A new adventure in learning…

I’ve signed up for a volunteer tutor training program through Vancouver Island University and the Career Centre in Parksville. It’s actually two back-to-back training opportunities:  the first two Fridays are focused on ESL Settlement Assistance tutor training (an award-winning program that has had its funding cut?) and that is followed by four Fridays focused on literacy tutoring (my primary area of interest). We had our first session last Friday.

1.  ESL Settlement Assistance Tutor Training

Although I find it somewhat challenging to sit for this length of time, we did have breaks and the first half was pretty engaging. Tomiko (sp?) was a volunteer tutor when she first came to Canada from Japan. She’s now “giving back” by providing us with a true immersion experience as she teaches us some basic introductory Japanese phrases – without ever speaking a word of English. It was a great experience and she certainly “walked the talk” in terms of introducing us to the challenges of trying to learn another language AND demonstrating some really powerful (yet simple) techniques that ensured that we were able to understand what she wanted us to do. As you might expect, she used repetition, simple phrases, the intonation of her voice, gestures, and lots of positive reinforcement.

Konnichewa! Watashi No Namae Ha – Sylvia – desu  (Hellow, My name is Sylvia)

We have a pretty big group (didn’t count but the room was full) with a diverse range of interests and backgrounds – it will be fun having a community to learn with that I can reach out to once I’m actually tutoring. When I tutored a literacy student in Whitehorse, I had only the program manager (it was the summer) and I didn’t really know if I there were more strategies/techniques I could have used to help him learn more effectively. I have taught writing and communication skills but never at such an introductory level – it’s a very different experience.

ESL tutor qualitiesSo, today is frantic catchup homework – a very well-designed (at first glance) learning site from BC – 2008 –

I believe I do have the basic skills a tutor needs – patience, a sense of humour, an interest in people and other cultures. Looking forward to learning some helpful strategies. Curious what today’s class will bring.