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Learning Center.

Welcome to the Mentor and Mentee Learning Center

Strategies for Communicating with English Language Learners and Low Literacy Mentees

If your mentee is an English Language Learner, or a low literacy student, below are some tips for communicating with them. You can also download the tips with this link

When speaking over the phone, video, or in-person:

  • Be sure to enunciate and slow down when speaking
  • Use facial expressions and body language
  • Avoid challenging vocabulary or slang.
  • Try not to group multiple thoughts/questions into one sentence.
  • Provide space and time between responses so your mentee has time to process and craft a sentence.
  • If your mentee doesn’t respond, ask “Did you understand what I said? Do you want me to repeat or rephrase what I said?”
  • Try using online tools like Google Translate or image searches to help with communication. 
  • Get to know your mentee’s background, cultures, and customs. This can assist in fostering mutual understanding and recognizing cultural differences.


When Communicating Online:

  • When asking your mentee a question, physically separate them from other thoughts (i.e., via paragraph break, bolding, underlining, numbering related questions,).
  • Acknowledge any growth you observe outright, even if it seems small
  • Model English writing
  • Write messages you are confident your mentee can understand
  • Don’t hesitate to use challenging vocabular words- just be sure to define them! Establish a consistent system for including definitions so that your mentee can easily process this, such as having the definition in parentheses following the word.
  • Avoid slang and/or idioms
  • If you are having trouble understanding your mentee’s message try reading it aloud. This can be helpful if a mentee is spelling phonetically or mistakenly used a world that sounds similar but means something different.