Tutoring ESL Students: Issues and Options
Muriel Harris and Tony Silva
November 18, 2019
When tutoring an ESL it is imperative that the communication between the ESL student and the tutor is clear. Both parties must agree on a mutual time and place and the length of time that the tutoring sessions will last. The sessions must be one-to-one to be more effective. The expectations of both must be understood, what the tutor expects from the ESL student and what the ESL student expects from the tutor. As the tutoring sessions begin, the student may become anxious to have their grammar errors corrected. As well, the tutor may be anxious to begin correcting the written work. However, both must be patience during the process. Before they begin to make grammar correction, there are other strategies should be developed and established.
An initial strategy for tutoring is to encourage the student by prioritizing the errors. Muriel Harris and Tony Silva state, “When tutors ask how to prioritize among errors, they should be encouraged to begin looking for what has been done well in the paper, acknowledge that, and go from there.” (Pg. 526) As well, there should not be a division between the ESL students and the other students in the class. If a student is singled out it may cause that student to become embarrassed which can lead to behavioral issues. The tutor must always make the ESL student feel like he/she is a part of the mainstream. This may increase the student’s self-esteem ensure high productivity from the student.
Also, tutors must boost the students’ self-esteem by reassuring them that errors are a part of the learning process and that everyone makes errors at one time or another. Tutors can use research as another strategy. A tutor that is knowledgeable about their student’s background can be helpful to the students. This is especially important because each student, is an individual with their own background. The tutor may grade an assignment based on the errors that the student made. The tutor may think that the student is performing on a low academic level. Instead, the student’s performance is low due to a lack of command of the English language. I work with high school ESL students. Sometimes struggle with written assignments. However, when we discuss the assignment, I see that the student is capable of verbally expressing their thoughts.
As well, another strategy in tutoring an adult ESL student is to divide the writing process into chunks, “(1) work more on planning, – to generates ideas, text structure, and language so as to make the actual writing more manageable; (2) to have their ESL students write in stages, (3) to separate their treatment of revising (rhetorical) and editing (linguistic.) This strategy will teach the student to simply slow down the writing process so that the quality of their writing will improve. These strategies will the writing process a learning experience and not just an exercise of correcting errors.