Paul Conlon began working with his learner, Livingstone, in 2016. Paul was a retired teacher who had worked with children for more than 30 years, but was admittedly a bit apprehensive about working with an adult. He quickly learned that adult learners like Livingstone are often highly motivated to learn.
Favorite Lesson: The Airport
One of their favorite lessons involved preparing Livingstone for navigating the airport in advance of a trip. The two learned airport vocabulary and then took a field trip to the airport where they were able to talk with the airport staff. Livingstone was less nervous after this lesson, and more than ready to successfully navigate the airport on his own.
Proudest Moment: Citizenship Success
Regarding their proudest moment as a pair, Paul said that would have to be Livingstone getting his citizenship. The two studied American history and civics until Livingstone felt ready for the test. It was a cause for celebration for the pair, and both of them felt they had learned a lot. As Paul was not previously a fan of American history, he was able to learn a lot about citizenship alongside his learner. Paul found it funny and exciting that Livingstone began actively asking questions about current politics and how this related to what he had learned.
Navigating as an English Language Learner
Like many tutors, Paul is seeing the world through his learner's eyes. He reports having a new understanding of how difficult it can be to be a new arrival in the United States. Through their conversations in tutoring, Paul learned that Livingstone been prey to scams that target English language learners. The two of them have discussed how to handle these situations and to be more critical of what Livingstone or others may encounter.
Advice for Potential Tutors
Paul likes to encourage others to tutor at the Literacy Center because he has found it to be such a rewarding experience.
"Tutoring kind of gives you a feeling that you're helping - that you're contributing to the community. I think if you can help someone with their daily needs, that's something good for everyone."
To sign up for tutoring, or to learn more about volunteering with the Literacy Center, visit www.literacycenterwm.org/volunteer.