Service Learning

Hello everyone. 

Clint (the Writing Center Director and my Professor here at Salt Lake Community College) asked me to share my plans for volunteering this Fall. I’ll be working for the Community Writing Center’s Teens Write Program and most likely be with someone who is not fluent in English to help them express themselves: I’m a little apprehensive. I suppose it’s because I don’t really know what to expect other than the academic world I’ve grown accustomed to.

What have you done to adapt to a new mentoring situation? Any suggestions for writing-ice-breakers (like a game?)

I want to do this because it’s a way to give someone something someone gave me: opportunity. Choosing to work at the writing center has been the best decision I’ve made in college. I’m grateful for the position. I’m grateful that people saw potential in me and gave me an opportunity to utilize it.
As a final thought, an instructor told me about why tutors are needed, why we’re important. She said that “you’re not just helping students learn how to write [or learn a subject], you’re [we’re] helping them graduate from college.” For me, that put tutoring in a different perspective; I hope you also realize how important your role is, that people need you.

Thanks in advance for any and all advice (I've got one: READ THE MANUAL.)




  1. As far as icebreakers go, I'd just make sure to ask plenty of questions in terms of their interests, hobbies, etc. If you show interest, they'll be more willing to open up; and if you can find a commonality, you'll have it made. We all want to be thought of as "intriguing" or "interesting," both of which are traits we all have. I suspect part of your job will be to remind your teen how awesome they already are.

  2. Anonymous3:09 PM

    I might suggest checking out Beth Godbee's article "Resisting Altruism." It's an in-depth walk-through of a one-on-one tutoring relationship with an English language learner, and it includes descriptions of a number of language activities they do together.

    Here's a link to the PDF:

  3. Anonymous5:52 PM


    I don't know if you'll see this, but I appreciate the link. I'm looking over the article right now, though I won't read it all; also, I'm not continuing with the volunteer program: It would require more time than I have to give. I'm going to do some other project that will not require as much.

    In the article, it's interesting how she mentions from the beginning the potential social and educational distance between the tutor and an ESL student. I also like how she says that differences can strengthen the relationship between the writer and the tutor (and I think that extends into our personal relationships as well). I do like the language activities: That's something I've never thought of before, doing activities like bringing children's books in, "advertisements, menu's, neighborhood fliers." I'll keep that in mind for my Writing Center work. Thanks!


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