International students may have difficulty learning the rules of academic English. Having to struggle with academic English and keeping up with class assignments, especially at the college level, is not easy. Assignments themselves can be difficult or new to the student and that may lower their confidence. For example, I had a student who had never completed a research paper before. I asked her what she found was most difficult for her to accomplish the paper. Her response was the pressure of making sure the format and APA style was correct, as well as using only third person. When knowing that there is a grade to come from a paper, making sure the paper is perfect can cause writers anxiety and more mistakes. Without having pressure on the student to exceed expectations, it affects the student’s confidence to have a strong paper and their own skills.
On the flip side, there was another student who had no problem writing the same assignment. Instead the opposite happened. Few questions were asked when we were both going over her paper. I then asked her a question about the paper to see if she saw the need to improve any specific area of her paper. I did not imply that there was, but she was confident that her paper was just fine, leaving nothing left for me to do, but compliment her on her work.
As a writing fellow, it may be help to alleviate any tension the student has in order write their paper to their best capability and build their confidence. I was thinking about my own level of confidence in my work and wondered to myself. Do you believe that a tutor’s confidence brushes off onto the student?