FAQ – Volunteering

What commitment is expected?

There is no specific term of service required, though we prefer that tutors commit to a class for at least a full session. Most volunteers continue to tutor for several sessions, and some tutor for many years.

Will I work with a group of students or one-on-one?

A variety of opportunities are available to work with groups and/or one-on-one. A program manager will work with you to meet your preferences.

What subjects do you offer?

We offer classes for English as a Second Language, Basic Math, Reading and Writing skills, and Pre-GED Prep. We also offer Citizenship classes, Life Skills classes, and Study Skills classes. We also offer introduction to computer classes for enrolled students.

What if I need to go on vacation or will be away for a short time?

Just let your program manager know in advance. The more advance notice given, the more likely we’ll be able to find a substitute for your group. Additionally, if you’d be interested in substituting for another class, just let us know.

How long do the classes last? How often do they meet?

The classes last between 8-12 weeks depending on the center. Most classes meet twice a week (again depending on the center) and the classes last about 1½ hours. Classes meet in the mornings and evenings.

How much time per week do I volunteer?

Most of our tutors volunteer once or twice a week for an hour to an hour and a half each class.

Will I have support?

Yes. Each learning center has program managers who provide guidance and support to volunteers. Prior to tutoring, you will observe classes and attend an 8 hour training workshop to prepare you to tutor adult students. In addition, Tutor In-Services are held twice a year to provide both peer and staff support to tutors.

How do I get started?

Find the closest center near your work or home. Contact the program manager at the center or complete the volunteer form on the website. The program manager will set up a meeting time to visit the center. Observe a class. Register for and attend a tutor training workshop.

Are there other volunteer opportunities besides tutoring?

Yes! You can be part of the Trident Literacy Association volunteer team in a number of exciting ways: math and skills lab instructors, WorkKeys instructors, volunteer trainers, computer lab assistants, office helpers, or volunteers for special events.

Do I have to be able to speak another language?

No. We actually prefer tutors to only speak English. The more English students hear, the quicker they learn! Classes are taught in English. It can be a plus for tutors to speak another language for general communication purposes, but with multi-cultural classes, it’s not likely that a tutor could speak every student’s language.

What does the training include? Why is it helpful?

Training for new tutors is available on Saturdays at various times and locations throughout the year.  Be sure to check with program managers for dates and availability. The training helps orientate new volunteers to TLA and provides important information about tutoring adults, lesson planning and materials. A trainer and a program manager are part of each training session. Tutors will receive a Trident Literacy certificate at the end of the training.

How long do students stay in the program?

It varies. Some students achieve their goals quickly, and others may take longer due to lower entrance levels or changes in their personal lives. Students make quicker progress when they attend classes more frequently. Over 50% of students attend 30 hours or more per year.

What is the difference between ABE and ESL?

ABE stands for Adult Basic Education. Students in this program upgrade reading, writing, and math skills and prepare for the GED. ESL denotes English as a Second Language. This program helps international students improve their ability to speak English.

How much preparation time will I need?

It varies. At first, you will need more time until you begin to feel comfortable with lesson planning. Many tutors will spend between 30 minutes to 1 hour preparing an interactive lesson that focuses on a specific objective. Again, a little practice helps the process. Program managers will help you with resources, ideas and feedback.

Where can I volunteer?

Trident Literacy has five learning centers. Choose the one that is most convenient to your home or work. Needs and volunteer opportunities will vary from center to center.