Volunteer Orientations & Training


All Durham Literacy programs are operating online during the COVID-19 pandemic. All volunteer tutors must have internet access and a computer with a camera and microphone to be able to teach in the online environment. 

Our programs are accepting new volunteers on an as-needed basis:


  • ESOL: Our ESOL program is seeking tutors who have experience teaching ESOL. If you are interested in tutoring a class remotely at least one night a week, please contact joan@durhamliteracy.org.

  • Adult Literacy: Our Adult Literacy program is not recruiting new tutors at this time. On a case by case basis, we may be able to match former Adult Literacy tutors who completed one or more of our past trainings and who are interested in working remotely with a student (using Zoom, Google Meet, or another platform). If you are a former tutor who is interested in tutoring remotely, please contact gardy@durhamliteracy.org

  • YAP: Our YAP program is seeking volunteers who have experience with remote/online learning for our students who need one-on-one focus with reading, writing, and math skills at the intermediate academic level. Click here to learn more about volunteering with YAP

Training in our curriculum and how to use online learning tools will be provided remotely to new volunteers. Thank you for your interest!

Volunteer Orientations

We hold Volunteer Orientations in January and again in August. We highly recommend that prospective Adult Literacy and ESOL volunteers attend one Volunteer Orientation to learn about the various volunteer roles available in the coming semester, the expectations for each role, and any related training requirements. 

An orientation session may run longer than an hour depending on the number of people attending and the number of questions asked. You will also need to complete one of the following: 1) a 12-hour Adult Literacy tutor training series if you decide to work with a beginner reader in the Adult Literacy program or 2) a 12-hour ESOL tutor training series if you decide to teach or co-teach an ESOL class. Other volunteer and tutor roles do not require a full 12-hour training series - these roles include tutoring a teen or adult GED student, tutoring an adult intermediate-level reader, or serving as a greeter at our reception desk. Learn more about these roles by clicking here.


Tutor training is described below.

To sign up for an orientation, please email us at info@durhamliteracy.org.

​Adult Literacy Tutor Training & ESOL Tutor Training 

​Our Adult Literacy Tutor Training and ESOL Tutor Training are two separate training programs that are offered concurrently in different rooms. 

  • The Adult Literacy Tutor Training is required for prospective volunteers who want to teach an adult how to read and write. The majority of adult learners served in our Adult Literacy program speak English as their first (or only) language. The training will focus primarily on multi-sensory phonics instruction. 

  • The ESOL Tutor Training is required for prospective volunteers who want to teach or co-teach a group English class. The majority of ESOL learners were born in other countries and want to improve their ability to communicate in English. The training will focus on methods for teaching adults to read, write, speak, and listen in English. 


Each training series comprises 12 hours of instruction and hand-on practice designed to provide our tutors with an in-depth understanding of our respective students, the assessments we use with students, the research-based curricula they will use in their lessons, proven techniques for engaging students in active learning, and lesson planning.

We offer this training in August and January. The training takes place over two evenings and a Saturday during the course of a week (e.g., Tuesday evening (6-9pm), Thursday evening (6-9pm), and Saturday (9am-3pm)). All sessions are required. If you can't make one of the sessions, please talk to us before starting the training so that we can determine whether and how to compensate for the missed session. We might have alternative teaching opportunities that are better suited for individuals who cannot attend all three sessions (e.g., working one-on-one with an adult GED student or assisting a lead tutor in a literacy-level ESOL class). 


The training usually takes place in two large classrooms on the second floor of our building. If you have difficulty climbing stairs, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can determine whether alternative arrangements are needed.

You must sign up to attend all three days of training prior to the first day of training. Please contact us to sign up or to get more information about the orientations and training at info@durhamliteracy.org. Thank you!