Special concerns for specialty tutors by Sara Hasson, class of '01

Publicity
Working with tutees
Teaching grammar

Publicity

  1. Professors:

    1. Talk with the professors in the department about your general role as a specialty tutor

    2. Try to set up meetings with them individually especially at the beginning of the year to talk about your hours, as well as the courses they are offering and if they have any specific expectations of you.

    3. Try to keep up communication with them throughout the term. If you find that all the students from a certain class are having difficulty with a certain topic, then discuss it with the professor; it saves you explaining it over and over again.

  2. Students:

    1. When visiting classes, be certain to stress that you’re willing to help with any questions they may have. Some students think that you are only there to correct compositions, but if you explain that you’ll help with homework, listening comprehension or readings then you’re more likely to have a variety of students from all sections come visit you.

    2. If you can try to express that you know that their subject is difficult and basically make it clear that you’re not going to harshly critique their writing, then your turnout will be better.

    3. Make sure they are aware of your hours, and if you feel like it possibly your email. This is completely up to you and if you feel that you have time outside of your regular hours to help students.

Working with tutees

  1. Be as approachable as possible: it’s usually much easier for students to come to you for help than their professor, especially if they feel that you understand if they make mistakes.

  2. Make sure they are aware of your hours, and if you feel like it, possibly your email. This is completely up to you and if you feel that you have time outside of your regular hours to help students.

Teaching Grammar

  1. When you correct a paper, try as much as possible to explain why their choice was incorrect. In the long run, you’ll have less work to do because the student has a better understanding of the grammar.

  2. Give lots of examples: it makes it much easier to explain. You may have a strong background in grammar and its terminology, but chances are, most students do not.

  3. If you read their incorrect sentence as it actually reads in English, most students will identify where the error is. It will become much more obvious than if you say that something is simply “missing” from the sentence.

  4. Sometimes you just have to give them the answers because they simply do not know that specific grammar rule. At the same time, it’s always better if they can come up with it themselves.

  5. Fix the errors that the student would know and let the other ones go. For example, explaining why the subjunctive is used to someone in an introductory class is a waste of both your and their time.

  6. Sometimes working in terms of English is easier for some students. For example, when working on things like word choice, if you say the word in English, most students will be better able to come up with a synonym than if you were working in their foreign language.

  7. Tell them to be wary of dictionaries: many times they will find words in dictionaries that are simply incorrect for the context. If they do make mistakes like these, explain in what context the word they chose is used.