Welcome to The Reading Program's Tutor FAQs.
The Reading Program is a one-on-one tutoring service provided by the Santa Clara County Library District. The program helps adults improve their basic reading, writing, math, and computer skills. Each student is paired with a volunteer tutor. Together, they work on achieving the student’s educational, career, and personal life goals. Volunteer tutors can also assist you with your GED, TOEFL, American citizenship test, written driver’s license test, resume, job application, basic computer skills, and other areas that require literacy skills.
Adult learners are individuals of a variety of ages (18 and over) and backgrounds, with diverse family and job situations. However, they often have many things in common, such as frustrating school experiences, low self-esteem, and embarrassment about not being able to read well. They also often have busy lives that can make time commitments to tutoring difficult. Moreover, many of the adult learners are ESL students who come to the U.S. from all over the world. They speak a variety of languages and have a wide range of educational backgrounds.
In so many ways! Learn about the impact that you can have on learners here.
In order to be a tutor for the Reading Program, you must:
- Be 18 years old or older.
- Have an understanding of basic English.
- Be able to communicate well in a student-centered environment.
- Be patient, flexible, and dedicated, and have a sense of humor.
- Be willing to go through a background check.
- Attend Tutor Orientation and Tutor Training.
- Be willing to meet with your student 2 hours a week for 6 months.
Note: Previous tutoring or teaching experience is not required, as we will provide training and resources.
No, you do not. Tutoring materials will be provided by the Literacy Specialists. Tutors can also prepare their own nontraditional learning materials that are tailored to the students’ levels and needs.
Note: Any learning materials sent by the Literacy Specialists belong to the student, and are to be kept by the student even after the tutoring pair has dissolved.
No, you are not required to speak the student’s native language to be paired with him or her. Students are generally tutored in English. However, if it is in the tutor’s skill set, a student’s native language can be used occasionally as an extra tool to provide them with additional support.
We generally encourage tutors to start with one student. However, if, after a few weeks, you would still like an additional student, please contact your Literacy Specialists. Group sessions are not encouraged because students are often at different levels, and have different goals. Additionally, students often seek our services because they feel uncomfortable in group or classroom settings.
If you cannot commit to tutor for 6 months for whatever reason, we ask that you refrain from volunteering for the Reading Program until you are able to commit to 6 months. In the meantime, however, there are opportunities to help at the ESL Conversation Clubs, which are classes designed to help adults over 18 years of age develop English speaking and listening skills in comfortable, casual settings. The ESL Conversation Clubs do not require a long-term time commitment, which is perfect for volunteers who are not available more consistently. You can get information on the ESL Conversation Clubs here.
Of course! We would love to have you for more than 6 months. You can stay as a tutor for the Reading Program as long as you wish. However, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to continue with the same student. If your student is not available for tutoring after the 6 months are over, you will be assigned a new student by the Literacy Specialists.
Tutoring usually takes place in any of the public libraries within the Santa Clara County Library District. However, you and your student can also agree on a different public location, such as a café, a bookstore, or a park.
Tutor Orientation is an hour-long introductory presentation. It is a great opportunity to learn about the program before committing to attend the Tutor Training. During the orientation, participants learn about the needs of adult literacy students, understand the qualities of an excellent tutor, and ask questions about the tutoring process. To sign up for the Tutor Orientation, click here.
Tutor Training is a five-hour-long training. During the training, tutors will learn how to:
- Understand and honor different learning styles and diversity that come with each student.
- Use tools and techniques to teach all four components of literacy: reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
- Identify appropriate literacy-based goals of the students.
- Develop learner-centered lesson plans.
Tutor Training is also a perfect opportunity to meet other tutors and the Literacy Specialists, with whom you will be working. To sign up for Tutor Training, click here.
Yes, you are required to attend both the orientation and the training.
Note: If you cannot make it to the set orientation dates, please contact your Literacy Specialists to discuss other options.
We ask those with extensive teaching experience to still attend the Tutor Training because we train tutors to work specifically with adults in the area of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Teaching children or teenagers is very different from working with adults. Similarly, teaching math or social studies is different from teaching reading, especially beginning level reading. During the training, you will be introduced to the adult materials and programs we have available, as well as to our procedures. Also, it is during the training that we have a chance to get to know you, which is helpful during the matching process with a student.
Yes, you can attend the training and work with someone you know if they are over 18 years of age, not currently enrolled in high school, read or write at or below an 8th grade level, and speak English well enough to communicate over the telephone and in person. However, the person you plan to tutor will need to call the Reading Program’s office to schedule an appointment for an assessment before you can start tutoring.
Yes. Vacations are accommodated, and even encouraged. Everyone needs a break occasionally! If you will be gone frequently or for long periods of time, please contact your Literacy Specialists, as it is best to speak with us about your individual situation, case by case.