Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who are the learners you serve?
The Volunteer Tutoring Program serves adult learners who are taking Adult Basic Education (ABE) or English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in the Basic Studies Division at Seattle Central Community College. ABE learners are usually native speakers of English who are either studying to get their GED or improve their skills in order to enter college classes or attain employment. ESL learners range in level from the literacy level (“What is your name?”) to transitional English, which is a pre-college level class. ESL learners come from Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and Europe. Students in both programs range in age from 18 to 75.
2. What are the needs of the learners?
ABE learners request assistance in basic math, reading, writing, or preparation to take the GED. ESL learners request assistance in developing their speaking, listening, pronunciation, reading, and writing skills. Nearly all of the learners benefit from the personal attention to their academic needs. As they improve in their understanding of the classroom work, their self-confidence also increases.
3. What services do you offer learners?
ABE and ESL learners who are enrolled in Basic Studies classes are eligible for two hours of tutoring per week for two quarters. Sometimes those two hours are on one day. However, it is usually best when a tutor can meet with the learner for a one-hour session on two different days.
4. What would I do as a tutor?
There are three primary ways that tutors can provide help: first, working in a one-to-one or small group situation; second, working as a classroom aide to a teacher in the classroom or in the ESL Lab; or third, participating in one of two Talk Time conversation sessions with ESL learners. Talk Time sessions are informal discussion groups that are focused on a particular topic.
5. What is the time commitment involved?
We ask that tutors commit to a minimum of two hours per week for two quarters (6 months).
6. Where does the tutoring take place?
All small group tutoring takes place in the Basic Studies Division room 3122 at Seattle Central Community College. Classroom aides assist in classes on campus or at specific off-site locations in the community. Talk Time is held on campus.
7. What kind of training or support would I receive as a tutor?
Until recently, our program worked with Literacy Now (also known as Tacoma Community House) to provide 12 hours of training for potential and current tutors. Sadly, Literacy Now has lost their funding and has had to cancel their tutor training. Our program is currently compiling a tutor training program, and we will contact current tutors once we begin this training. In the meantime, the program coordinator will try to orient you to the program and if you have any questions during your tutoring, please contact her.
Everyone benefits if tutoring can be a coordinated effort amongst the learner, instructor, tutor, and tutoring coordinator. Therefore, we highly encourage contact between the instructor and the tutor. We try to arrange a time for each tutor to observe in the classroom as well as to have the opportunity to maintain contact with the instructor.
8. What qualities are you looking for in a tutor?
One of the most important qualities in serving as a tutor is having respect for the life experiences and the needs of each learner. Tutors should be supportive of the learner’s effort and help her/him to build confidence as well as skills. Patience and enthusiasm are also valuable traits in empathizing with the learner’s situation and encouraging her/him to be excited about learning. Creativity and flexibility are also key factors in that tutors must be willing to explore a variety of ways to best assist the learner.
9. What challenges might I face as a tutor?
One of our main concerns is to ensure that both the tutor and the learner(s) are present at the appointed time. However, emergencies do occur on either part or sometimes individuals find that their busy schedules do not allow for tutoring. Thus, it is crucial that scheduling conflicts are addressed immediately. We require that tutors and learners give prior notification to one another or to the tutoring office if they will be late or absent. If either the tutor or the learner misses two sessions without prior notification, the result will be a reassignment in the match-up.
In matching up tutor/learner pairs or small groups, we do our best to thoughtfully consider the needs and interests of the tutors AND learners, as well as each person’s schedule. Thus, if there are serious difficulties in tutoring sessions or a particular match-up is not suitable to either the tutor or the learner, please contact Jessica to discuss the situation.
*Parking is a major problem around Seattle Central Community College. Those who tutor in the afternoon or evening may possibly obtain a parking permit to park in the garage on Harvard Street. However, parking permits for the morning are extremely scarce.
10. What do I do next if I am interested in volunteering?
Fill out the online application (under "get involved"). Once we receive your information, we will schedule a time for you to be interviewed. At that time, we will explore your interests and concerns, and clarify the details of our volunteer opportunities. If we find that it is a suitable match, we will discuss specific times for tutoring. Then you will hopefully be on your way to enjoying your experience of assisting the learners here in the Basic Studies Division at Seattle Central Community College!