Backgrounder to Chinglin Summer English Tutoring Program

- a peer tutoring program organized by Maplewood and Hon Wah Middle School



What is Peer Tutoring?


PEER TUTORING is an organized learning process by which a student volunteer, with minimal training and with a teacher or an adult’s guidance, serves as the tutor and helps one or more students at the same grade level learn in schoolwork or in a certain skill.


Help – Share – Connect


The goal of the Chinglin Summer English Tutoring Program as a community service program is to proactively foster a willingness to help and to share one’s talents, and develop a sense of responsibility and deeper connection to the local community in Hong Kong.


We believe community service should form an integral part of a high school student’s education in which the student can learn the importance of thinking with both intellect and heart.


Students are urged to venture beyond their immediate communities and to participate in outreach and increase their knowledge and understanding of those different from themselves.


Program evaluation


Student Tutor: A Program Reflection Journal is strongly recommended for gaining the fullest experience out of the program. At least 20 hours worth of your sessions should be documented in the student tutor’s diary/reflection journal. Sessions should be documented in a handwritten or typed reflective log that discusses the challenges and rewards of each session. Each entry should be at least one substantial paragraph.


Tutor-Tutee Discussion: To strengthen the Tutor-Tutee relationship and to build a sense of shared ownership of the tutoring process, tutees meet together with tutors to reflect on their joint tutoring experiences. All are given the opportunity to share their feelings and thoughts about the tutoring process and expand their understanding of learning through peer tutoring.







Benefits of Peer Tutoring


Both tutors and students benefit. According to education research, peer relationships contribute to social and cognitive development and socialization. Learning, friendship, and social growth are often positive outcomes.


This approach to tutoring provides students with an opportunity to use their knowledge in a meaningful, social fashion. Peer tutors reinforce their own learning process by reviewing and reformulating their knowledge. Tutors retain and understand what they teach better than non-tutors. Tutees receive the opportunity for skill development in a non-threatening context.


Both tutors and tutees gain self-confidence - the tutor by seeing self-competence in his or her ability to help their peers and the tutee by receiving positive reinforcement from peers.


Tutors will learn how to listen and communicate effectively, and perhaps most important, they will learn about learning.



Effective Peer Tutoring Program – Some Random Notes


Empathy – Tutors and students must relate to one another to achieve common goals. See how you can work out a program of learning together. Let students realize they have a say in their tutoring program. Build and maintain a collaborative relationship. The tutor is a leader in this cooperative learning group.


Communication skills - listening, speaking


Quality desired - respect, patience, compassion, humility, discipline


Learn how to give, but understand you are also going to gain in a community service.


Your students are your peers in the same age group, but may have come from a different background, and they may have experienced things in life that you have not been exposed to.


Assessment - Assess their level of competence, get a baseline, then seek for improvement and measure improvement against the baseline level.


Motivate - Give lots of words of encouragement for learning efforts. Improvement could be piecemeal, but compliments and praise are well needed to sustain motivation. Be descriptive in your words; do not just say “Good!” or “Correct!” every time. Learn to be very observant, as do all good teachers – tell the episode on how they get to the right answer. Learn how to WAIT for the reluctant learner to respond and how to PROMPT or “give hints” without actually giving the answer.


Be creative, have fun. Use a sense of humor whenever feasible.


Suggestions for research:


- How to teach English as a second language well (TOESL)

- How you can sustain motivation

- How you can praise and encourage



So what is to be done in the first class?


Break the ice in your first class - Start with a chat or small talk and ask open questions, e.g. Tell me about your interests, your activities, what you do in the summer. Get to know them from all perspectives but at their level, do it in a natural way, generate trust. Think what you would like a new teacher at your school do to get to know you and that will make you tick.

From a peer tutor with some experience:


Solicit and listen to students’ needs. When the student asks questions, listen carefully before answering.

Watch out for the student becoming bored. Be observant all the time.


Maintain a level of discipline in class.


Teaching is not easy.


Make regular progress - Follow a lesson plan that has been prepared for the tutoring session, master the material to be taught, cover the material adequately in each session, motivate the student and maintain discipline.


The lesson plan should be simple and easy to follow, with the following components:

- Review of previously learned material
- Presentation of assignment and the purpose of the work to be completed
- Review of work completed with a reward of compliments and praise



Suggestions for Language Tutoring Activities


Peer tutoring is most effective with drill and practice activities rather than teaching in the conventional Instructor-Student mode.


Collaborative activities are also quite effective in nurturing a good relationship between the tutor and the tutee. Examples: Reading a newspaper article or a book together, sight word practice (i.e. flashcards), writing a story together, completing reading comprehension tasks together, discussing assigned reading, etc.


Reading together and discussing the books afterward is especially effective as an introductory activity for the program. Sometimes the tutee reads to the tutor, and then the two exchange roles. Story writing could be a natural offshoot of this activity. Word board games, crosswords, spelling games (picking out a deliberate mistake, for example) are other possibilities.


Learning should be fun. One example is to use sign language to prompt a student to spell a word correctly instead of saying the letter directly – which means both tutor and tutee also learn and master the sign language somewhere along the line.



Goals and Parameters of Peer Tutoring


Our goal is to provide a resource for students at Hon Wah in need of supplemental help on their English course work. The peer tutoring program is designed to help Hon Wah students refresh/learn/understand high school course material and concepts.


While tutors have the course syllabus and other teaching materials, tutees are expected to bring their own materials with them to class.


Communications is encouraged between tutors and the tutees. This allows the tutors to design their teaching to fit the needs of their students.


As a volunteering tutor, you have certain rights and responsibilities. 


Tutor Responsibilities and Rights


1.              To report on time at the appointed place. 

2.              To be willing to use all your talents and experiences to do a good job.

3.              To accept guidance and direction.

4.              To take any problems or concerns to the coordinator.  


5.              To be treated as a team member.

6.              To be assigned a suitable tutoring role for your talents.

7.              To be given guidance and direction.

8.              To be listened to, especially if you have any problems or concerns with the program.



More Tips


Tutoring sessions should take place in the Hon Wah Middle School classrooms during normal hours.


Tutors are responsible for taking attendance of students coming to the session.


Tutors need to find out what the student knows and understands in order to give effective advice and help in specific areas where assistance is most needed.


Tutors should be friendly, polite, positive, and professional at all time.


If the Tutor is unclear on the curriculum material or course concepts, she may call the coordinators for advice.


Tutors are not allowed to do the student's work for them. Temptation will set in, but please remember that students learn by doing the work themselves.


It is ok to make suggestions, and to look over a student's paper to see if he or she has a grasp on course material and concepts.


Students should come in prepared with their coursework, textbooks, and/or rough drafts of writing assignments.


Tutors should support each other in teaching their students.  If you don't know or feel unqualified to assist a student you may make arrangement to have another tutor to help out.


When answering questions, it is always a good idea to offer examples to the student.


Tutors are in charge of tutoring sessions, but not responsible for the effort or grades of students.


When tutoring, if the student appears negative, frustrated or hostile, do not take it personally. Students who feel frustrated or upset are not upset with you - you just happen to be available.


Tutors should be aware that some students (who are your peers) may try to control session or manipulate tutors to their advantage. Tutors should stay focused and in control of the tutoring sessions. Above all, do not do their work for them.


Additional Support Contacts


For accidents, health or medical emergency, contact Hon Wah school staff immediately.


If a Tutor is uncertain about any situation, consult with the coordinators.

"We learn best by teaching!"




Some website references on peer tutoring