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New Peer Tutoring at Glenalmond College

Published Thursday 3rd of March 2011 04:13:23 PM

Glenalmond College has introduced an innovative programme of peer tutoring to ensure that its international pupils are able to integrate fully into the School.

About 16% of Glenalmond pupils are from overseas, including a number from expatriate families. 10% are from Europe, 5% from SE Asia and 1% from North and South America. Although a relatively low proportion of Glenalmond pupils have English as a second language, they are fully supported by a thriving English as an Additional Language (EAL) department, ensuring the College is well-placed to look after its overseas pupils. This new initiative further enhances their care.

The programme provides each of the overseas pupils with a UK pupil peer tutor, generally just a year or two older, aiming primarily to help them improve their English grammar and to understand the nuances of the language. However, the support provided by the pupil tutors in many cases extends further, including help both with the technical language of certain subjects and the subject matter.

Annie, a fifth-form pupil from China, has a good command of English, but her pupil tutor is able to help her understand the technical terms in the subjects she is learning. �If I learn a new word in a subject, I can look it up in the dictionary; but I may not have learnt that word in Chinese before I came to Scotland, so I need some help in understanding it.� Philipp, a fourth form German student benefiting from the scheme, said that his peer tutor Andrew (in lower-sixth) was able to help him both in dedicated lesson time and in the boarding house, when they were completing their homework.

The benefits for the overseas pupils are clear � their English language improves and they are better able to mix with the rest of the School and less likely to find the language a barrier to their learning. But gains are also significant for the pupil peer tutors. Mostly sixth formers helping younger students, they gain from the sense of responsibility and their confidence grows as a result. As Fern, one of the lower sixth-form tutors explained �It is really rewarding to see the pupils improve. It is also a confidence boost for us to know that we are able to help them in subjects we learnt a few years ago. It�s good for our own revision!�

British pupils who take on the role of peer tutor can also use this experience to meet the criteria of the Duke of Edinburgh Award �skill� requirement and will have a head-start if they choose to teach English as an additional language during gap year travels before University.

Teacher Michelle Gardner feels that it is a scheme which helps all involved. �I have been pleased with the commitment shown by the British pupils who act as peer tutors, whilst improvements that the overseas pupils have seen in their grasp of more complicated aspects of English grammar as a result of the help provided by their peers are so clearly evident.�
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