Transcript How to Work with Academic English or ESL/ELL Students by Kelley
A Brief Overview on How to Work with Academic English Students or ESL/ELL Students
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What Do I Focus On?
By now, you might have an idea of what you should be working on with students. Keep in mind: You cannot focus on everything. Ask the student what they want the most help with in the time they have with you.
However, you will probably get some or all of the following answers to the above question: Everything!* Grammar!(*) Proofreading!* Revising!
Does it flow?
But what does that all mean? You have to do a little digging to find out what the student is really struggling with.
• • * = don’t attempt (*) = attempt minimally
What Do I Focus On? (cont’d)
When all a student says is “grammar,” there are usually more pressing errors that they do not realize exist OR they believe grammar to be the most pressing issue. Try to focus on some of the following & then try to tackle some grammar issues. These are larger issues and often the most important things when writing an essay: Overall content. Does the student answer the prompt correctly?
Is there a clear and identifiable introduction, body, and conclusion?
If a thesis statement or claim is required of the assignment, does the student have a strong thesis/claim?
If a professor gave a sample essay structure, does the student follow it?
Does the student support his/her claim with evidence?
Does the student provide enough analysis?
Grammar Trouble Spots
Remember: You are not a grammar teacher.
Don’t worry if you don’t know all of the answers to questions the students are asking in terms of grammar.
Some students would benefit from a class that focuses solely on grammar, but unfortunately, most do not have the time in their schedules—or just don’t want to.
It’s fine to say you aren’t sure of how a grammatical form or rule works. Point them to another resource that can help them (people, print sources, web sources, etc.).
If you field confident enough, explain to the best of your ability.
Grammar Trouble Spots (cont’d)
Some of the common grammatical errors you will see in ESL/ELL writing are:
Subject-verb agreement (She are going to the store.) Verb tense/form (She runs yesterday; they are run a race.) Sentence structure issues Word choice issues Article issues (United States is a nice country.) Sentence fragments (Because I am going to UCI. I am getting a good education.) Comma splices (I like pie, pie is my favorite food.) *There are, of course, other issues besides grammar & content such as citation issues and formatting issues.
It all boils down to this: You have a limited time with students. Don’t feel bad if you can’t answer all of their questions in one sitting. Do not overwhelm yourself.
Because of this limited time, you should feel free to point them to other sources for help, which they can pursue themselves. THEY NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.
Purdue Owl (website) Grammar for Writing 1 (GW1); Keys for Writers (Ann Raimes, print) Their professors WC & IPG Study Hall (Wednesdays; 5-6:30; Ayala 193) Myself or other writing specialists: 949-824-4124 Mention that they can get more help if they’re willing to make an appointment.
How to break down a prompt
Try identifying the VERBS in a prompt.
For example: Ellen Goodman, Gloria Steinem and Richard Rodriguez write about the subject of employment. What motivates people to work? Write an essay in which you discuss the reasons jobs are so important. To develop your essay, use the short stories and your personal observations or experiences to develop your ideas.
Break it down. There’s usually some sort of “introduction” to a prompt before diving into the real assignment. The actual task often starts with a verb such as “write.”
Tips for tackling an in-class essay (especially AE)
Make students aware that brainstorming and outlining is one of the easiest ways to become more successful when writing in class.
Get your ideas down on paper first in bullet points.
Try to outline an essay based on the following template: Introduction Background information (not all will require this) Thesis + 3 main points that help support the thesis Body Several paragraphs organized around the 3 main points Evidence for each supporting point Conclusion Restatement of the claim and the supporting ideas If you do not outline, it’s very easy to get lost in your thoughts or start rambling. Students often start summarizing a reading or a personal example and neglect their claim.
SAVE TIME TO PROOFREAD. Ideally, students should save 10-15 mins. toward the end of the allotted time period to give them a chance to catch grammatical errors.