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Fall 2016 Tutor Newsletter
Welcome to TLC’s Tutor Newsletter

Tutors of Literacy in the Commonwealth (TLC) provides tutor training and tutor coordinator support to adult literacy programs in Pennsylvania. Services provided by TLC are free of charge and available to all Pennsylvania adult literacy programs using volunteer tutors; training materials are provided for participants of TLC’s face-to-face presentations. Please feel free to contact us with your requests and suggestions. 

Please read to the end of the newsletter for information about the 2017 Tutor Conference and Outstanding Tutor!

Tutor Stories

Ed ~ TLC’s 2016 Outstanding Tutor

Ed has been tutoring ESL students with York County Literacy Council (YCLC) for thirteen years. Currently he tutors multiple students one-on-one, designing personalized lessons for each. The students vary in age and ability, from true beginners to more advanced students who are perfecting their pronunciation and speaking patterns. Much of the supplemental material Ed chooses for students is from York County Literacy Council’s library. This might include books on phonics and conversation, or books focused on the workplace. One of the students with whom Ed currently works is a woman from Brazil. Ed has worked with her for two and a half years; her English was excellent from day one and Ed enjoys the challenge of keeping the lessons interesting for her.

Ed originally learned about the tutoring opportunity with YCLC from an ad in the newspaper; it sounded like a good program, one that would offer Ed a challenge. Ed has continued tutoring because "the rewards are fantastic". He is helping to change the lives of the learners for the better and he has the added bonus of feeling that his life is changed as well. Ed continues tutoring with York because he sees the excellent job York is doing for the community.

Chel ~ An ESL Tutor from Chester County - OIC

Chel has been tutoring an ESL learner one-on-one at Chester County OIC (CC-OIC) for about a year. Recently retired, Chel wanted to be more involved in the local community and she found the CC-OIC staff friendly and encouraging as she looked for a volunteer opportunity. Her relationship with her very motivated student keeps Chel motivated. It helps that Chel finds the material interesting and that she enjoys the problem solving aspect of tutoring. One of her problem solving techniques involves technology. The student, a woman from Kosovo, has a translation app on her smart phone which pronounces words. The app has been useful both outside of and during tutoring sessions. Chel and the student have occasionally used it to work out nuances of a complex or abstract word when Chel can’t find synonyms that are familiar to the learner.

Sometimes finding just the right resource has been difficult for Chel. As she and the student are preparing for the GED® language test, they find that dialogue in many of the practice readings involves nonstandard forms of English, requiring a great deal of explanation. Chel cautions the student not to use those phrases in her responses on the GED®. In her search for resources, Chel is looking for one that explains parts of speech and verb tenses; if anyone has a suggestion, please let TLC know and we’ll share the information. Chel is also looking for an easy-to-read Qur’an . In the spirit of collaboration, Chel is willing to share activities she has developed herself, such as multiple choice fill-in sentences which she uses to help the student learn vocabulary words. (If you are interested in getting Chel's activities, contact TLC.)

The student with whom Chel works has been in the United States for many years and has been a citizen for nine years. With her twins now in school, she is working to pass her high school equivalency exam with the goal of getting a better job than her previous one. She has passed the science and social studies GED® tests and is now working on language, since her language skills have improved a great deal in the last year. Chel lets the learner set the pace of the tutoring sessions, which includes much work outside of the sessions - undoubtedly contributing to the improvement in her language skills.  
Suggested Resources
Tutors, we know you want to find and develop worthwhile lessons for the learners you are tutoring and you don’t have large amounts of time to do it. You want to make the most of your tutoring time with the learners and you want to make a difference as efficiently and effectively as possible.

TLC’s newsletter will suggest useful materials to assist in the planning of your tutoring sessions. Please let us know what you find useful and what you would suggest to others by emailing Colleen at
Pennsylvania Adult Education Resources 
This is a preview of the sections of the website that are most relevant to tutors, with a few of the resources expanded. Please plan to take some time to peruse the numerous excellent teaching resources on this site!

PA Adult Ed Resources > Teachers & Tutors > Teaching Resources > ESL

On the ESL page there are sections for Resources, Content Standards, ESL Materials for Career Pathways, EL/Civics Lesson Plans, ESL Activities and Learners’ Lives as Curriculum© thematic units.

  • Learners’ Lives as Curriculum© is a model connecting professional development with materials development, in which practitioners develop materials for learners in their programs based on learners’ needs and experiences. Lessons are provided on many topics.

PA Adult Ed Resources > Teachers & Tutors > Tutoring

On the Tutoring page there are sections for: 

PA Adult Ed Resources > Teachers & Tutors > Lessons > Lesson Bank

The lessons on this page were created by Pennsylvania adult educators and vetted by a review committee to ensure alignment to the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS).

