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TutorTIPs: Active Listening & Paraphrasing

Tutor Training Intensive Programs

Tutor Tips

Active Listening PowerPoint for Tutors

"How to Get Your Tutee to Talk More Than You"

What is Active Listening?

Active listening is a valuable skill for tutors to develop. Not only will it allow you to properly diagnose a students’ issues, but it will set an open, judgment-free tone for a tutoring session.

Quick Tips for Active listening:

  • Make eye contact;
  • Lean slightly toward the student;
  • Nod appropriately;
  • Respond with appropriate facial expressions;
  • Relax when you are watching the student communicate.

When a tutor listens actively, it shows students that they are important enough to have your undivided attention. Some ways to demonstrate active listening:

  • Paraphrase what the student communicated;
  • Ask questions that will lead the student to her/his own solution;
  • Offer constructive feedback rather than criticize;
  • Guide students to make appropriate choices;
  • Ask the student if there is anything else s/he can share;
  • Be sympathetic to difficult situations.

Adapted from:

When the student is done, you could follow-up with encouraging comments or ask probing questions to get a better sense of the situation.


Small group activity/Role-playing

  • Now we are going to break up into small groups
  • You will each be given a scenario to act out
  • First, you are going to demonstrate a session in which active listening skills are NOT used
  • Then, you will discuss with your partner how to incorporate active listening skills to improve your session
  • Yes, we will be acting these out for the group! Do your best; We don’t expect an Oscar-worthy performance!

Taken from the University of South Carolina Aiken Academic Success Center's Presentation on Active Listening


Active Listening