So, you are the new German Tutor for UC Santa Cruz. Are you excited? You should be. Tutoring for LSS is a very rewarding job, both for your own Academics and your personal work experience. Why? Good question, I’m glad you asked. It is rewarding because you are able to see students come to you in the fall (or the beginning of the quarter) and grow in their understanding of the language, culture, and history of German and German speaking culture. You are able to share with them your own understanding of all those things and, if you have a familial connection, your personal story. All these things make the language come alive for the students as well as for you and you will find yourself relishing those moments where something clicks for your students or when you begin to include more German in the session because the students are more motivated to speak with you. And your own grammar will flourish, both in English and German. You will have to look closely at the structure of sentences so that you can explain the concepts that they are learning. You, by bringing your students back to the English, will be able to show them how the building blocks that they have can be extrapolated.
But, you may be saying, I will see that later… I don’t know how everything will work out. What if things don’t go well? What if I can’t connect with students? What if…? All the “what ifs” may or may not actually happen and if the worst happens, you have resources. Loads of them. You have the LSS staff, who are amazing, by the way, you have the professors themselves, you have books and readers and things that you used to learn the language and you have a wealth of knowledge that you can pull upon. Whether you are being asked about a grammar concept or simply learning strategies, you have loads of information available to you.
Now, sometimes it may be difficult. You may have a student who is only there because he or she has to be. He, I will use this pronoun for simplicity’s sake, may simply want you to give him the answers, to do his homework for him, or may not even tell you everything. You may have to pull information out of him bit by excruciating bit. And that’s okay. Because, if you pay attention closely to his work, he will get better. He will improve. Sessions may be hard, but the point is to help him, and you will. Maybe not to the same extent as another student, but remember, everyone is different.
That is rare, in my experience, because usually a student who goes through the entire process of signing up for tutoring is highly motivated. It’ll be okay. I’ll be good even. Every student will bring with them motivations and reasons for why he chooses German. Some for family reasons, some because they are Music students and need to learn German because of Bach and Beethoven and Mozart. If you figure out why everyone is learning German, you can meet them where they are.
And you know what? You will do great. You will. Believe me. I haven’t met you but you have been selected for this position and that means you got this. No matter what your accent sounds like, no matter why you learned German, you will do awesome. And if you struggle, remember that the professors are more than happy to see you in their office hours, remember that LSS staff is here to support you, remember that you did this and that you know all of it, even if some of the concepts feel so far away.
So good luck, though you won’t need it; have fun, because you will, and keep a positive outlook on tutoring. You are a teacher, but one that has just recently been where your students are so you have insights their professors don’t. Use what you have and you will be awesome.
Thank you for being the new German tutor. Thank you for joining the LSS team.