approximately two years through Literacy Mid-South. My approach to working with Angela and
Mario varies due to their differing levels of proficiency. However, in preparing my lesson plans
for both of them I try to strike a balance between traditional methods such as reading aloud and
the use of a lap top computer for online activities. I also encourage the use of “formal English”
when we speak to each other.
Each tutoring session begins with a conversation about what happened in our lives over the past
week. I try to steer the discussion to current events as well as day to day living. It is important
to learn about your student’s personal background to the extent that he or she is willing to open
up as well as to share your own story. Helping broaden their view of the world has value as well.
Prior to beginning the substantive work for the session, I discuss the activity options that I have
prepared for that day. This practice encourages Angela and Mario to take ownership of their
learning experience. During each session I try to ensure that we use a workbook for spelling
or reading comprehension and the lap top for writing and editing. We also use the lap top for
online research into a topic that interests Angela or Mario or practical work such as filling out
employment applications and changing addresses.
Two writing exercises have seemed to be particularly effective. The first involves using flash
cards as word prompts for constructing sentences. This practice allows your student to write
creatively and the auto correcting software in Word points out grammatical and spelling errors
in a non-threatening way. The other writing exercise I have used effectively is to ask Angela
and Mario to make a list of their friends and relatives that includes basic information such as
their sex, approximate age and where they reside. After the lists are complete, the next step
is for Angela or Mario to write a sentence about each individual. The final step is to use the
sentences to draft a paragraph or two using the “Who, What, When, Where and Why” organizing
Every student and tutor brings different experiences and styles to the table so the techniques I use
will not be effective in all cases. The most important thing to do is the right one—respect your
student’s thirst for learning and adapt to their unique needs and interests. Best of luck y’all.