April 21, 2021
This was my first and only year working at the Writing Centre, and I am so thankful for the experiences and opportunities it provided for me. When I first began working here last semester, I did not know the joys and struggles I would be in for. However, the more I engaged and built connections with students, the more passionate I became about writing and connecting with students. It also taught me patience, understanding, and helped me grow as a writer alongside my peers.
One of the biggest challenges and learning experiences for me these past two semesters was working with ESL students. These students are so bright, and it astounds me that all their writing is not even in their first language yet it is intelligent and understandable to read. That is more than I can say about my own writing in any language other than English. However, as noted by Harris and Silva, often “tutors… are not adequately equipped to deal with some additional concerns of non-native speakers of English— the unfamiliar grammatical errors, the sometimes bewildering different rhetorical patterns and conventions of other languages, and the expectations that accompany ESL writers when they come to the writing center” (525).
These are all issues that, at first, I was unsure how to approach. However, the support of the Writing Centre this year enabled me and encouraged me to learn and grow in expertise in these areas so that I could explore new ways of approaching students whose whole concept of language is completely different from mine. I learned to be patient, to start from the basics of understanding in order to find common ground with these students, and then I learned to apply their own background knowledge to English so that they could better understand the concepts gone over in tutoring sessions. This one-on-one learning experience thus provided me with a newfound respect and appreciation for students whose background caused a gap in understanding that became my job, as a writing coach, to bridge.
Harris, Muriel, and Tony Silva. “Tutoring ESL Students: Issues and Options.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 44, no. 4, 1993, pp. 525–537. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/358388. Accessed 24 Apr. 2021.