Your thoughts on ESL students

I was wondering if I could get some feedback for my final project/paper. I am writing about ESL students and the ideas of authority and appropriation and something very interesting was brought to my attention by Gail Schuck. As we all know, most ESL students come into the Center asking for help with grammar, and as the dutiful consultants we are in wanting to help the student with their request we focus our limited time on grammar issues; however, a problem arises because often times grammar is not the overlying problem. These students that come in asking for help with "grammar" are using this term as an overview for other things they would like to work on, in particular conciseness of ideas, clarity, and working the paper into "American" conventions.

What I would like to know (and this kind of goes along with Dale's post) are the following things: If you as a tutor follow the collaborative guidelines and do as the student asks and focus only on grammar or do you ignore their request and focus on other issues that you see in the paper? Do you think that a half hour or an hour appointment is enough time to address all of most of issues in ESL writers papers? Do you think it would be beneficial to establish a working relationship with one ESL student and one tutor over the course of the semester or do you think it is better to have one ESL student meet with many tutors?

Thanks for your help!


  1. Hey questions! Honestly, I have a really hard time plotting out a session when it comes to ELL students, and I guess the plotting all depends "where" that student is in their learning process.

    I find that the easiest sessions are with the ELL students that are just beginning to write in English. I think that they're easiest (for me) because they seem really eager to discuss just about anything I personally notice. ELL students that are further along in their own learning processes, however, seem more likely to stick with what they want to discuss--and they seem more likely to pipe up when they want the conversation to move back toward grammar, organization, whatever. Just my personal observation, though.

    After the essay is read aloud, I briefly go over what I noticed, and I always try to throw in a few grammar-related topics and a few HOC topics, too. The student usually chooses one, or two, as a way into the conversation.

    I do always try to cover what the student states they want emphasis on, but, more often then not, the conversation moves away from "grammar"--at least in most of my sessions.

    Hope this was helpful!


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