Project SPELL


Project SPELL, Students for Progress in Employee Language Learning, is a support service for UCLA employees who are non-native English speakers.

This program matches UCLA employee learners with student volunteer tutors to accomplish English language learning goals as expressed by the learners.

Where do you fit in? As a volunteer tutor, you will deliver personalized lessons to one UCLA employee, twice a week throughout the academic quarter. You let us know what your schedule is like, and we will pair you with someone who fits that schedule and your experience. We will provide you with all the support you need: training sessions, ample teaching resources, and a flourishing peer network. From this experience, you will develop critical teaching and communication skills while building a mutually beneficial relationship with a vital member of the UCLA community.

For additional questions, email


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Project SPELL Learner Video

Project SPELL Tutor Video

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I’ve heard that this is a competitive opportunity. What can I do to make my application stand out?
Priority will go to students and recent grads with experience and or training in language teaching. Indicating language learning experience on your tutor application will also make you a more competitive candidate.

Can I tutor with Project SPELL even if I don’t speak Spanish?
Definitely! Project SPELL learners speak a variety of first languages but our goal is to encourage each person to venture out of their comfort zone and speak more English.

How many hours do I have to commit when I join Project SPELL?
We promise every learner 16 hours of tutoring each quarter. We recommend tutors factor in an additional estimated 4-8 hours of lesson prep time per quarter. Also, tutors are required to attend an orientation, three mandatory workshops, and a program completion party.

How many learners will I tutor?
You will be matched with one learner. By working with the same learner throughout the quarter, you can accommodate your learner’s needs and goals with more understanding. Also, you will gain greater satisfaction as you watch your learner progress and grow throughout the quarter.

How do I know if I’m tutoring my learner in the right way?
Since tutors are asked to personalize tutoring to fit their learner’s needs, teaching approaches vary. Return tutors address this issue in the workshops through discussion and past experiences.

What is a typical tutoring session like in SPELL?
With Project SPELL, you’ll find that there is no mandatory curriculum to follow. Instead, we provide you with a strong support system to guide you through your tutoring sessions. Since our learners range in level and ability, tutors typically get to know their learners individually and work together to improve their learner’s skills.

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“Growing up in a family whose first language wasn’t English made me realize how hard it could be to live in a country where you can’t understand what is going on around you. With Project SPELL, I have been able to reach out to help someone who cannot speak English to better their skills. It has enriched my life to see real-life improvement in my learner. Project SPELL not only changes the lives of the people who seek help, but also the people who help them.”
JOANNE KANG, Cognitive Science Major

As a Physiological Science major joining Project SPELL, I was unsure of my tutoring abilities. However, my experience in Project SPELL has strengthened my abilities to teach and communicate. I have found Project SPELL to be a rewarding experience, both for myself and also for the learners that I have worked with. Project SPELL is a very inspiring and supportive community to be a part of at UCLA, I encourage other people to apply! This has definitely been one of the highlights of my experience at UCLA, and has broadened my perspective for what life is like as a non-native speaker.
NATALIE SLAMA, Physiological Science

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Project SPELL has been one of the most fulfilling activities that I have been lucky enough to partake in during my time at UCLA. It has completely revolutionized the way I view volunteering. I never thought that, as a volunteer, I could help improve the livelihood of a UCLA employee through ESL tutoring; but it takes only one person to make a huge impact with this program. Working with these employees has truly been a privilege–they are driven, enthusiastic, and endlessly appreciative. I walk away from my tutoring sessions feeling gratified each time, and content in knowing that my time went to a wonderful, deserving cause. I would highly recommend this Project SPELL to all who are interested. You will not be disappointed!
QUYEN BACH, Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology

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Student Committee of Project SPELL

The Student Committee of Project SPELL is responsible for promoting connections between students within Project SPELL as well as across campus. Learn More >>

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Project SPELL is not currently accepting tutor applications. The best way to know about future application deadlines is by subscribing to the UCLA Volunteer Center’s newsletter or following Project SPELL on Instagram and Facebook. Contact Program Director Stephanie Youngblood at, or the Student Committee of Project SPELL at with any questions.

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Related stories for Project SPELL
Project SPELL Volunteer Spotlight: Marissa Mayeda
Project SPELL, a free tutoring service for UCLA employees, loves to acknowledge individuals who advocate, work hard, and dedicate themselves to the program, which is why we chose to celebrate Project SPELL’s 2015-16 President, Marissa Mayeda –› read more
Posted on December 7, 2015  |   Source: UCLA Volunteer Center
2015 – 2016 Student Committee of Project SPELL
Student Committee of Project SPELL Overview Project SPELL Overview Marissa Mayeda – President Marissa a fourth-year Psychobiology major and has been a part of Project SPELL for three years. Project SPELL has truly brought joy and new perspective to her college experience and life. She is confident that all of you will –› read more
Posted on October 13, 2015  |   Source: UCLA Volunteer Center
2014 – 2015 Student Committee of Project SPELL
Student Committee of Project SPELL Overview Project SPELL Overview Nhu Phong – President Nhu Phong is a fourth-year Biochemistry major who has been volunteering with Project SPELL since Fall 2013. She is passionate about contributing to the UCLA community and its employees as a SPELL tutor. She likes coordinating and –› read more
Posted on November 3, 2014  |   Source: UCLA Volunteer Center
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