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Strategies: The Tutor's Attitude
Children need a safe, risk-free environment in order to flourish and to learn. Here are some tips on how to establish this environment during your tutoring sessions:
- Be mindful of the complexities of learning a new language and culture. There are many different circumstances that bring families to a new country: job transfer, planned migration, war or refugee status.
- Be aware of your body-language and tone of voice around your student. Children are extremely sensitive and they feel acceptance or rejection from you long before you utter your first word.
- Be positive and encouraging when your student begins to experiment with new words, focus on the meaning of a student's effort to communicate rather than on the pronunciation, grammar or correct choice of vocabulary.
- Try to learn the proper pronunciation of your student's name. Do not put the onus on the child by giving him or her a "new American name." The effort should come from the tutor and will validate the child's identity.
- Recognize your student's hard work and willingness to begin learning a new language. Immigrant groups recognize the value of learning English in our society and want their children to learn English.
- Your interest in the child's culture and language should be infused in each of your sessions. For example, ask your student to make connections between your activities and the student's prior activities.