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ESL Students in the writing center. Patty Hazle College of LSA University of Michigan Class of 2015. Examining the Peer Relationship & Tutoring Practices. Esl At University of Michigan. Fall semester, 2012: Total of 8,491 international students scholars faculty staff

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esl students in the writing center
ESL Students in the writing center

Patty Hazle

College of LSA

University of Michigan

Class of 2015

Examining the Peer Relationship & Tutoring Practices

esl at university of michigan
Esl At University of Michigan
  • Fall semester, 2012: Total of 8,491 international
    • students
    • scholars
    • faculty
    • staff
  • 13.5% international students
esl background
ESL Background
  • Complex Relationships
    • 1. Tutor and writer
    • 2. Writer and the English language
  • Different social cues, learning process & standards, culture
  • Each ESL student is an individual encounter
    • Tutor must adapt from student to student
  • Excellent tutors are equipped with techniques to overcome impasses with ESL students in the writing center
  • Tutor Relationship:

Expert vs. Peer

setting up expectations
Setting up expectations
  • Nancy Hayward compares culture to an iceberg
    • We see the top 10% (clothing, food, customs, social customs)
    • The rest is submerged
  • There is no “right” or “wrong” culture
  • Therefore, we must consider that an ESL student will approach a session differently than a NS
  • Sweetland tutor: non-directive approach
    • ESL student might not consider it an appropriate approach

Understanding tutor relationshipOftentimes, ESL students struggle with understanding the relationship of a peer tutor, and come in with expectations to work with an expert

  • 1. Expect that tutor directly dictates course of the session
  • 2. Think that tutor should be older, have extensive writing/tutoring experience, be a native English speaker
  • 3. Students do not question authority
  • 4. Interpret politeness and formality differently
  • 5. Anxiety because of power relationships
issues in relationship
Issues in relationship
  • When the tutor is seen as EXPERT instead of PEER:

- Contributes to misconceptions about “fix-it-center”

- Sometimes do not accept tutor as reliable source

  • - Students do not take ownership of papers
  • - Hard to engage in collaborative process
  • - Feel disrespectful asserting opinions
  • - Do not respond to non-directive approach
techniques to employ
Techniques to Employ
  • Set up proper expectations
    • Explain goals of the writing center before beginning work
  • Establish peer relationship (not expert)
    • Employ earnest rapport and ice breakers where appropriate
  • Explain own difficulties with the writing process
    • Give an example of how to utilize a reference book
  • Find ways to communicate that provide a less formal environment for the student
    • Use student’s body language to judge what level of politeness and formality they are comfortable with (big introduction vs. quietly entering the session)
techniques to employ1
Techniques to employ
  • Help the student take ownership
    • Ask them to read the paper out loud
    • Ask leading questions about content
    • If it does not work for them to read the paper out loud tutor can read it & have student recognize their own errors
      • Accommodates students who are uncomfortable by the spotlight because their culture identifies more with group than individual
  • Ascertain whether the student is making a mistake vs. an error in their paper
    • Devise a strategy to help teach them, allows them to take away skills for future writing process
  • Recognize patterns of error
    • Enables tutor to diagram problem & fully articulate to student
establishing peer relationship why it is important
Establishing peer relationship: why it is important
  • Encourages ESL students to continue with tackling writing process
  • Sends message that the writing process is difficult and ongoing
    • No one correct way to write, or an easy solution to paper writing
  • Writing cannot be fixed quickly
    • Eliminates the tendency for editing
    • Encourages multiple drafts
  • Paves way for extended discourse about a particular piece of writing or overall writing process
    • Improves the individual’s skill set
  • Be sure to adjust techniques from student to student to cater to their needs and cultural backgrounds
food for thought
Food for Thought
  • Do you have a relationship with an international or ESL peer(s) that you can recall?
    • Based on cues indicating their specific culture, in what way would you present the writing center to them that would prompt them to utilize it?
  • In what instances might this attention to cultural difference and particular sensitivity to relationship be applicable outside of the writing center?
works cited
Works Cited
  • Brice, Colleen Marie. ESL Writers’ Reactions to Teacher Feedback: A Multiple Case Study. 1998.
  • Gitzen, Mary. Face to Face: Conferencing As ESL Writing Instruction. 2002.
  • Jordan, Cecil Terrell, III. ESL, “comp,” And Composition: Terms, Assumptions, Implications, And New Practices for Native and Nonnative English-speaking Students. 2006.
  • Shanti, Bruce. ESL Writers: A Guide for Writing Center Tutors. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.
  • University of Michigan International Center 2012 Statistical Report