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Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe



Second chance school : tutoring for fostering language learning

by Olivier Ferron
Language: EN
Document available also in: FR




The Second Chance school of Tours (Loire valley, France) welcomes young adults (from 18 to 30 years old), without any diploma and who left the education system for more than a year. The aim of this school is the construction of a professional project, the acquisition of basic skills or finding qualifying training. It focuses on a sustainable entry into employment.

 Planned to review the basics of English grammar and vocabulary, the English lesson is an important moment for young adults in that school. It has nothing to do with a lecture. It is more about a set of ludic activities mainly based on the practice of the oral. They make it possible to de-dramatize the relationship between young people and language. Often the "trainees" (name given to the young people in training within the E2C) have a lack of confidence in themselves. The trainer (named Souad) nonetheless tries to make them cross the gap of the fear of speaking in public. The goal is to be able to reinvest these skills in the professional field.

The richness of the groups of trainees lies in their individual journeys and experiences. Each one of their stories of life, their experiences, their identities can bring a wealth to others. This is precisely the case of Marcia who is trilingual (Portuguese, English and French) and Joëlle who is bilingual (English and French). One is of Portuguese and the other is Caribbean. They have been practicing English for many years. They are like “engines” for the group. The trainer can therefore rely on their good skill in English to help the other trainees in their activities.

The trainer knows that she will be able to count on the two trainees to start speaking. Being more comfortable with the use of the language they will lead the group to speak easily.

"The instructions are clear, we help other trainees to formulate the sentences, correct themselves when there are mistakes but we do not give the answers instead of them" says Joëlle. The trainer makes sure to encourage tutoring within her group, by forming couples with a strong element and a weaker element. "It tends to pull the others to a higher plateau," admits Souad, but it is important to understand that the trainee doesn't replace the trainer. This practice is quite the same as the tutoring they can observe especially in companies.

So, when comes the moment to organize a little game of riddles to discover a famous character, Marcia comes to help his colleagues to elaborate the questions. Tutoring is coming in a natural way. No filter, no sense of master-student relationship, but a real match between the tutor and the "tutored". Tutoring makes sense when we talk about a heterogeneous group with some trainees who have shortcomings in French and also in English. Marcia arrived in France in December 2015 and she admits that she does not speak a "very good French". Her major difficulty is to deal with French grammar. French is "a difficult language " and she wants to understand how the language works in order to be able to use conjugation in the right way. Marcia feeds on current French expressions and her colleagues from the most common English expressions.

To conclude, the two students loudly proclaim: "Everyone is moving forward at the same time." Then, the trainees enter into a win-win relationship. Everyone feeds on the story, the experience and the identity of the other. This makes it possible to grow together by inspiring each other. Tutoring becomes a pillar of solidarity and the building of everyone skills. The school is particularly keen on defending these values. They can be exploited on a daily basis for the persons and their future in employment.

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