The best teachers are constant learners. In line with that axiom, an enthusiastic group of tutor recruits joined together to start their summer at our New Tutor Training in late May. For two evenings, they surveyed the landscape of ESL, from cultural identity to vowel sounds, with dialogues, idioms, and past participles in between. Good ideas, good questions, and good conversation flowed between the trainers and their mentees, as is true of the best classrooms. Now, the ‘graduates’ are translating their new skills into action.

Alan Kim has jumped right in as co-teacher of an academic writing class this summer. It’s an opportunity to apply his English major along with insights he gained from the training. “I realized you have to confirm that your students really understand,” he reflects. “It’s not simply asking, “Do you understand?” Instead, the question is, can they apply it? It’s about understanding your learners and finding ways to help them make progress.

The trainers, like the tutors, offer their time and rich knowledge as volunteers themselves, investing a wealth of experience as well as hours of prep time. Carol Pollard and Nicholas Doyle, members of Mid-State’s training group, teamed up to deliver this summer edition of the two-part workshop.

Carol Pollard is no stranger to Mid-State or the nuances of the English language. After retiring as a Professor of English with a doctorate in Renaissance Literature, she taught a term in Russia. When she returned home, she looked for another opportunity to use her time and skills. “I like teaching (and learning about) English and want to help people integrate into our society. I like hearing about their cultures.” At Mid-State, she found a home and has continued here for the past 12 years, teaching the wildly popular Grammar & Vocabulary class and now serving on the training team that equips new volunteers.

Nicholas Doyle is also putting his extensive knowledge of language and teaching into practice. As a PhD candidate in Applied Linguistics, he has also served as a volunteer teacher at Mid-State and then joined the training team. He is now focusing on developing trainer workshops this summer to further enhance the trainings. And so the learning continues, a continuous process at every level. To all of our teachers, tutors, students, and trainers, thank you, and onward!

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