and puzzles to help students learn English as a Second Language.

California Distance Learning Project
News-related topics to help build reading and life skills for adult learners.