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How to be an Effective Writing Tutor

Updated on January 23, 2011

Writing is a very important skill. Even in the age of texting and quick messages, the ability to convey your thoughts in written form remains essential. An inability to express yourself well may hinder your career and personal life. When children, adults and students of English as a second language struggle with the basics of writing, they may turn to a tutor.

A writing tutor helps students in many varied ways. A writing tutor might work on mastery of essential conventions with a young child just beginning to read and write. A writing tutor will also work with older students who want to write college essays and do well on standardized written English tests.

If you are thinking of becoming a writing tutor there are several ways you can prepare yourself and your students to meet all their needs.

The first thing you should do is brush up on your own understanding of grammar and English vocabulary. Books such as The Little, Brown Handbook and The Elements of Style are excellent reference sources. If you don't remember exactly how to use apostrophes or what a predicate is, the former is a useful refresher course. The Elements of Style is one of the touchstones of modern English writing. The writers offer a specific set of instructions designed to convey to writers of all skill levels how best to tell the world what they think.

Both books also offer instructions that the writing tutor can use to create effective lesson plans. A writing tutor might work for a tutoring service or private clients. If you work for a tutoring service, the service will often provide you with sample lesson plans. Each lesson plan can be modified to suit an individual's needs. If you are working as a private tutor, you can find dozens of lesson plans online and in educational textbooks to guide your students.

By far the most important thing you can do as as writing tutor is to focus on the needs of your individual students. Most writing tutors work both with individual students and on a one on one basis. The writing tutor should carefully assess the skill level of his students. Each student should provide several initial samples of work. The initial sample will allow you to determine where the student's strengths and weaknesses lie. Each writing sample should be at least a page in length unless the student is just a beginner. In that case a simple paragraph should give you a rough estimate of their skills.

A writing tutor should also provide students with ongoing feedback. If you are working for a tutoring service, this may be part of your contract. If you are working with individual clients, it is important to develop your own system. The system should take into account the student's needs. Use pens of varying colors to provide different types of feedback. For example, a yellow pen might be used to indicate problems with basic conventions. Purple ink might indicate praise. Red might indicate where a sentence could be better phrased.

Students should also be encouraged to read as much as possible. Writers are often readers. Good writers truly adore a well written story. Effective writing teaches students how to write well. The student can examine each sentence carefully and discuss how the writer is able to convey his thoughts to an audience. A writing tutor should always be on the lookout for books that are easy to understand and well written.

As a writing tutor, you want to help students develop not only writing skills, but a true love of writing as well. By providing appropriate feedback, helpful encouragement and a sense of joy, you can help any student truly unlock their inner writer.

A Writing Tutor can use Reading to Teach Writing

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