Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Topic: ESL Students' Writing Problems

10-second review: Types of concerns about language, how to begin working with the student’s paper and how to approach ESL students.

Title: “Tutoring ESL Students: Issues and Opinions.” M Harris and T Silva. College Composition and Communication (December 1993), 525 -537. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Quote. Types of ESL Mistakes: “Tutors can be rendered to stunned silence when they try to explain why ‘I have many homeworks to completed’ is wrong or why we say ‘on Monday’ but ‘in June.’ ”

Quote. How to Begin Working with ESL Papers: “When tutors ask how to prioritize among errors, they should be encouraged to begin by looking for what has been done well in the paper, acknowledge that and go from there.”

Quote. How to Approach ESL Students: “There is a tendency to think about ESL students as if they’re all alike when obviously they’re not.”

Comment: The latter two pieces of advice are helpful: acknowledge what’s well done and treat ESL students as individuals. The first problem has happened to me. The ESL student asks “Why?” when their expression does not conform to standard English or to American idioms.

At least as a starting point, I write out the correction so the ESL students can compare what they wrote with what I wrote. Explaining it? That’s another problem. I was too used to the pattern to think about why I used it. Having the ESL student keep a record of the student’s expressions followed by the teacher’s actual correction might help the ESL student to become more familiar with the correct pattern
. RayS.

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