Tutoring ESL Students

Ready, Set, Go! Tutoring ESL Students

Speaking a foreign language is difficult. Writing a paper in a foreign language is just down right scary! Remember this when tutoring an ESL student. The tutorials won't be the same as those for a native speaking student, and you won't be able to cover everything in a single 1 hour tutorial session.


  1. Speak slowly and clearly.
  2. ESL students know grammatical terms, so USE THEM!!!
  3. The tutee is learning; the tutor is teaching.

I have tutored ESL students before, and I have found myself following this method of tutoring.

  1. Ask the student what the assignment was, what it was about, and what he or she wrote about.
  2. Discuss the paper and ask the student specific questions to see if he or she has developed a strong knowledge of the paper topic.
  3. Begin reading the paper. Put the pen in the student's hand! Do not begin to point out every single error. Instead, get an idea of where the student needs the most work. (Which area of grammar needs the most work? Does the organization need work? Is the thesis developed? etc.)
  4. Begin with the most commonly made mistake. Point out a few examples of the mistake in the student's paper. Explain why the mistake is wrong, then show how to make the corrections. Follow up by having the student write a few sentences or a paragraph including the correct form of the mistake.
  5. Continue revising the paper in this fashion. Chances are, the entire paper will not be corrected in the 1 hour tutorial. Don't Worry! Encourage the student to come back for another tutorial.

For more help, go to the Three Stage Editing Guide.

Created by Dana Jones