Blog Tutors Tutoring Tips 5 Tips For Working With Expat Kids From Diverse Backgrounds

5 Tips For Working With Expat Kids From Diverse Backgrounds

As a tutor in Singapore, you will come across various groups of students. Singapore is a place with a thriving economy, which means that there are a lot of expats living here. Many of these expats come from countries such as Japan, China and Thailand. As such, some of your expat students may not know a lot of English. This is just one snag you may hot when tutoring expat kids.

You may think that tutoring requires the same approach, regardless of who the students are. This may not be entirely true. You have to tailor your tutoring approach a bit to your expat students to get them on board before you can proceed to treat them the same as your other students. So, when tutoring expat students from different backgrounds, these are 5 tips that you can use to make working with them easy and fun.

1. Never Assume A Child Has Learned A Basic Skill In A Previous Year

Some children may have skipped entire years in school for one reason or another. Some expats may be from countries experiencing civil unrest or war, and this may have hindered them from attending school on a regular basis. As such, when you start tutoring expat kids, do not assume that they know all the basic skills.

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A child may be having some difficulty with simple spellings because they never actually learned the basics of spelling. Assess their skill levels before you start proper tuition sessions with them. This lets you know what year they are supposed to be in and allows you to plan your lessons optimally to help them learn.

Assuming that they already know the basics is unprofessional and will start both you and your students on the wrong foot for the rest of your tuition sessions.

2. Form A Positive Relationship With Their Parents

Make the child’s parents like you. Forming a positive relationship with the parents puts both them and their children at ease with you. If the parents do not understand English very well, learn a few words of their own language.

Make them understand that you are there to do your best to help your child succeed academically. They should know that they can trust you, especially since most expats are a bit hesitant about trusting strangers.

Creating a good relationship with the parents goes a long way in getting the child to trust you too. A trusting child is a comfortable child, and a comfortable child is more open to learning.

3. Watch Out For Complex English

It is much easier for a child to get the hang of a language orally than in written form. Your students may speak fluent English, as they have been taught in school, but their writing may be poorly developed.

Look out for signs of complex English in your students. If they seem to speak fairly well, but write as if they are translating directly from their own language, then they have a problem with complex English levels. Try to create lesson plans where you can address this problem if it exists. Also, do note that this problem may not occur in just the English lessons.

Check out how well they write in other subjects as well. Then take steps to improve their English skills to the level they are supposed to be.

4. Always Ask, Never Assume

Curiosity is not a bad trait in anybody. It shows that there is something that interests you that you don’t know much about. When tutoring expat kids, always ask for clarification on certain things they do or say that you do not understand. Do not assume that they are ignorant or being rude, or that they are trying to be truants.

Your students may come from a different cultural and ethnic background as you, and as such may have norms and values that are different from what you are familiar with. If they do anything that seems weird or strange to you, ask them about it.

Knowing more about your expat students puts you in a better position to meet their needs without either of you feeling awkward about anything.

5. Understand That You Can Never Fully Understand The Pressure And Struggles Of A Young Immigrant Student

As long as you haven’t been in a position of being a young person in a strange and new country, you cannot identify with what your expat students go through. Being in this situation can cause mental, social, and emotional issues for your students.

Trying to empathize may not go over well with them. Rather, let them know that they can trust you to be patient and kind. They should be able to confide in you, letting you know what problems they are having with adjusting to your method of teaching or the subject matter. Be understanding and be patient, and in no time you will have expat students who are comfortable with you, fully participating during lessons, and acing their tests with flying colours.

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Tutoring expat kids may seem like a chore, but it really isn’t.

These tips will help you to tutor them in the best possible way. Adopting a ‘kids are the same everywhere’ tutoring approach may not work well when it comes to expat kids, who come from diverse backgrounds. Take note of their skill level before planning your lessons. Do not assume that they have the basic skill and them go on from there.

Foster a friendly relationship with your student’s parents. This will put the students at ease and assure the parents that you have their best interests at heart. Assess their English skills. This will let you know if they write as fluently as they speak or not. Always ask questions about things you don’t understand. You can learn from the students just as they are learning from you.

Lastly, you may not truly know what it is like to be an expat, but you can make an effort to understand where they are coming from and what they are going through. Be patient with them, and encourage them as they learn from you. They will be more comfortable and adapt easily this way.

For more tutoring tips to help you excel as an expat tutor, you can check out these articles:

Six Reasons to being an Expat tutor in Singapore
How Tutors Can Use Concept Mapping To Assess Their Students

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.