Thursday, April 12, 2007

Using an ESL Tutoring Contract

I use a tutoring contract with each of my ESL students. My first meeting with a student is always free. This is where I do a Needs Assessment with the student. At the end of the first meeting, usually when we are discussing payment and scheduling, I give them a copy of my contract. Depending on time constraints, we may review the contract in detail. Usually, I just point out the most important features of the ESL contract. The most important thing I want students to know is that they must give me 24-hours notice of cancellation, or they will be financially responsible for the missed lesson. I then ask the student to take home the contract and study it to see if they have any questions.

If the student comes back to me for our first lesson without having read the contract, we will go over the contract in class. This provides a learning opportunity. Of course, this is all dependent on the student’s level of English proficiency. The contract is beyond the English level of beginning students. Usually, my beginning students are accompanied by someone else (e.g., a spouse or adult child) who is able to help with the translation.

I think two really important reasons to have a contract between private tutors and students studying English as a Second Language (or any subject for that matter) is that (1) it helps to further ensure the student’s commitment to learning, and (2) it helps to protect the livelihood of the ESL tutor. Tutoring is my “full-time” profession. I set aside a particular time for each student. If the student does not show up or only gives me an hour’s notice, then I cannot replace the student with another, or otherwise make good use of that time.

I’ll post a copy of the contract I use in a future posting for your reference in writing your own ESL Contract.

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