A lot of our young people who have been in the UK a while will learn best through talk.

As you will see in the pages on reading and writing, talking before any task about how it relates to their own experience, the context and the vocabulary used is vital.

Often reading books sent home in primary school or texts set in secondary school will not necessarily have much relevance to their lives. So engaging them through images, joint research on google or YouTube and making links with their own experiences and interests will really help.

It’s also tempting as a mentor to over help when someone is struggling. It is much better to ask them what they do know and work on that, even if it is small, rather than exposing the young person to too much information that swamps them (and you!)

Choosing one thing to focus on in order to make progress is the best way forward- even if this is one sound that they get wrong when reading, or using capital letters in the wrong place.

Keeping a notebook/ diary of what you do each week can also help to make sure you both revisit past learning. For example, test on vocabulary learnt before, or ask them to recall a strategy they used to help navigate a difficult text rather than telling them again.

For young people who are new to English, starting as basic as needed is vital- they may be surrounded by vocabulary and tasks at school that they really do not understand, and showing them, for example through diagrams of their daily routine how the past tense works, would really help.

Remember with language learning you need to repeat it a lot, in different ways, to remember it. Some can learn aurally, others need it written down. Leaving post its on the wall to revise from is always a good idea!

Resources for teenagers learning English are not easy to find but we do have graded readers, can order grammar books and can advise you on websites- always ask!

For those who have not yet learnt to read in English, see the page on phonics and ask us for resources- it is actually quite easy to learn how to teach it!


your aim is to make your mentee independent, not dependent on you.

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