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Showing posts from 2012

Where I'm Supposed to Be

I was scared when I started consulting. But like, for real. How was I, a junior Communication major, supposed to help undergrads and grads of all majors with any part of their writing? What if I didn’t have the words to say? Or worse, what if I told them the wrong thing?
And then I just sucked it up and did it. And loved it. Scared freshmen with English 104 rhetorical analyses. International grad students working on their electrical engineering dissertations. Group projects and presentations and resumes and personal emails. I went to each session and gave myself to the cause: to help better communication and writing. I learned two major lessons: 1. teaching doesn’t have to be scary and 2. I love it.
Teaching seemed like the one career choice I never gave any thought to. (In truth, there are many career choices I’ve never considered; never have I ever had a desire to be an astronaut, for example). My best friend was on track to become a teacher and I always thought: that’s perfect, she c…

Perfection and the “One Big Grammar Mistake” Syndrome: A Shift in Philosophy

Every time I am in a foreign country where I don’t know the language or culture, I immediately end up wanting to climb into a UPS shipping box and overnight myself straight back to my home in Texas. Back home, I know I can effectively speak and write in English (which ironically is my second language), and I don’t have to feel embarrassed every time I open my big, foreign mouth.Struggling to formulate simple sentences is embarrassing. Staring blankly back at someone who is trying to explain something to me that seems so simple and yet is so complicated is humiliating. Having my grammar corrected every other word is enough to make me want to be mute for the rest of my life. Let’s have a change of scenery and fast-forward to a typical day in the writing center—it’s your next session as a peer consultant is with an international student. You give a little sigh because you already know what’s nextall of the sudden you are listening to student struggle to formulate simple sentences. As yo…

Other Side of the Track

Yesterday I walked into the Learning Studio with the perspective of a student, not that of a mentee or an observer. Simply changing my ambitions for showing up ultimately seemed to have an impact on how I felt coming in. I anxiously waited on a bench for my tutor to show up. I had not met this gentleman before and was curiously scanning the room to seek out my possibilities. I had only been there for two minutes and my tutor, introduced himself to me as we made our way to a cubicle he seemed to have been sitting at. We sat down and I gave him a basic overview of what I was aiming to accomplish with the four page paper I had written for my Writing Theory class, that I needed help revising. He asked me to read the paper and I began to read the paper out loud. Once I was done,  he appeared to admired the use of details I presented to make a specific tutoring session come to life with the actions of the tutor and the student.
 It was then his turn to read the paper out loud. He claimed h…
I recently had the chance to observe a session with a student whose first language is nnot English, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that she's an ESL student, as her accent was thin, and she kept up in conversation. I have to admit, however, that as the session continued, the language barrier did become a bit of a focal point.
     Upon arrivial, the student said that she wanted to "correct" her paper, and when pressed, admitted that correcting punctuation and vocabulary was her goal for the session.The tutor began to read through the paper and made small notes on the page. Meanwhile, the writer sat quietly and fiddled with various papers and looked generally disinterested. Upon noting this behavior, my initial thought was that this student, like others I've seen, had no desire to be at the writing center and only there to appease her instructor. Looking back, however, I realize that her fidgeting may have been related to the language (and, possibly, cul…