Tutor Tips

fruit and veggie flash cards

Purpose: Flash cards can be used to provide students with additional practice or additional challenge. They can be used individually or in groups. Please see the list below for more ideas on how to use them for varied purposes.

Prep Time: 0-25 minutes, depending on whether you need to make your own flash cards

writing on text

Purpose: to have students think about their reactions to a text as they read it

Prep Time: 10-20 minutes

Materials: a level appropriate reading text, a projector

Prep: read the text and decide on the purpose for reading the text, such as finding key details, summarizing, or building background knowledge about a topic


1)     Based on the purpose for reading, choose one to three marks for students to use while they read.


Purpose: To use listening skills while practicing vocabulary

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Materials: A whiteboard, pens and paper, and a list of vocabulary

Prep: Choose a list of approximately ten vocabulary words that the students have been studying

vegetable vocabulary cards

Picture cards are a valuable, fun and flexible teaching tool. The tutor tip a couple weeks ago explained how to make them. This week we’ll look at ideas for using them.  Many of the suggestions work with words cards as well as picture cards. Here are twenty ideas to get you started:


Purpose: Picture stories are a multi-level resource that is especially valuable for working with beginning language learners. They can be used to build vocabulary, conversation, reading and writing skills.

Prep Time: 10-30 minutes, depending on the number of sets needed and the number of activity variations to plan for

Materials: one set of 4 to 10 pictures per pair of students; pencils and notebooks


job search picture story

Purpose: Picture cards and picture stories are great for both introducing and practicing vocabulary for beginning English learners and in multi-level classes. This tip explains how to create your own. Watch for future tips with ideas for using them.

Materials: presentation software (such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Google slides, or similar), a printer, and scissors



This activity idea comes from Total Participation Techniques by Pérsida Himmele and William Himmele.

Purpose: This speaking activity can be used for brainstorming, problem solving, processing new information, or review.

Prep Time: None

Materials: An open ended question for students to answer

Prep: Design a thought-provoking and open ended question for students to answer, preferably one that will deepen the learning that is taking place in a lesson.


woman stretching

The first fifteen to twenty minutes of an adult class can feel chaotic and unproductive. Students are arriving late after dropping off children at school or coming from work, and they trickle in a few at a time.  How can we make the best of this time?

raise hands

Purpose: To direct students’ attention to the teacher

Prep Time: None

Materials: None

Although we appreciate adult learners’ enthusiasm, the side chatter that results can be frustrating. Chances are there are classmates who are bothered by the side chatter as well. When it is time to listen to the teacher, try teaching students one of the following procedures:


The following tutor tip is very similar to the last one, but this time the text and questions are for beginning level ESL students.

Purpose:   To give learners a brief introduction to an often mystifying American holiday. The procedure listed below gives student practice with using reading strategies to increase comprehension.

Prep time: 5-10 minutes

Materials: copies of text (see link below), projector, candy for role play (optional)



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