Currently there is an ESL vocabulary lesson under the heading of Reading/Writing and lessons on finding the main idea under the heading of Reading.

You are invited to submit a lesson for inclusion on this page. The review process and rubric are located on the Submit a Lesson page.

PA Adult Ed Resources >  CCR Standards > CCRS Tools and Resources

The resources on this page start with a table to help you identify which sections will be of most use to you. Each section can be expanded for further information. As tutors, you may find  Section 1 – Depth of Knowledge and  Section 7 – General CCRS Resources for Teaching and Lesson Planning useful. For example, the  CCRS and PA Standards Aligned System (SAS) Resource Crosswalk in Section 7 is very helpful in finding activities related to specific standards.

PA Adult Ed Resources >  CCR Standards > Workforce Career Pathways >  Foundation Skills Framework
The Foundation Skills Framework provides a common language for an understanding of the basic skills, knowledge, and competencies adults need to obtain or maintain jobs and advance to higher-paying jobs. The Framework, visually represented as a wheel, has been used to build and plan workforce education programs, help learners set goals, develop curriculum and provide instruction, and informally document foundation skills achievement.
This website has resources for tutors and tutor coordinators. TLC recently released an online version of a handbook for tutors for reading and writing (see below) and a math version will be shared soon.  
  • Tutor Handbook ~ Reading and Writing Instruction ~ Full of information and ideas for activities, including: introductory information on working with adult learners, direct instruction, planning lessons and much more!
  • Tutors > ESL Resources ~ This page is full of resources, many recommended by other tutors of ESL learners. You can find links to online courses, videos, grammar, vocabulary, and listening sites as well as handouts from TLC's ESL Tutor Training.  
Additional ESL Resources
This page includes a  Resource Center with  Briefs and DigestsDatabases and DirectoriesOnline Courses (with a fee) and a  Resource Archive.     

English Grammar 101  
This is a site that Chel and the student with whom she works found and recommend. The site includes step-by-step lessons on parts of speech, sentence parts, verbal phrases, capitalization, punctuation, and troublesome words. It includes pretests for each section and each lesson has definitions or descriptions, examples, and practice. 

This website features Teaching ESL to Adults: Classroom Approaches in Action ~ a series of twelve videos which can be viewed online or purchased as four DVD volumes.

OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab, English as a Second Language

  • ESL Instructors, Tutors - According to the site, "These OWL resources will help ESL instructors and tutors develop curricula for teaching second language writing. This section includes resources on writing across the curriculum, writing in the disciplines, and it contains links to OWL workshops and exercises useful for ESL instruction. This section also includes links to ESL resources on the Internet.
  • ESL Teacher Resources - A summary of this page states "The professional resources listed below are both theoretical and practical. The list includes links to organizations and journals of interest to language teachers and language policy developers, as well as to a selection of online teaching and reference materials. Each of these links is a portal to an extensive collection of further resources for the professional ESL community."
  • ESL Students - "These OWL resources will help ESL students in second language writing. This section includes resources on writing across the curriculum, writing in the disciplines, and it contains links to OWL workshops and exercises useful for ESL students. This section also includes links to ESL resources on the Internet."
Tutor Conference
Mark Your Calendar - Tutor Conference, February 13, 2017

PAACE is dedicated to promoting adult education through the support of providers and practitioners who are committed to increasing the self-sufficiency of adult learners. The PAACE Conference, Together toward Tomorrow, is scheduled for February 13 and 14, 2017, at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center in State College. This conference features speakers, networking opportunities and sessions on various topics - many of which contain ideas for teachers and tutors working with adult learners. The tutor conference - on Monday, February 13, 2017 - will include sessions designed specifically for tutors and tutor coordinators and proposals are being accepted NOW. Any tutor (or tutor coordinator) can submit a proposal to present a 75 minute session. We would love to hear what you are doing with the learners you tutor so please submit a proposal here. (Contact Kim Roush,, with your questions about the tutor conference.)

Conference session proposals will be accepted until November 4 and registration will open December 1. TLC sponsors the attendance of many tutors at this conference so watch for information on how you can get your free registration for this professional development day.  
2017 Outstanding Tutor

Pennsylvania’s Outstanding Tutor 

The purpose of this award is to honor an individual volunteer tutor who has provided outstanding instructional services to an adult student in a Pennsylvania adult literacy program. Nominations are due December 16.

TLC believes that all of you are outstanding in what you do to help adult learners achieve their goals. This is the chance to be recognized for all that you do. Nominations can be submitted by tutors, tutor coordinators, administrators, learners, or others. We know that some of you go well above and beyond and have very special characteristics and unwavering dedication. We want to meet you and thank you in person for all that you do! The winner will be announced at the luncheon of the Tutor conference at the Penn Stater, State College, on February 13, 2017. The award includes a cash prize, attendance at the conference with lodging, a certificate, and a special gift.  

Learn more here.