I have learned a few things about English tutoring, having taught in high school, a community college, and as a tutor in a technical college for more than 25 years I would like to share them with those who aspire to the "noble" profession. The most important is to respect your student or client and be sensitive to his needs and desires. Here are other tips:
Make the tutored feel welcome.
Assume a non-aggressive approach. Be authoritative but in a suggestive way.
Be patient and relaxed.
If possible, tutor in a quiet area with no distractions; provide comfortable chairs, a table, and air-conditioning that is neither too cold or too warm and keeps the humidity low.
Each tutoring session should last about thirty minutes-an hour at the most. If traffic is high, it may be necessary to adjust the time. Some students require less time; others require more.
Do not spend any additional time on a student's research paper: This type of essay is too long for the time period assigned. You might spend the time critiquing the introduction, the thesis statement, the first paragraph of the body of the essay, and the conclusion.
Focus more on guiding him or her to analyze the problems in their essays and come up with acceptable improvements. Do not do the work for them.
Concentrate on the more glaring errors, such as the thesis statement, transitions, organization, and development.
But point out spelling and punctuation errors and suggest they consult a dictionary, thesaurus, and a handy grammar handbook.
Encourage the student to ask for clarification if he fails to understand your remarks.
Encourage follow up with a revised draft.
Always find ways to point out something the student has done correctly and imaginatively. Perhaps comment upon his or her judicious use of topic sentences for each paragraph that refer back to the essay's thesis statement. Coherence, unity, smooth transitions from one thought to another, use of specific details that produce support for ideas, and choice of words that add variety and vivid, forceful imagery are a few important elements to congratulate them on.
Thank the student for allowing you to assist him in developing his communication skills.
Avoid getting into arguments with your students. Point out that you are there to help them, not force anything upon them. Defuse the situation.
Ask the student to give you feedback about the response of his teacher. It helps you to see how well you are doing as a tutor. Many come back and say proudly that they received a good grade, most often a B+ or A. Very gratifying.
Network with other tutors. It's astonishing how much tutors can gain from one another.
Keep up on the latest helps for tutoring by attending special conferences in tutoring, participating in staff workshops, and studying new reports published. Go to your computer: Google in the keyword Tutoring or Tutors. A drop down will provide numerous references to the subject.
Tutoring is a challenge. It is a field, in my retirement, that I have found in which I can make a difference. I cherish the experience of not only sharing my knowledge, skills, and love of helping students of all ages but also learning from them, too. In tutoring at Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, Georgia I also have had the advantage of meeting people from all over the world: Colombia, Russia, Latvia, German, Nigeria, Mexico, Vietnam, Korea, Venezuela, Romania, India, El Salvador, the Caribbean, Uruguay, Nepal, and China. The journey has made me more cosmopolitan, more sensitive to the concerns of others wherever they come from.
By Harry C Copeland