English, not their mother language.
On one of my sessions I was helping a young woman who spoke and wrote fluent Arabic. Her notes for the assignment were written all in Arabic and I could see that she was very proud of her background. She came in wanting my help with the notes her professor wrote on her paper. Those notes consisted of, "You must be able to write fluently in English if you are to move on to the next class." With her notes all in her mother language, I could see why the professor would make that statement.
In a class discussion I was given the advice on what to say the next time I have this situation. The suggestions were:
*Ask her if s/he would start taking notes in English.
*Remind s/he that if they want to move on to the next class they need to know the English language.
*Explain that when learning a new language it helps to immerse yourself in the language with speech, writing, and reading, etc.
I found my classmates suggestions very helpful and it makes sense. When I was in high school I took a lot of Spanish classes. I only know very little, only enough in fact to get through to the kids at the daycare where I work. If I had applied these suggestions to my learning I might know more. I intend to use these suggestions in my tutoring sessions and also when I transfer to a four year institution that requires four years of a second language.