ESL Learners

    ESL learners learn differently than we do. I realize that I'm just stating the obvious (for those of us that have worked with ESL writers). But underneath we are really all the same. Keeping that in mind has helped me immensely as I immersed myself in the writers that I was helping. I say was because my time at this particular library was cancelled due to funding for the program. While I hope that at some point to go back there, I'm moving forward to help others.
    So what have I learned from this time working almost exclusively with ESL students? First thing I found out was the most important is who they are, everybody is different which is what give us our identity. Grammar mistakes are something I tend to overlook; since my own grammar is not perfect. Even though they might not be native they will know what they need to have looked at and where their paper needs to be strengthened. Sometimes the problem is merely in the translation of the text.  Higher order of concerns would be for them to understand exactly what they have to do, do exactly what they have to do and show that they have done exactly what they had to do. Doing that even the most struggling ESL writers can succeed.


  1. Timothy, what will you do now that your time mentoring at the library has been cancelled? Are you able to do mentoring somewhere else?

  2. I suppose language acquisition—as related to writing—is different in respect to how young children acquire writing skills. I agree with that sentiment. I'm wondering if ESL learners actually learn differently, as you suggest, or is it that ESL learners have different writing experiences that need to be taken into account? I’ve experienced writers that are learning a second language who incorporate cultural understandings, writing structures and grammar from their first language in their English writing pieces, which to me is an absolutely normal tendency. I’m not sure I understand how ESL writers learn differently. Do you mean that they have different things to learn? Please elaborate.

  3. It often surprises me how unaware instructional professionals can be about the issues and best practices for ESL students.

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