Tutoring Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Why should I come to tutoring? / What is the point of tutoring? / How can tutoring help me?

Ken Hyde answers: Before answering this question, ask yourself what your goals are for studying at ELI. Are you here to learn English for a reason? Do you want to go to school in the US? Are you going to use English in your career when you go home to your country? Do you want to improve your accent? Do you want to read better and understand more? Are you here on vacation and studying English for fun? The answers to these questions will point you to the answer to the question of how tutoring can help you and why you should come. The answer is basically the same: you should come because tutoring gives you a chance to work for two hours a week with a qualified English tutor who can help you meet your personal goals.

Your tutor can help you with your coursework, but that is only the beginning. Do you want to learn more about American culture? Your tutor can help you. Do you want to improve your accent? Your tutor can help you. Do you want to practice writing business letters? Your tutor can help you. Are you feeling lonely or homesick? You can talk to your tutor about your feelings and they can help you decide how to deal with the problem. Are you having a problem with your apartment mates? You can talk to your tutor and they can suggest some ways to fix the problem. Are you bored and looking for something fun to do this weekend? You can talk to your tutor and they can suggest some ideas.

The most important point of tutoring, however, is this: unlike almost every class you take in your schooling, tutoring is about what you want to study. You can be creative. Want to discuss American cinema? Sure, you can do that! Want to practice for the GRE? Sure, you can do that! Want to learn the history of all those famous American foods you’ve heard of? Sure, you can do that! If you tutor doesn’t already know about it, they can show you how to find out information and help you practice talking or writing about whatever you are interested in. Don’t let this opportunity for individual study go to waste. Come to tutoring and experience the possibilities.

What can I do during my tutoring hour? / What should I prepare for tutoring?

Jill McCracken answers: Tutoring differs from your regular class in several ways. You will not have tests or get homework in tutoring; instead, it is your responsibility to bring something to work on with your tutor. What you choose to work on depends on your own needs. You may want some help with correcting an essay, or in organizing your ideas before writing. Perhaps you will be giving a presentation in your L/S class, and would like to practice it and get pronunciation help. Tutors can work with you on particular problems in grammar, or on improving vocabulary. You may also ask your tutor questions about U.S. culture or confusing things you have seen or heard. Your tutor may NOT, however, help you with essays for applications. You will need to be prepared so that you can use your tutoring time well. Bring your textbooks and any other necessary materials with you when you meet with your tutor. If you know you want to use a specific source on the computer, it’s a good idea to try to find it before your tutoring hour. The two of you might also decide on a topic for focused conversation for your next time together, and you may want to think ahead a little about the topic. Tutoring gives you a great opportunity to have 50 minutes of conversation with a skilled English speaker who is there just for you. Please plan ahead and decide how you want to spend the hour, so you won’t waste your time together!

What is a cluster?

Jill McCracken answers: The cluster option offered by the Tutoring Center can be a good choice for certain students. A cluster is a small group (usually 2–6 students) that meets with a tutor twice a week to focus on one area of learning English. Clusters may deal with vocabulary, grammar, idioms, or other aspects of language improvement. In the Cooking Cluster students learn about the cultural side of American foods and how to prepare them, in addition to practicing conversation together. Students may request a cluster as one of their two tutoring selections per week. Those who are in clusters will also have one traditional individual tutoring hour each week, for a total of three tutoring hours weekly. The cluster will be indicated on student schedules by a letter code beginning with X.

My tutor isn’t in the room. What should I do?

Amanda Wlock answers: Tutors have a 10-minute break between students before the top of the hour; if a student has tutoring time from 1:00 to 1:50, then a tutor will have a break from 1:50 to 2:00 before their next student arrives. In this time tutors usually leave the room to eat or go the bathroom. If your tutor is not in the room, it is likely that he or she is doing one of these things, and the best action is to wait in your tutor’s room for him or her to return. However, if this is the first day or week of tutoring, it would be best to wait in the student lounge for your tutor to find you because rooms, tutors, and schedules might have changed. If your tutor does not come by, for example, 1:10 for your 1:00 tutoring time, please ask another tutor in the room for tutoring help because it is likely then that your tutor is absent (you can also see the question “My tutor is absent. What should I do? for more details).

My tutor is absent. What should I do?

Amanda Wlock answers: All tutors must wait till 10 minutes after the hour to determine if their own student is absent or not; if a student is supposed to have tutoring at 1:00, tutors must wait till 1:10 before they can mark that student absent. If the tutor’s student is absent, that tutor is free to substitute another tutor’s student. If your tutor is not present by 1:10 for your 1:00 tutoring time, check in your tutor’s regular room to see if the other tutors there can substitute you. If none of those tutors are free, go to the student lounge. Typically, if a tutor doesn’t have a student for that hour he or she will go to the student lounge and ask the students if anyone needs a tutor. In the rare case that a tutor does not do this, the student may check in the tutoring rooms again to see if a tutor is without a student.

If I have an appointment during my tutoring time, can I switch to an earlier/later time, if my tutor is free?

Nadya Pincus answers: You may only change your tutoring time once during each session, and only if you discuss this in advance with your tutor, and he/she agrees.

Where can I go for more opportunities to talk with native speakers of English? / How can I meet native English speakers?

