29 May 2014

Tutor Conference Tips, Part Three: Staying On Track

In this series, we’ve been reflecting on lessons learned and wisdom shared at the Tutor Conference in May of 2014.

In this installment, we’ll look at our tutor’s best 25 pieces of advice around staying on track and keeping your learner engaged during your time together.

  1. Use the internet for source material –News sites, Wikipedia, or other sources that would be of interest to the learner. Top on-line resources shared: (idioms & slangs),,,   
  2. Vary your programme – have a consistent routine, but mix up content to ensure you and your learner don’t get bored.
  3. Ask the learner what they want to learn and plan your lessons around their interests.
  4. Use repetition to help the learner improve specific skills.
  5. Use real life exercises – tailor it to their everyday lives to make it relevant.
  6. Keep your learner motivated – stay focused on why they are there, and remind them when they need some encouragement.
  7. Write goals and review them regularly. 
  8. Include interaction with their family in their activities. 
  9. Stay on topic with little or no discussion about the tutor’s personal life, or learner’s life after the initial 10 minutes of personal discussion time. 
  10.  Find authentic materials that are appropriate and interesting using a variety of resources including newspapers, novels, short stories, the internet, etc. 
  11.  Talk about the timetable or agenda (for your session) and be specific but with a little flexibility. 
  12. 20 minutes on any task is enough time. 
  13. Ask questions based on lessons, experiences, and actions relative to the session. 
  14. Ask “What have we learned?” at the end. 
  15. Use flashcards to learn new words.
  16. When learning a new section of text, cover everything except the one line you want the learner to focus on.  This will keep them from getting distracted or overwhelmed. 
  17. Find some difficult words for you, (e.g. – from scientific textbooks) to show your learner that we are all learning (demonstrate that good readers are not perfect readers) 
  18. Keep a tutor’s journal, to check back on progress and challenges you’ve faced along the way.
  19. A session is best kept to an hour or ninety minutes. More or less time may be too much or too little.
  20. Meet and learn in a consistent place at a consistent time. 
  21. Talk to your learner about whether or not they want homework.
  22. Come to your lessons prepared.
  23. Use a variety of different teaching techniques, and hone out which ones work best for your learner (and which ones they like the best, too!)
  24. Life experiences of the learner should be considered – be mindful of what may or may not be appropriate.
  25. Use visuals (e.g. – pictures) to stimulate conversation.  


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