Vita Education Services has a long history of delivering free instruction to adults through well-trained, volunteer tutors. Volunteer opportunities include: Basic Literacy or English as a Second Language tutoring; serving as an ESL/Basic Literacy Classroom Aide; or in our Decisions program as a Decisions For Living tutor.
Our tutor trainings provide techniques that will help you become an effective tutor and our professional staff provides ongoing support as you work with your students.
The students in Adult Basic Education (ABE) classes come from a variety of backgrounds and have a wide range of skills. The majority of Vita’s ABE students are not native English speakers; however, they usually are able to speak and understand basic conversational English. Their difficulty lies in reading and writing, particularly with more complex material. Volunteer tutors work with these ABE students individually and in small groups, helping them learn to read and understand progressively more complex material and to communicate effectively in writing. A Basic Literacy tutor may or may not have prior teaching experience.
English as a Second Language (ESL)
Vita’s ESL tutoring program helps adults who need to learn to speak English or wish to improve their English proficiency. It is not necessary to speak another language. Volunteer tutors work with these ESL students in small groups from Beginning to High Intermediate levels practicing the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing to effectively communicate in English for everyday situations in authentic contexts. These contexts include pre-employment and work situations, accessing community resources, achieving citizenship skills, and preparing for post-secondary training and education. Instruction is student-centered and contextualized. An ESL tutor may or may not have prior teaching experience.
Basic Literacy and ESL
• Training provides tutors with an understanding of the adult learner, the techniques of effective tutors, and the responsibilities of a Vita volunteer. After training, tutors are individually interviewed and matched with a student learning group. Some tutoring groups meet in-person, while others meet remotely.
• Requirements: Pennsylvania Adult Basic Literacy Education regulations require that Basic Literacy and ESL tutors have a college degree. All tutors must have good communication skills, cell phones and email, and have the ability to follow and print out pre-written lesson plans. Vita asks that tutors commit to a minimum of three hours of tutoring per week for a 12 to 14 week period of time. In addition, tutors must complete the Criminal Background checks and Child Abuse Clearance prior to starting their assignment.
• Support: Vita provides curriculum materials and lesson plans that focus on the accomplishment of specific sets of skills. Ongoing support is provided by Vita’s tutoring coordinators.
ESL/Basic Literacy Classroom Aides work with our professional teaching staff by providing additional support for small groups or individuals within the classroom. Teaching staff will provide guidance and materials for the classroom aide to use with our adult learners.
• Training provides classroom aides with an understanding of the adult learner, techniques for tutoring, and the responsibilities of a Vita volunteer. After training, classroom aides are individually interviewed and assigned a classroom teacher.
• Requirements: Qualified volunteers must have a High School or High School Equivalency Diploma and be at least 18 years old. They need to be willing to work under the guidance of the classroom teacher and commit to volunteering at least once a week, for 2.5 hours each week for 12 to 14 consecutive weeks. Classroom aides must complete the Criminal Background checks and Child Abuse Clearance prior to starting their assignment.
• Support: Materials and instructions for the day’s work will be provided by the classroom teacher. The teachers and tutor coordinators will provide ongoing support.
Decisions For Living (DFL) tutors work one-to-one with inmates in the Bucks County Correctional Facilities, teaching a process that emphasizes self-awareness, personal responsibility, critical thinking, and goal setting. DFL provides inmates with tools to help them reintegrate more effectively into the community upon release.
• Training: A 10-hour classroom training, plus supplemental video training, and an orientation to the Bucks County Correctional Facility, which may be conducted remotely over Zoom. The training provides tutors with an overview of the DFL course, methods of effective tutoring, and the responsibilities you have as a Vita volunteer. After training, tutors are individually interviewed. The tutor’s availability and personal interests are used to place a tutor with a client.
• Requirements: Tutors must be at least 21 years of age. Bucks County Corrections regulations require that tutors have a Criminal Background Check demonstrating no criminal justice system involvement in the last two years. Vita asks that our tutors commit to a minimum of two hours of tutoring per week for a six to eight week period of time.
• Support: The Decisions For Living Facilitator’s Manual is provided in the training to guide you in teaching the course. Tutor-client matches are supervised and supported by Vita staff.
Tutoring at BCCF is currently suspended.