Jeremy Penna answers: At first meeting and making friends with native speakers can seem daunting. With so many Americans everywhere–in the streets, in the restaurants, in the grocery stores–and all of them seemingly wrapped up in their own business, where do you begin? Do you simply pick a person at random? How do you break the ice? Anxieties about making friends can sometimes confine new visitors to narrow social circles. Fortunately, the ELI offers many opportunities to help students overcome their anxieties about befriending native speakers.

The first thing to consider is the option of staying with a homestay family. Daily conversation and involvement with your homestay family will provide you with numerous opportunities to practice your English. The regularity of such contact can enrich your cultural immersion as you stay in the United States. To learn how to apply to homestay, click here. If you live in the campus dormitories, you may wish to take advantage of of some of the University of Delaware and City of Newark’s social groups.

The University of Delaware has numerous Registered Student Organizations (RSOs). These are student-run clubs organized by interest. There are games clubs, sports clubs, cultural clubs, religious clubs, and hobby clubs. While membership is limited to full time UD students, the meetings are often open to the public. For more information, click here. In addition to RSO’s, you may consider checking out the Student Life section of the University of Delaware’s website. The website lists announcements of upcoming University of Delaware events and activities. Finally, it may be helpful to visit the Newark Free Public Library. The library hosts evening events: book readings, game nights, lecture series, and film clubs. You can find a list of library events here.

While meeting native speakers of English requires personal initiative, students who make the effort not only see dramatic improvements in their English but also enjoy a more rewarding ELI experience.

How do I write an argument essay?

Jane Wessel answers: In order to write an argumentative essay, you need to have an opinion. Pick a topic that has multiple viewpoints, and convince your reader of one of them. Issues that you can be for or against are often a good place to begin an argumentative essay. For example, are you for or against euthanasia? What about genetically modified foods? Do you think professional athletes get paid too much, or not enough? Once you have your opinion about an issue, make a list of reasons for your opinion. If you can come up with three good reasons, each one can be a body paragraph.

Write an introduction telling your reader about the topic. End your introduction paragraph with a thesis sentence (a thesis is one sentence that includes your argument and reasons). For example, a thesis might be, “America should not rely on genetically modified foods because they are not as healthy for us, the plants are invasive and take over farmland, and cheaply produced GMOs put farmers who rely on traditional plants out of business.” As you see, this thesis has an argument and three reasons supporting it. Next, write a body paragraph explaining and proving each reason. Finally, write a conclusion which restates your argument. Your conclusion might be a good place to acknowledge and disagree with the other side of the argument (for example: Genetically modified foods may help with worldwide food shortages. However, they are not safe enough to make that worthwhile). You can also end your conclusion with a call-to-action. (For example: Americans should learn more about the dangers of genetically modified foods and begin paying attention to where their food comes from. They should shop at farmers markets and support local farms.)

Is extra tutoring help available to students at ELI?

Owen Kelly answers: Yes. All full-time students are given two English Language Tutors, with two hour-long tutoring sessions a week. For extra tutoring help, a student can go to the Tutoring Center and sit down with any tutor who is not presently tutoring a student. There is no guarantee, however, that there will be free tutors at any given time. Additionally, a student may arrange extra tutoring outside of their regular Tutoring Hours through the ELI. Students should not ask ELI tutors for paid private tutoring, and any extra tutoring with ELI employees should be arranged through the ELI only.

Where could I go for more help with my writing?

Owen Kelly answers: The first and best place to go to for help with writing is the ELI Tutoring Center, during your scheduled tutoring hours. Your tutor can help you with grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, academic writing and essay writing, amongst other subjects. You can bring your rough draft, final draft or even just an outline to your tutor and they can give you advice, suggestions and criticisms for your writing. For further help outside of the ELI Tutoring Center, you can visit the University of Delaware’s Writing Center, in the basement of Memorial Hall.

I need to change my tutor time because I am in class at 2:00.

Nadya Pincus answers: In order to change your tutor time, you must go talk to Ken Hyde in Room 225A at 108 E. Main Street during his office hours (which are posted on his door). He will arrange a new time for you that will not conflict with your class schedule.

If a student needs to change their tutoring time, who should they see?

Ken Hyde

Where can I find a copier?

Cyndi Funk answers: There are many places to make copies. The Copy Center in the basement of the Trabant University Center allows you to make copies yourself. You will need to buy a copy card to operate the machines. The Student Multimedia Design Center in the basement of the Morris Library also allows you to make copies. You will need to buy a $10 copy card. Help is available to operate the copy machines. There are also copy machines on each floor of the Morris Library. The UPS store at 40 E. Main Street is another place to make copies. Finally, most buildings on campus where classes are held have a copy machine that can be operated with coins.

Where can I print out a paper?

Nadya Pincus answers: You may use the Self Access Learning Center (SALC) at 108 E. Main Street to print papers/articles that are related to your ELI classes. Printing there is by permission only – you should ask Aura (the SALC Coordinator) before printing anything out. If you wish to print a paper out and the SALC is closed, there are several computing sites on the University of Delaware campus where you can print. You can find more information about them on the following website: http://www.it.udel.edu/computingsites

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