3 Structure Multilingual Tutoring Sessions

As a multilingual tutor, you will want to carefully consider the ways in which you structure multilingual sessions.  When students are learning new academic content at the same time as they are still working to learn their second language, the following approach may be helpful:

  1. Assess the student’s knowledge and thought processes
    • Provide input in the student’s home language
    • Encourage the tutee apply the concept using learning activities
    • Ask open-ended questions to confirm the tutee’s understanding of the concept
    • Ask the student to explain the concept to you in their own words
  1. Introduce the vocabulary that the students need to know to understand and apply the content using English
    • Introduce the new words
    • Encourage tutees to develop a strategy for remembering new vocabulary
  1. Work through learning activities in English
    • Ask the tutee to explain the concept in their own words in English, or summarize the concept they have learned in the session so far
    • Practice identifying and defining key terms in problems
    • Ask the student to look at problems, and explain the task they are being asked to complete. Some students may lose marks because they have not had sufficient practice comprehending and responding to questions similar to those they will encounter on tests and exams.
    • Ask the tutee to summarize their learning in English

The L2-L1-L2 Model

Another model for multilingual tutoring is known as L2-L1-L2 instruction.  In this model, the new concept is first introduced in English (the L2), as the tutor works with the tutee to assess their current knowledge. When areas requiring input or support are identified, the tutor then switches languages, explaining the concepts in the tutees L1 in order to facilitate clear understanding.  Most tutees will be more able to respond to critical questioning and display their reasoning more clearly in their L1.  However, to ensure that the tutee can also respond using the course language, the session then includes some further work in English (L2), to ensure that the tutee can effectively complete course requirements and demonstrate their knowledge in their L2.

By thinking clearly about your language choices when working with tutees, you will be able to balance the benefits of using multilingualism as a resource for learning, with supporting the student as they develop the English knowledge they will need for their courses.

Structuring Multilingual Sessions Quiz

Complete the quiz below to test your knowledge of the L2-L1-L2 session structure.



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