Writing Assignment #4
November 6, 2011
What’s the Difference Between You and Me?
The article by Muriel Harris, “Affirming Diversity”, raises many interesting and instructive points for tutoring ESL students. I can really relate to this article because I have an international student, but she learned English and her native language at the same time in her native country. Although she did learn English, she learned British English, so some of her writing and the phrases that she uses appear strange to me. When Harris was describing the attitude of ESL students always agreeing with the authoritative figure, I was reminded of my student. I have noticed that she will, even if it is begrudgingly, agree with me, but her voice will be sarcastic when she does so. I always try to make my students feel relaxed, and I noticed that my international student loosens up when we have casual conversations. However, she is having a hard time comprehending the main points of expository writing. She struggles with using the text and understanding what the authors are writing because of the language they use, but she is thinking and has very good ideas. She is always completes the reading ahead of time and is always prepared. I have had trouble communicating with my student and getting her to answer my questions and the ones she asks me (but should know the answers to). She tries to rely too heavily on my input rather than her own. Despite all of this, I really enjoy working with my student because it is a challenge that forces me to tutor in a different style.
One part of the reading that I really related to was the problems ESL students face in their writing. I related this concept to my personal difficulties with Spanish grammar and writing. Although I have been taking Spanish since seventh grade, there are still many concepts that I struggle with and tend to write incorrectly. Idioms are a huge difficulty for anyone in any language, and I find myself frequently writing things in an “awkward” manner. I notice that I use very simple words and rarely any intellectual or complex ones, simply because I do not know any. I can relate to ESL students when I speak Spanish since it is not my first language, and when I tutor my international student I try to treat her as if she were American (as not to offend her), but I also attempt to change my style more to match her needs.