Become a Volunteer Adult Literacy Tutor in Illinois Illinois State Library

Would you like to help someone by volunteering as an adult literacy tutor?

There are adults across Illinois who need your help to improve their reading, writing, or math. There are also newcomers to the United States who need your help learning the English language.

Adult literacy learners and English language learners are of all ages, all races, both genders, and all economic and social backgrounds. For some reason, they did not achieve the literacy skills they needed before adulthood. They may have been ill during childhood, they may have an undiagnosed learning disability, or they may have had a difficult home situation that interfered with their learning. English language learners don’t speak, read and/or write English well, although they may or may not be literate in their own language. But volunteer tutors do not need to speak another language because tutoring is done in English.

What does it take to be a volunteer adult literacy tutor?

It takes creativity, flexibility, organizational skills and patience. And it takes training. Before you begin tutoring, you will learn through tailored trainings about adult learners, their instructional needs, what resources and supports are available to you as a tutor and other important issues. In training, your particular questions will be answered.

Listen to what past adult learners have said about tutoring:

"In my country, having a tutor is a privilege that only rich people have."

"It’s hard to admit that you don’t know how to read. My son helps me with my homework now…Isn’t that something? He’s only 11 and he sits at the table with his old man and makes sure I complete my work…he doesn’t want me to get in trouble like he does if his homework isn’t done."

"It’s really interesting to have the opportunity to develop a friendship with people of other cultural backgrounds and to participate within their friendship spheres and to know their world through interacting…With a tutor, there is more time to work on the exact pronunciation of words. Interacting in the American culture helps me to practice my English and if I say something incorrectly, I can be corrected."

"I get really nervous around people because they talk so fast. You [the volunteer] don’t. You explain things so I can understand them."

Find a program that needs volunteer adult literacy tutors:

Contact the Illinois Adult Learning Hotline or find a program near you in the Guide to the Secretary of State Literacy Effort.