Tutor Tips

four people sitting in a group around a table

Purpose:  to support learners in developing their speaking skills, while developing inferring and sharing evidence skills.

Preparation Time:  15 minutes

Materials Needed:  sets of three pictures (one of people, and two of objects, places, or activities)


certificate of completion for online volunteer class

Adult ESL classroom volunteers are the best! They answer questions, give learners feedback and support, provide speaking practice, encouragement, and help keep teachers sane. New classroom volunteers are hungry to jump in and help, but sometimes aren’t sure where to start.

graphic of elllo website

If you teach an ESL class, you might hear learners tell you that they struggle to understand people that they interact with out in the community. English language learners benefit from listening to fluent English speakers who have different accents, speaking speeds, and speaking styles. They need to be able to understand everyone, not just their teacher!

Purpose:  to give learners practice phonics and spelling. 

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Materials Needed:  paper or card stock to make letter tiles.

Preparation: cut paper into 1 x 1 inch cards. You will need enough for each student to have 8 cards.


a black and white picture story showing a woman with a stressful life

Purpose:  to give learners practice identifying the main idea and retelling key details

Preparation Time:  15 minutes

Materials Needed:  sets of picture stories, cut apart


a detective in a green coat and hat smoking a pipe and looking at a question mark through a magnifying glass

Purpose:  to help learners begin to use evidence from a text to make inferences and support answers

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Materials Needed:  A picture, sets of questions


clipart figure speaking through an orange bullhorn

To learn more about the I-We-You method for giving directions, visit the Teacher Training Toolkit at http://mnliteracy.org/TrainingToolkit

a silver stopwatch

Purpose:  to assist learners in developing their verbal summarizing skills.

Preparation Time:  None

Materials Needed:  None


Purpose:  When faced with a writing assignment, students, especially English Language Learners, need time to generate ideas and vocabulary. Guiding students through the following steps will help them create writing that is richer than if they just sat down and started write.  

Preparation Time:  None

Materials Needed:  None


1. Provide  topic for the writing assignment.

2. Give them 2-3 minutes to sit and THINK about what they are going to write.

Bridges to Benefits is a great resource for tutors who are helping students look for benefits and services in the community.

The key feature of the site is a tool that will help assess eligibility for public support programs (food, housing, etc.). An individual answers a few questions about income and family structure and the screening tool will offer some POSSIBLE benefits and services. Individuals will need to then follow-up with programs directly.



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