Getting started as a tutor

Essential information, videos and resources for teaching reading, writing, maths and more.

Teaching reading

The materials you choose are crucial for addressing the specific needs of the student and for maintaining interest and motivation. The language experience approach uses a student’s own language and grammar to create reading materials. It is hard for the beginner student to read and comprehend at the same time so we recommend you use some of these strategies.


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Teaching writing

Writing is a complex process that often students find very daunting because it requires the co-ordination of many different skills. Writing should always focus on the student’s needs and interests – at the beginning these are often functional, for example emails, notes or forms. Prioritise the most important aspects of the writing to work on, rather than trying to ‘fix’ everything in one session. Work on handwriting should always arise from the student’s expressed needs and should not be imposed by tutors.


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Teaching spelling

When working on spelling, the emphasis should always be on ‘having a go’ rather than the correct spelling of every word. There are several approaches to learning spelling – encourage your student to try them all and find out which one works best for them. Most spelling mistakes can be categorised into five common kinds of mistakes that can be worked on individually. Learning to use a dictionary is a complex process requiring specific knowledge and regular practice so try to always include some time for dictionary work. Have some fun with games but don’t put any pressure on the student by timing or scoring.


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Teaching maths

For someone to return to education in maths is often a huge step and can be motivated by a number of factors. Research has found that learning which is not passive but active is most effective for teaching maths. The best way to find out where a student has gone wrong is to ask them how they did the task. This section will give you ideas for teaching various topics, regardless of the level your learners are working at.


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Guidelines and best practice

This section provides a key reference for people working in adult literacy and numeracy. There are five core principles for good adult literacy work. The Evolving Quality Framework is a system for improving adult basic education in Ireland. Access to high quality resources sends a clear and very positive message to students. Managers are responsible for planning, managing people and accountability in line with the values and ethos of adult basic education. Students need to be able to identify their own goals, choose from a range of tuition options and participate fully in planning their learning programme and progression. Progression is concerned with reaching personal goals and relates to all members of the literacy service.


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Planning and writing materials

Texts and materials can be drawn from a variety of sources. Include themes and exercises relevant to the students’ culture. There are a number of things you can do to help learners engage fully with the materials. When writing materials for numeracy teaching there are additional concerns to keep in mind.


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Integrating literacy

Integrating literacy support into courses makes teaching more effective as it helps develop the student’s specific literacy requirements. Teachers and trainers can plan and use methods that reduce unnecessary literacy barriers to learning the core content. Integrating literacy is not just the business of a literacy specialist but is a whole-centre approach involving all learners, managers, teachers and staff. Custom made seminars and workshops on integrating literacy in the education and training sector. Maynooth University and Waterford Institute of Technology.


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