Q & A with Kelly Perutelli
Kelly Perutelli is a writer, a social worker, and a volunteer tutor with the Literacy Center of West Michigan. Since May 2017, Kelly has met each week with her learner, Idalmis, to work on specific goals like conversation skills, workplace literacy, and community involvement. Kelly agreed to share her experiences as a tutor, with the hope of encouraging others to step into this role.
What were some of the fears or concerns you had before being matched with a learner?
Initially, I was somewhat concerned that not being fluent in my learner’s primary language would make it more difficult for me to instruct her. Although this was a challenge, in the beginning, I tried to focus on the fact that however small her steps were toward success, she made progress with every session. Moving forward with our education efforts is all we can do.
What's been your favorite kind of tutoring session?
My favorite tutoring session was when my learner became confident enough to start having conversations with me in English about our lives, and so we began sharing all of our international traveling experiences with each other.
What was your proudest moment as a tutor?
I have felt very lucky working with the adult learner I was placed with through the Literacy Center. She is very intelligent and eager to learn which makes it an enjoyable experience. It seems that we learn a lot from each other during every session and I believe a strong friendship has developed between us. One of my proudest moments as a tutor was when my learner finally began pronouncing certain sounds correctly and flung her hands into the air with triumph at hearing herself say the words aloud. I think this is an important step for the learner’s confidence.
How has tutoring changed the way you see or interact with our community?
Being an English tutor has certainly changed the way I positively interact with the community. This experience has put into perspective for me just how difficult it must be for so many foreign language speakers in America to survive and succeed in the workplace, at home, and in their school's environments. I realized that I had taken for granted the early education I received regarding the English language because it is such a privilege to speak and understand it, especially within the United States. It has been so rewarding for me to teach someone else who wants to learn.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about tutoring?
Tutoring is a great way to give back to the community and to learn about yourself and your upbringing, values, and education. You will without a doubt learn a lot about yourself in the process of teaching someone else.