Tutoring ESL Students: Issues and Options
Muriel Harris and Tony Silva begins the article by first defining the goal of the tutor. They state, “The goal of tutors who work in the center is to attend to the individual concerns of every writer who walks in the door.” after describing the goal of the tutor Harris and Silva states the challenges tutors face when trying to explain certain concepts to non-native speakers. They wrote that tutors can be reduced to stunned silence when they try to explain why “I have many homeworks to complete” is wrong. They also note that new tutors often see a draft by an ESL student and are unsure of what to address first, their advice is to begin by looking for what the student did well in the paper and begin the session on a positive note. The authors reveal that tutors do not really know how to work with ELLS. They advise that in order for tutors to work effectively with ELLs they need some perspective on rhetorical approaches. They begin by introducing rhetorical preferences then they ask the question, is it helpful to generalize ELL students? To answer this question the authors brought up the issue of “contrastive rhetoric,” (which is how a person first language and culture influences his or her writing) vs. “contrastive analysis” (which states that positive transfer would occur where two language are similar). They assert that understanding “contrastive rhetoric” and “contrastive analysis” would be valuable to the tutor because both describes pattern of rhetorical preferences in other culture and describe first language transfer, all possible reason that could explain the seemingly inappropriate rhetorical strategies used by ELL students. But in the end both authors concludes that tutors should know rhetorical preferences in culture, but should not expect all ELL students to fit the molds they have learned because obviously everyone is different. Harris and Silva transition into the next discussion “recognizing differences” by stating that tutors think that all ELLs are the same and therefore must have the same problems. They advise against this perspective because every student has different strengths and weakness. Harris and Silva suggest that tutors assess the skills the student has or doesn’t have and determine whether the student need help with the writing process or the language.
The authors briefly talk about ELL students overall writing process. In that section they discuss research on adult ELL writers. The research states that adult ELL writer plan less, write with more difficulty, and reread what they have written less. The authors provides various strategies so the tutor can better help these type of students. Strategies include helping them plan their ideas and writing in stages. They also offer other important strategies and solution to the tutors when they encounter sentence level and grammar issues. The authors wrote, “A merely intuitive understanding of how English works would not be sufficient for helping ESL writers---who do not share the tutor’s native speaker’s intuitions and who often need explicit explanations.” They further express that knowing the rules can better help tutors with ELL’s grammar errors, mechanics errors, and overall writing rules. Knowing the rules can especially help those ELL students who are rule oriented and rely on organizing their knowledge of English by rules. But they also advice against tutors becoming “grammarians” who shout out rules. Furthermore the authors suggest that tutors resist the urge to correct everything. They write, “Tutors need to resist their impulse to help as much as ELL students need to resist their desire to have every grammatical error corrected.”
At the end of the article Harris and Silva reiterate the goal of the tutor and emphasizes that ELL instructors and writing tutors need to keep interacting and learning from one another. They also advice tutors to be mindful of rhetorical strategies and languages of other cultures and to always make the tutoring session interactive. Overall I though Harris and Silva did a great job of identifying the issues tutors usually encounter when working with ELL students and I also though they did an even better job in providing effective strategies to remedy these issues.
Teaching composition in the multilingual world
Pal Kei Matsuda begins his article by describing the demographic shift of student population in U.S college composition program. This shift, he concludes has made the U.S higher education highly heterogeneous in terms of the language backgrounds. He urges college writing programs to provide opportunities to prepare students for a globalized world
. Matsuda wrote, “ Today, with the globalization of economy and information, teaching writing to college students is not just about preparing students for academic, professional, and civic writing within the national boundary; it is also about preparing students--- both domestic and international---for the increasingly globalized world that always been, and will continue to be, multilingual.”
He continues by first examining the various terms used to describe second language writing which refer to writing in any language that the writer did not grow up with. He defines the many terms that are sometimes used interchangeably. Such terms include ESL, ESOL, and the current one ELL. Matsuda explains that these terms have been in reference to both international and resident ESL students. Now, because the distinction of these terms have not always been clear they have caused confusion and even conflict among teachers and researchers. He further states that the terms have also been problematic for some resident students who, associate ESL with being “foreign.” These students resist the institutional label imposed upon them and more recently have been using the term generation 1.5. This Matsuda states is a term describing college ESL students who are U.S.-educated learners of English and whose linguistic profile is distinct from that of prototypical international ESL students. After drawing our attention to the problematic matter of terms Matsuda jumped straight into the history of second language writing in composition studies.
In this section Matsuda writes second language issues became an important concern among teachers and administrators of first year writing program in the late 40s when the conclusion of WWII brought an influx of international students to U.S. higher education and into first year writing programs. In response to this situation administrators developed separate sections of first year writing programs for “foreign” students. Although this population of students continued to enroll in mainstream writing courses at many institutions, the discussion at CCCC came to a stop in 1966 when the creation of TESOL organization “institutionalized the disciplinary division of labor.” But in the 70s and 80s that all change when the rise of basic writing and the growth of resident ESL began. Matsuda explains that second language writers were placed in basic writing classes because not all institution had separate ESL course. These placement could have been productive if only basic writing teachers had background knowledge in second language instruction. Fast forward to current times and second language issues have become more visible. Second language students are still place in first year writing program taught by teachers who may not be experience with working with second language writers of various kinds. In response to the current demographic shift Matsuda believes that separate section of first year writing courses for second language writers need to be establish and if unable to separate the course he advice to at least make the first year writing courses ESL friendly. He also talks about the importance of creating professional development for writing teacher. While some schools are already doing this Matsuda further emphasizes the importance of making the curriculum in writing programs appropriate for students who bring a broad range of linguistic and cultural differences to the class.
Lastly, Matsuda mentions the lack of second language issues being discussed in professional literature and text. Which ironically focuses on international issues. He further addresses the writing center. In the topic of writing centers he ask writing center administrators to examine their assumptions of the writing center, which were developed with monolingual English users in mind. At the end of this article Matsuda basically reiterate his point and states this: Composition specialists need to embrace the multilingual reality of the global community and today’s classroom by exploring ways to engage all students in the development of global literacy.
Explain one thing that you learned about second language learners that you didn’t know before?
How would you work with ELL writing students? What strategies would you use?
Consider one advice you would offer an ELL student about writing?
English is a Crazy Language We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?
Then one may be that, and there would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!
Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in
eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren’t invented in England. We take English for
granted, but if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can
work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from
Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write, but fingers don’t fing, grocers
don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?
Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of
them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship…
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
in which your house can burn up as it burns down,
in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and
in which an alarm goes off by going on.
And in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother’s not Mop? Retrieved from LiveMocha.com