Lesson 2 - Role of the Adult Literacy Volunteer Tutor Illinois State Library


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Max saw a flier for a literacy program that needed volunteer tutors. The flier said that with the support of program staff, Max would be able to help teach an adult how to read, how to get their citizenship, how to improve their English language skills, and how to improve their math. Max has always wanted to help people, but he did not know if he would be a good tutor. He was also worried that teaching adult literacy skills would require a huge commitment from him. Max decided to call the number on the flier and learn more about the program.

Question for consideration as you work through this lesson

What information does Max need to decide if literacy tutoring is a good match for him?

Key Point

Throughout Illinois, there are many worthwhile programs that rely on volunteers. As an adult literacy volunteer tutor, you will have the ability to connect with an adult learner on a one to one basis. However, as an adult literacy volunteer tutor, you will have many responsibilities to the adult learner and to the literacy program. This lesson will help you better understand all levels of these responsibilities and provide you with increased confidence in your ability to do the job.


  1. What expectations do adult literacy programs have of volunteer tutors?
  2. What are my responsibilities to the adult learner?


As an adult literacy volunteer tutor, you will have the opportunity to work with adult learners in a structured and supported learning environment. Your purpose is to help the adult learner reach their goals of improved literacy by helping them with their reading and writing, vocabulary, comprehension, and background knowledge about basic subjects. In order to be a successful volunteer, you do not need to be a certified teacher or even college educated. However, every adult literacy volunteer tutor needs to have the following two characteristics.

As an adult literacy volunteer tutor, you will have the following opportunities:

You can read more about Volunteer Literacy Tutors in Demystifying Adult Literacy for Volunteer Tutors: A Reference Handbook and Resource Guide, by Charlene Ball, produced by Literacy Partners of Manitoba.

Permission to link to this resource was granted by Literacy Partners of Manitoba, August 21, 2008.

It is important to note that as an adult literacy volunteer tutor, you can grow and improve by actively participating with the adult literacy agency. They will provide support through multiple learning experiences, facilitated by experts in the field of adult literacy.