Monday, February 18, 2008

Liz: Tips for ESL Tutors

I think things have been going very well so far at Central High School. The students seem to look forward to working with the tutors and they definitely appreciate the help. I have noticed though that many of the students want you to simply give them the answers so they can copy them down. It might give them a good grade on their homework, but it does not help them when it comes to taking tests because the students will not know how to answer the questions. It’s like the Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” So I have some suggestions for the tutors.

  • Encourage the student to try to answer the questions themselves. If they still do not understand, try to give them hints or tell them where they can look up the answer in their text books.
  • If you see students copying off of each other’s homework, offer to help the students instead of walking away and letting them copy. Many of the ESL students are frustrated with school because it is mentally exhausting to be going to school full time in your non-native language. Plus, many students have night jobs and do not have time to study out side of the ESL classroom. Often times the students just need you to go over the material one more time in a situation where they are allowed to ask questions and go over specific areas they do not understand.
  • If you have studied abroad, try to relate your experiences with the students and tell them you know how frustrating it can be to go to school in another country.
I think the tutors and the ESL students would get more out of their time if the tutors could “teach them how to fish.”

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