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Monday, March 25, 2013

Experiences with ESL Students

This is my first semester as an ESL tutor, which has been really challenging for me. As a bilingual person, I can attest that learning English as a Second Language is not an easy task to achieve. First, the most important thing to learn is language rules and vocabulary. When ESL writers can understand the grammar rules, and they have a broad knowledge of words, theirs ideas come out more fluently when they write a paper. Second, once students learn grammar and vocabulary, they learn how to build sentences. Then, they work on cohesion, clarity, coherence, and diction. At the writing center, I have been exploring different techniques to simplify the learning process for ESL students, which takes time and hard work. In addition, I have been facing criticism from some ESL students; some of whom have the wrong impression that because of my accent I am not able to help them with accuracy. Nevertheless, the hopes to become a good ESL tutor are still strong, and definitely I am not going to give up.   

           Each student has a different learning process. Some students learn easier with illustrations, while others understand everything much easier through explanations, and some learn by connecting previous knowledge with an actual situation. It has been really useful for students practicing grammar exercises online because it is a fun way to learn, feeling the process learning as a game instead as a pain. However, my goal with students is helping them to improve and to make English enjoyable. I know this is not easy at all, but I am trying to use my knowledge to achieve these goals. Even though some students feel frustrated because they cannot get an "A" in Writing or Grammar class, I just tell them, "This is a process of practice and more practice." Honestly, I can explain and give them the tools to improve, but I cannot study for them. Learning a language requires endless effort, much commitment, and continued motivation on the part of the students to master it.

             I completed English for Academic Purpose courses just last semester and earned excellent grades. Of course, I still have my accent which is quite natural for any adult having acquired the language after secondary development. Naturally, I have been feeling frustrated because some students have the wrong idea that I cannot help them because of my accent. These students do not realize that they too have an accent. They sometimes prefer a native speaker for tutoring rather than accepting my help. For Americans, English comes naturally because they have learned the language as a small child.  Sometimes, not all native tutors are suited to help foreign speakers, for they do not always have tolerance and patience for students of other languages.  Besides, they do not understand the frustrations of second-language learners, and the obstacles they have to go through.  As a bilingual person, I share the same frustrations, fears, insecurities, and worries that most second-language students had to go through one time or another. Thus, I can understand their needs and sacrifices because most of them are facing a new language and a different culture, which is difficult for some students to adapt. I am just trying to say "I too had been learning a new language only a short while ago while I also had to assimilate in the American culture like you, in order to succeed as an active member of this society.”

1 comment:

  1. Uri! I love this! Especially what you said about having the same fears, insecurities, etc. Well done lady! Keep doing what you're doing, and the students will flock. "If you build it, they will come."

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