The English as an International Language (EIL) tutoring program benefits both the tutors and tutees, where tutors get away with a credential while the tutees learn English skills, explained Amanda Wallace, EIL tutoring program supervisor and associate professor.
Wallace explained, “The tutees get the benefit of working with a peer, and they get more language practice outside of the classroom. For tutors, they can earn one level of certification in a semester or they can spread the requirements for a couple of semesters if they want to. They can earn up to three levels of certification and they can take credentials when they’re done as tutors.”
Tutors are called listening and speaking tutors and can earn international training certificates from the College Reading Learning Association (CRLA). There are three levels for the certificate, which is internationally recognized.
“The EIL tutors have pretty extensive training, and they also have to meet requirements to reach a level of certification. If the tutor is very diligent and completes all the requirements, he can actually earn all the certificates in three semesters. Within the tutoring program, we don’t only have certifications, but also levels of leadership. There’s a basic tutor, a tutor lead, tutor supervisor, and a tutor manager,” she added.
According to Wallace, the tutors get a breadth of experience. Aside from tutoring, they “also do TA duties if they want to achieve the higher level certificate, and they work with a teacher too to see the kinds of things they do.”
Wallace explained the process of hiring tutors includes looking at TESOL majors first to help them with their major. “But it’s not limited to TESOL majors only. Our tutors have a variety of majors. There might be a biology major with a TESOL certificate or minor. It may vary depending on who applies and what we need.
“We don’t just hire native English speakers. We actually have excellent native and non-native English speakers.”
Raylene Leslie, the EIL tutor manager, is a senior from Canada who was originally majoring in biology but switched to TESOL after being a tutor. “I started working in January 2016, and … after tutoring for a couple semesters, I switched to the TESOL major. They converted me and it was a big change. I love biology a lot, but TESOL is where I needed to be, where Heavenly Father put me.”
Leslie expressed her love working with the students, tutors, and teachers. “It’s very rewarding because I get to see both sides. As a tutor manager, I get to help tutees and tutors as well. I also work with teachers, and it’s amazing to see the progress of students.”
Eric Lam, a TESOL education senior from Hong Kong and an online EIL tutor, said he learns from teaching and becomes a better person from doing it. “I learn more about cultural awareness, how to deal with tutees, and how to be sensitive. One example was when my tutee and I were talking about families and she said, ‘I don’t like my husband.’ I was shocked. But I had to consider that her culture is more straightforward.”
Lam shared how he also learned to understand others. He said, “Some tutees may fail some tasks like turning in late homework and they can be lazy sometimes, but they’re trying. I learned that people can change, and we should not let our past experiences define who we are.”
He also shared how tutoring can be boring sometimes. “I have 20 tutees. I sit in front of the computer and meet with them every week over the semester, but it’s rewarding to see the progress they make.”
Wallace said the difference between the EIL tutoring program and the Reading and Writing Center is students set up a one-time appointment at the RWC. With EIL, students sign in for a specific tutor and meet at a set time every week of the semester. “They will build a nice rapport with each other and the tutor sees the student’s progress in the class.”
Ellen Bunker, a former English Language Teaching (ELT ) Department chair who is a church service missionary now, said she loves the atmosphere around the Language Learning Center, where the tutoring happens. “I think it’s one of the best places on campus. I love the feeling out there in the courtyard where the language tutoring is going on, and you can feel the learning and brain energy of students.”
Edmond Saksak, a freshman from Vanuatu majoring in political science, said he doesn’t talk to people unless they talk to him, but the tutoring program helps him to open up and get out of his comfort zone.
“I can see an improvement within myself,” said Saksak. “And I set a goal that I need to improve my English where it will fit my major, which is political science.”
Saksak said though the program is there to help him, he also needs to helps himself. He said, “Whenever I converse with my friends from Vanuatu, instead of speaking in our language, I speak in English. In everything I do, I see to it that I use English the most. When I listen to a general conference talks and watch movies, they’re all in English.”
The EIL tutoring sessions are a free productive service that last and hour students should make use of, said Saksak. “It’s an hour that we can be productive. Instead of scrolling through social media, I get to practice my English speaking and listening skills.”