The needs of the help center tutors
At the ESL Help Center of the Cégep de Rimouski (the “Cool-Aid Center”), more advanced students (the tutors) are paired with students having some difficulties (the tutees). The tutors are volunteers. Although they receive basic training in helping relationships, until recently, they lacked guidance and confidence in their own ability to help their tutees.
We wanted to better support our tutors, so that they in turn can better support their tutees.
In short, we wanted to:
- ensure a more rigorous and standardized supervision of tutors
- reassure tutors about their ability to help their peers
- improve the helping skills of tutors
Looking for a flexible solution
We wanted the solution we developed to be accessible and flexible.
Indeed, each tutee has specific needs (some have a disability, some are recent immigrants, some have children, etc.). Each tutor, in collaboration with the tutee, can choose what is best for the tutee.
In addition, the pandemic highlighted the need for flexibility. We wanted to develop resources that were useful both remotely and in person.
Finally, we wanted to develop materials that would be sustainable. The help center is not always run by the same people. We wanted materials to be easy to use for anyone, without requiring a steep learning curve.
In search of a rigorous-yet-fun solution!
We wanted to ensure that the framework of activities offered to tutors was rigorous. However, tutors are not teachers, and the help center is not a classroom. We didn’t want to just put together a bank of “traditional” grammar exercises; we wanted to change the paradigm.
We wanted to offer fun and friendly activities to tutors and tutees. The idea is to promote the joy of learning. Our motto for the Cool-Aid Center is “The grammar is implicit, but the fun is real.” We focus on conversation, interaction and play.
Our toolkit contains activities related to the subject matter of the 1st mandatory college English course.
We built our toolkit in Google Slides, an easy-to-use tool. We also integrated activities created with:
- Flippity.net (free)
- Wordwall (our department has access to the paid version, but the free version allows to create 18 activities)
- Edpuzzle (we used the free version)
When you open the toolkit, you have access to a series of digital books. One of them presents our model (Model, Apply, Perfect).
Screenshot of the first page of the toolkit, with the different digital books it contains.
The other 16 books are all divided into sections in the same way:
- Instructions for the tutor (“Tutor’s Road Map”)
- a summary of important grammar rules (“Getting Around”)
- a speaking and pronunciation activity (“Departure”)
- practice activities (“Itineraries”)
- an integration activity (“Destination”)
Screenshot of the cover of one of the digital books in the toolkit (for learning the use of future tense verbs). You can see the different tabs that separate the sections of the book.