Communicating with tutors: seeking clarification

time to complete: 10 minutes

If you don’t understand what your tutor is saying to you, feel free to ask them to clarify or elaborate. Leaving your meeting with unanswered questions isn’t a good idea, so don’t be shy. Your tutors are there to support you, but make sure you seek their help in a polite manner. As you can see from the examples below, you need to be as specific as possible in your questions:

  • You mentioned earlier that. Do you mean…? 
  • I’m not sure what you mean. Do you mean…? 
  • Could you explain what you mean by…? 
  • Sorry, but I’m not quite clear on the point you made about…
  • What did you mean when you said…? 
  • Could you provide an example of…? 
  • Could you explain your second point in more detail…?

Phrases adapted from Huang (2010, p.27)

Task: Read the following requests for clarification/elaboration and select the word that completes the gap. If unsure, check the meaning and grammar of the words in an English-English dictionary.

Task: Listen to the following extract from a student’s conversation with their tutor and answer the question that follows.


Audio adapted from Villegas (2021)

Now, listen again and type the missing words. You do not need any punctuation marks, but make sure you use capital letters where necessary.

Tutor: Okay, so in this section, where you link flipped learning with andragogy, you conclude by adding the learning cycle. And I am not so sure this is relevant for your argument. You clearly explain how flipped learning can fit under andragogy and pedandragogy, but this section on the learning cycle feels a bit rushed. I would suggest that you either remove it all together, or add a little paragraph, making that connection explicit and clear for your reader.

(= the tutor gives feedback on the student’s work and then offers two suggestions for improvement: suggestion 1 or suggestion 2)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 


Student: Hmm, sorry but I am not quite clear on the point you made about explicitly linking the learning cycle with flipped learning and andragogy. Do you mean explaining how it’s related to both?

(= the student is not entirely sure about what the second suggestion means)


Tutor: Yes, as it stands it feels like a little bit of an ‘add on’ and it is unclear what is the purpose of the flipped learning, sorry… of the learning cycle, and how it helps further support your point with flipped learning being really, really good for adults and you know grown-up students.


Student: Uh-huh, I think I can see what you mean.