Get Involved


Click on the the links below to learn more about how to get involved.


Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Has Washtenaw Literacy's programming been affected by concerns over COVID-19?

Answer: Yes but we continue to serve our learners virtually!  On February 14, 2022, we will resume limited in-person tutoring.  Click here for more details.  


Question: Do I need to be a teacher or know another language to be a tutor?

Answer: No!  In fact, our tutors come from all walks of life and have very diverse backgrounds.  We provide the training you will need to be a successful tutor.


Question: What makes a good tutor?

Answer: Tutors must be patient, flexible and willing to partner as an equal with an adult learner.  Tutors help learners pursue their personal goals by improving their basic skills through customized lessons.  If you are compassionate, patient, flexible and interested in helping someone else achieve their goals, tutoring is for you!


Question:  How do I get started?

Answer: The first step is to complete an “ABCs of Washtenaw Literacy”. Click here to see upcoming dates and register.  This 1-hour meeting will provide you with details on your volunteer options.  


Question: How long is the tutoring commitment?

Answer: Tutors meet with learners 1.5-2 hours per week.

  • Virtual Tutors (those working with learners over the phone or by computer) commit for 4 months.
  • Open Tutors (those tutoring at pre-determined times/locations such as our computer lab or ESL groups) have a more flexible duration of commitment.
  • Personal Tutors (those working one-on-one or in clusters) commit for 6 months.
  • Learning Lab Tutors (those providing a classroom-like learning opportunity on a specific topic) have the flexibility to determine the times and duration of the learning lab.  

Because the nature of our work is so rewarding, many tutors stay with Washtenaw Literacy for 3 years or more.


Question: What training is provided?

Answer: Washtenaw Literacy provides training, mentoring and ongoing professional development to all our tutors.  Our 4.5-hour Virtual Tutor Training is recommended for all tutors at this time but required only for Virtual Tutors.  Our 8-hour Condensed Core Tutor Training is recommended for all tutors, though it is required only for Personal Tutors.  Our trainings are very interactive and combine both research and best practices in adult education to prepare tutors for the practical realities of the work you’ll be doing.


Question: Where do tutors and learners meet?

Answer: For virtual tutoring, you and your learner(s) decide together on the best time and tutoring platform (Zoom, WhatsApp, etc.).  As of February 14, 2022, tutors and learners eligible to meet for  in-person tutoring will decide together on the best time and public location (such as a library) to meet.  


Question: What will tutoring sessions look like?

Answer: You will plan sessions to help adult learner(s) improve their skills.  The materials you use will be related to your learners’ goals and interests to increase their motivation.  For basic literacy learners, goals commonly focus on reading, writing, and math skills.  For English as a Second Language (ESL) learners, goals commonly focus on speaking, listening, and cultural understanding.  In training and through on-the-job observation, you will learn research-based methods of working with adults.  Activities may include flashcards, reading, conversation, or games like boggle.  The sky’s the limit as long as the activity helps the learner pursue their goals and improve their skills.


Question:  Do I have to turn in lesson plans?

Answer: No.  Your lesson plans are for you.  However, we do require short reports (hours, goals, activities, etc.) three times a year so that we have a record of the great work you’re doing with the learners.


Question:  What other materials and supports are provided?

Answer: We pride ourselves on the support provided to volunteer tutors!  Staff is always available to help tutors with ideas, materials, training, etc.  We also hold workshops for the professional development of our tutors which are planned by the Mentors.  The Mentors are experienced tutors who help new tutors with strategies, lesson planning, materials selection and any other tutoring needs.  We maintain a small lending library of resources at our business office.  And we offer a Slack workspace for tutors so they can share ideas, resources and successes with one another in a community of practitioners.  We’re here to help you succeed so just tell us what you need.


Question: What if I have to cancel a tutoring appointment for illness or vacation?

Answer: Everyone needs time off now and then.  As long as you notify your learner(s) ahead of time, it is no problem.  Keep in mind that learner(s) will also need to reschedule or cancel on occasion.


Question: What if the relationship doesn’t work out?

Answer: This is a common worry among new tutors but it is rarely a problem.  Adult learners are appreciative of the volunteer's time and efforts.  Tutors enjoy helping someone change their lives by improving their basic skills.  However, if there is a problem, staff will help find a better placement for you and the learner(s).


Question: How long does it take a learner to reach their goals?

Answer: It depends greatly on the learner.  What are their goals?  How far from the goals are they now?  How much time and energy are they able to devote to improving their skills?  If they have a long way to go to reach their goals, it may take them 5 years.  For other learners, they may reach their goals and be ready to move on in just a few sessions.