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Questions and Answers for English Language Learning Students

Applying for a Tutor


We provide tutoring to adult English learners. Tutoring is usually one-on-one, but sometimes it takes place in small groups.

Our tutoring program is for students who live in Newton or Chestnut Hill and are at least 18 years old. If you live in another city or town in Massachusetts, you are welcome to participate in our group classes.

The program is free.

You can fill out the online application. Paper applications are also available at the circulation desk on the first floor of the library. We have paper applications in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and Russian.

Yes. Generally, students wait at least six months before they are contacted for an English assessment. While they are waiting, they are welcome to participate in our group classes.

Students first do an assessment, which helps us learn more about their English level and background. After they have been assessed, the coordinator works on finding an appropriate tutor for them. Matching is based on many factors, such as the student’s availability, preference for meeting in person or online, and English level.

You can make this request on the application, but we can’t guarantee that you will be matched with a tutor who speaks your language. Most of our tutors do not speak the languages that are common in our program.

Tutoring Sessions


Tutors and students typically meet once a week for 60-90 minutes. You and your tutor can decide on a schedule that makes sense.

It depends on your schedule. For example, if you only have free time in the morning, you will be matched with a tutor who also has free time in the morning. You will be asked to indicate your availability on the application.

We ask that students and tutors work together for at least nine months. Some pairs continue for years! It’s OK for you and your tutor to take vacations.

Tutors and students can meet in person or online. There are two study rooms for the ELL program on the third floor of the library. You can also meet in the study rooms on the second floor, elsewhere in the library, or in another convenient location, such as a park or a coffee shop. If meeting online, you could use Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, FaceTime, etc.

Our tutors are volunteers who are interested in helping English learners in the Newton community. They have a wide range of backgrounds. New tutors are trained before being matched with a student.

Each lesson is different because we offer tutoring for students with various levels and goals. Lessons focus on what each individual student needs and wants to learn. You should talk to your tutor about why you want to improve your English and what you are interested in studying.

Talk to the coordinator about the situation. Most students and tutors work well together, but sometimes a change is necessary.

We understand that people’s lives change. You might move, change jobs, have children, or simply get too busy to continue meeting with a tutor. In that case, please tell your tutor and the coordinator as soon as possible.

Group Classes


Yes. We offer a variety of group classes, both in person and online. Some require registration, while others are “drop-in” (no registration required). There are four sessions per year.

Students who live in Massachusetts can participate in our group classes. You need to live in Newton to have a tutor.

In-person classes usually meet on the third floor of the library. Online classes meet on Zoom.

Classes take place in the morning, afternoon, or evening and meet once a week. You can find the current schedule on the ELL page or the library calendar.

Classes are taught by volunteers or the program coordinator.

Classes that require registration usually have between 5 and 12 students. Drop-in classes are typically larger (10 to 20 students), but the size can vary from week to week.

We offer classes on many topics. Some examples of past classes are: American Culture and Your Children, Preparing for U.S. Citizenship, Let’s Talk about Food, Understanding Idioms, Beginning Grammar, and Everyday Life in the United States. There are also conversation classes without a specific focus.

There is no cost. All classes are free.

You can find detailed information about our current classes on the ELL page or the library calendar. For some classes, you need to register online. For drop-in classes, just come to the third floor of the library (if the class is in person) or email the coordinator for the Zoom link (if the class is online).

General Information


Yes. You are welcome to borrow books and other resources from the ELL collection on the third floor of the library. (You will need a library card. If you don’t have one, you can get one for free.) Recommended online resources to practice English are here.

There are over 225 active tutors and over 250 active tutees. There are also other students who attend classes without having a tutor or while on the waiting list.

Andrew Shapira’s regular schedule is Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. His office is on the third floor of the library, near the ELL collection. You can reach him at 617-796-1364 or newtonell@minlib.net.