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Montreal Math Tutoring
Being a math tutor in Montreal or another multicultural city is very tricky because you have to worry about other factors than the normal factor when starting a tutoring business.
The demography of Montreal
Let’s start with the demographic situation in Montreal. In 2006, Statistics Canada listed approximately 600,000 people belonging to the visible minority group. In this group you have Chinese, people from South and Southeast Asia, Haitians, Filipinos and people from Latin America. To these people must be added the Italians (about 260,000 people), the Arabs (about 100,000 people), etc. All this in a city of 3,588,520 people. Each community comes with its own beliefs and habits, and all of this translates into a different way of thinking about the education of its children.
Being a math tutor in Montreal
This is where it all gets difficult. If you want to be a math tutor in Montreal, you need to know your student’s background. First of all, you need to know his language skills. Does he speak English, Mandarin, French, Spanish, etc. at home ? Does he go to French or English school? How long has he lived in Montreal or in Canada? Where did he live before? All of this will affect how you teach the student, as often their math problem may stem from their difficulty understanding English or French. He has very good arithmetic skills, but he doesn’t understand the problem. That’s why I like to start by, first, talking to my student just to find out their language level, and second, telling them all the synonym of a math term. For example, I will tell them that 5+5, can be 5 plus 5 equals 10, add 5 to 5, add 5 to 5, or the 5-5, can be 5 minus 5, subtract 5 from 5, etc. This very simple thing will save you a lot of time.
Once the linguistic part is settled, you will have to know his culture and how his parents think about the education of their children. For some, you don’t need to give them homework, just the fact that they do an extra hour or two of math a week is enough. For another culture, you have to give a lot of homework. It is very important to put your belief out of it. When I talk to my relatives about what I do, they all think that children need to play and that the weekend is not part of homework. It’s their right to think that, but some parents think that three hours a week to guarantee their children’s future is not so bad. Both are right if you ask me, so you shouldn’t judge or interfere.
These are just two examples of how context influences the role of the math tutor. You should be aware of this when teaching and when shopping for a tutor or tutoring center. As we always say: when teaching math, the most important variable is the children. Always start with them, their background and their goals.
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