Travel back in Time (When I was a Tutor)

Uncategorized / Sunday, March 18th, 2012
Vienna hort, after school institution
Family day at the Hort.

This blog is supposedly a travel blog, but not limited to articles about the places we’ve seen or cities we plan to visit. So today let me tell you my story, looking back to six years ago – at that time when I was still working as an English-speaker/tutor at an after-school care center or Hort. That was also when my German was so poor, that I often had to ask a colleague to translate for me. My work was to help kids in English, I prepare English activities, and I can speak comfortably with them since they are fluent in the language.

I worked in the afternoons as the name of the care center suggests, like private tutors normally would, the only difference is I am in a group of around 20 kids. Parents of those kids work at the United Nations Vienna Office. We were a multicultural and multilingual institution as the kids themselves come from parents of different backgrounds, while we as pedagogues, and tutors are as diverse. The school is just beside the Hort and is only until either 12 noon or 1 P.M., but everyone gets to eat at 1 o’clock (or a few minutes after) at the Hort.


So I would come in at 12:30 and leave around 4:30 or 5 o’clock. When I come, I’d prepare the rolling food tray, I put food in serving dishes then I arrange plates, utensils, glasses corresponding to the number of kids in attendance. I put a pitcher of water and a pitcher of tea, too, and below the tray would be a rag, an empty wash-hand basin, and a pail of water with soap and sponge. Kids are to take their food by themselves, they eat, and when finished they’d place leftovers in the basin, sponge away their table, and dry it up with a rag…yes, that’s an effective way of teaching kids “home work.”

baking at an after school insitution, hort
Baking is one of the girls’ favorite activity.

After eating, I’d take the rolling tray back to the kitchen while the kids would then start doing their book assignments. It’s so because most of these kids do not have someone at home waiting for them and they’re not supposed to go home alone. So until the time that a nanny or one of the parents pick them up, they stay with us. I would look around their English books and make a note that they’ve finished and point to them their mistakes if there are any. I don’t usually give the answer away but I ask them a question for them to see the point. I would also go over their Math books but I leave the German books to the pedagogue because how can I check them when my knowledge of the language is below the A1 level?

When home works are done, there will be a short break, more like what we know as recess. I’d serve some food, mostly apple slices and fruits in season and we’d talk and talk over just about anything. Then there’s the Freizeitaktivitäten – hobby/leisure activities which are supervised by different pedagogues and tutors. There’d be painting, baking, football and garden play or just indoor games like chess, memory cards and the likes. Kids have to register for these activities in their group so that it will be easier to know where they are during pick-up time.

net for kids, climbing net, football
climbing net, football kids

(Outdoor activities that the kids love, football and the climbing net.) (Thank goodness I always have my camera even then and now the photos come in handy. Teehee!)

Some of the kids also attend afternoon classes like Music courses; piano, violin and  guitar, others have martial arts: judo, taekwondo and kido while others have dance classes. Some of the courses were held at the school’s gym while others are outside – imagine how versatile these kids are now! I still remember the names of the kids in my group so I looked up some of them (thanks to Facebook) and saw that one  is now a cheerleader…well, she was one of those very enthusiastic dancers back then.

Working as a tutor was fun and though I am not a teacher, who I have really deep respect for, I knew the influence I have over the kids. That was why it was with a heavy heart that I left this job. The kids were crying during our last day together and so was I. The kids and I have had our odd days but we were mostly friends, we had a lot of fun. And it’s not just the camarederie and work experience that I’m grateful the end of it all I was able to speak German because the kids were so happy teaching me words and even sentences. Though I do not understood grammar rules then I could fare well in speaking the language. When I took an assessment exam, I was put in B1 class instead of A1 or A2.

If given the chance, I’d work as a tutor for kids who need help with English. Either I do it freelance with me going to a kid’s home or register online like most private tutors do. Online tutoring, so to speak, is where a teacher tutors a student via online programs. There are many types of online tutoring. Some of them are many-to-one tutoring and peer tutoring. Many-to-one is when a tutor has a group of learners given with the same instruction. Peer tutoring is when peers tutor each other.

There are pros and cons to both traditional tutoring as it is with online tutoring. Traditional tutoring is a face-to-face, in person instruction and is often held at a certain location chosen by the student, most often than not; at home. Online tutoring instruction is held on the computer, often involving multi-media devices like webcams, audio and interactive programs. The latter also makes it more flexible for both students and tutors to work on activities on their chosen time whereas the former limits them to certain hours. Traditional or online, tutoring has a big impact in a student’s life….like I said above a tutor like teachers can influence a child’s development…I’m glad I was part of those kids’.


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