Recently, I had my first tutoring session with a student who was not a native English speaker. I was somewhat nervous for this session because, even though our class has read several articles and essays about how to approach ESL students, I had never personally experienced it. It was somewhat difficult to really get her involved in the session. I tried to read the paper out loud so that we could both hear how the sentences sounded, but I realized part way through that she was not really listening or paying attention until I asked her a question about a sentence or some phrasing in the paragraph. It may have worked better if I had her read it out loud to me rather than being the one doing the reading. Also, I think I needed to directly tell her to write down some of the things she verbally told me when I asked for some explanation. I spent some time working to get her to clarify her meaning on several sentences, but she didn’t write down anything at first. I think this may have been because I never explicitly told her to do that. I told her that what she said was good and made sense or that she could say that, but I don’t think she understood that she might want to change what she had written to something like what she said. There were other times where we worked on some word choices and grammar, where she still didn’t write things unless I specifically told her to change something. It was somewhat challenging because I got the feeling that she wanted me to make changes for her instead of helping her make the changes and decide how to change the wording. We were also on a time constraint because halfway through the session she became somewhat restless and was looking to see how much of the paper we had left. When I asked her if she needed to leave at a certain time, she said she’d like to finish as soon as possible. After that I kinda rushed through the paper and ended up giving her more corrections than I would have liked due to time. She tried to have me write things down for her, but I told her I wasn’t allowed to write on her paper. But I still tried to explain why the changes were made. Even though the session ended early, it was really encouraging when she started to catch on and fix some of the grammatical errors without my having to prompt her or feed her the answer.
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I have posted a poll in the IWCA forums: IWCA Forum: Peer Tutor => What do we call ourselves: the poll! It is a part of an earlier discussion that kind of petered out about the titles used for writing center workers. Please take a moment and vote! If you don't have an account on the forum, you can register for one by clicking on the "Register" link (next to the rocket icon in the top-right of the page.) Don't forget to state your institutional affiliation when you request and account. (That's how the IWCA Forum keeps out spam accounts.)
By Lori Brock
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