By Traci Grant, Adult Education Floor Manager and Outreach
Tutoring at Guadalupe is probably the easiest form of service you can do. Our volunteers are provided with lesson plans, materials, training, and support from our ESL specialists and staff. The most important part of your job is to show up. Really. That’s it.
Our evening classes where we use tutors are from 7 to 9 p.m. Tutors show up at about 6:45 to read through their lesson plan and check all of their teaching supplies. When you arrive, you’ll find a lesson plan and all your materials ready for you.
Our small group sizes make it easy for you to teach; there will only be three to five students in your group. The students in your group will speak English at the same proficiency, which means you will not have a more advanced student with one less advanced.
The very first part of your job is to welcome your students as they come in, ask how their day went, and create conversation in English. With the lesson plan already prepared, you only have to follow it. Lesson plans consist of an objective (the goal of the lesson), a Warm Up (usually framed as a review of the previous lesson), the Presentation and Practice (the main part of your lesson), and a Comprehension Check (making sure your students understand). There is also no pressure to finish the lesson. Your lesson plan is concurrent, which means that it builds upon itself. If you do not finish the lesson plan, the next lesson will start where you left off. After class, all you need to do is leave a note to your ESL Specialist explaining how the lesson went.
You do not need to know any language other than English. You do not need to prepare lessons. You do not need know anything about English grammar or sentence structure.
Many brand new tutors are worried about teaching grammar when they themselves do not know grammar. Don’t worry. Our mission is to give adult immigrants and refugees the skills they need to become members of their community and better provide for their family. It is not to teach past perfect participles and future progressive sentences. Most of the lesson plans are centered around life skills with more of a focus on conversation that our students will do in their everyday life. There are aspects of grammar, but it is not our focus.
With a curriculum based on conversation, you become friends with your students, you learn about their families, you learn about their jobs, and you learn about the struggles in their lives both here in the U.S. and in their native country. Our students take a break from 8 to 8:15 p.m. where they go down to our multipurpose room for coffee, tea, tamales, pupusas, or desserts (if we have them). As their tutor, we encourage you to go with them and talk. If you are learning your student’s language, this is a perfect time to have them teach you.
We do require a commitment of one night a week for at least three months; but don’t worry—you’ll want to stay longer. Come for the volunteering and stay for the students. Our students are dedicated, motivated, and determined to learn English. They are grateful for your service and sometimes express their thanks in home-cooked meals and goodies.