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What did they teach me?

I have spent more than my fifteen required hours in the SLCC Writing Center. My time there was amazing, I mentioned that many were not native English speakers and that my mother language is not there's. They are learning the language I knew from birth. At first it was intimidating to work with these students because they are taking on something I already know, and might not fully understand me, but as my time progressed I learned that we are all the same. I may know more fluently my mother language but I am still learning about it. As an English major I am leaning more and more with every class I take. I pondered my time in the WC and thought, what did these ESL student's teach me?
          *Patience: Working with a non native speaker is not easy, you need to see this language from there perspective and sometimes you will go back to elementary learning with basic sentence structures and word placements.
          *Gratitude: You may feel a sense of pride coming from your ESL student for their country. I left each session with pride for my own. These student's taught me that where I come from matters and I don't know if I could do what they are doing, coming to a different country and leaning a new language. In America I get A's in English, but if I moved to France and started college over there my French would not be A format. 
          *Knowledge: These student's brought in topics that were familiar, like Ebola. Most of the topics I knew but there were things about them I had never heard of before. One student had an assignment about dance and I did not know that North American slaves were stripped of their home land form of dance. They were not allowed to dance the same way they did back home. They had to recreate an approved (approved meaning from their masters) form of dance to express themselves. Another student had the topic of Hitler and I had always thought that Mein Kampf was written after WWII  but no, it was written in prison before he became the Hitler we know today.
These are just a few of the things my students taught me and I learned from them. I leave the writing center knowing that I will come back, hopefully not as just a volunteer. I loved my experience there and hope for many more experiences in the future.



  1. Emily,
    I wholeheartedly agree with the three things one learns when working with ESL students. In my volunteer experience, I have only worked with ESL students, and I can commensurate with the patience aspect. At first it was frustrating for me, but I learned to see from the perspective of a foreign student and have learned in the process as well. It's great to hear you enjoyed it!!


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