The Learner-Centred Approach to Tutoring English-as-a-Second Language (ESL)
The way in which you tutor an ESL learner may be very different
than the way in which you were taught in grade school or university.
Often, in a classroom setting, the teacher makes decisions regarding the information
that is covered and the skills that are developed. However, adults learn
best when they can make decisions regarding what materials or strategies
should or should not be taught. When tutoring an adult learner, it is
important that all the activities and content be learner-centred.
Learners should be full participants in the learning process. Decisions should be
made with the learner, not for the learner.
Components of the ESL Tutor Training Manual
- The Tutor Training Manual will provide you with some basic teaching
strategies that will help your learner develop reading, writing,
listening and speaking skills. Promoting a learner-centred approach,
such as the one described above, will also be highlighted throughout
- The manual is divided into eight sessions, each
giving you information about the topic to get you started.
Additional resources will be suggested throughout the manual, should you be interested
in learning more about a topic of interest.
- Keep in mind that not all the information presented may be
applicable to your learner. Some of the teaching strategies discussed
are more useful for beginner learners, while others are more
appropriate for advanced learners. You may find that additional consultation
with your trainer is necessary after you have started tutoring.
- You may also find that your learner responds to some of the
strategies provided but will not progress as well when you
take a different approach. This is natural; not all learning
strategies work well for all learners all of the time. Some time
will need to be spent getting to know your learner and finding
what works for her.
Tutoring will be a learning process for both you and your
- While you are tutoring, you may also discover that your
different issues than many Euro-Canadian learners. For example,
culture shock and homesickness can be significant problems that
affect not only the ability to learn, but may also affect an individual's
physical and mental well-being. Other issues, such as motivation
and energy levels, affect learners regardless of how near or far from
home they may be living. Additional material regarding these issues
and how these issues may be addressed are also highlighted in the
manual. Once again, additional assistance may be necessary. Do
not hesitate to contact program personnel should problems arise.
A New Experience
You've taken on a new role as a tutor, and should be commended! Tutoring
an ESL learner can be a very exciting and challenging experience. As a
tutor, I understand the work a good lesson involves and the rewards it
brings as you see how someone has benefited from your work. As a
learner, I also appreciate the linguistic and cultural lessons I received when I
was abroad. But, it was through the patience, generosity and good humor
of my tutors that I learned the most important lesson of all – that, with
support and encouragement, it is possible to make anyplace a home. Thank
you for helping make Saskatchewan a home to the learners that you assist,
and enabling them to achieve the goals they want to achieve.
Myrina Rutten - James