Its hard not to agree with most of the statements Muriel Harris makes because the qualities she describes are the qualities most tutors should have no matter who they are working with. Things like being patient with the students and trying to be understanding of their situation are qualities tutors should have whether they are helping an ESL student or not. As tutors we all know how difficult expos and all of these other writing courses can be because we have been through it and we know how hard you have to work in order to receive that A, and how sometime even with all that work you still come up short. Therefore patience and relatability are obvious traits for tutors to have, but more so with ESL students.
The one major difference I do between teaching an ESL student as opposed to another is in the first meeting. The first meeting with ESL students seems to be the most important of all because this is when the student is the most nervous and has absolutely no idea of what to expect. As Harris states “Because the tutoring pedagogy emphasizes the need to establish a comfortable relationship at the beginning of the tutorial, tutoring manuals often advise starting a session with a few minutes of friendly chatter” (213). This is especially true with ESL students because they are already in foreign environment to start with. They are not in a typical classroom where they can just fade into the background and just listen to what the professor has to say. They have become the primary focus; they have been brought to center stage, and are expected to perform. If they do not feel comfortable in the environment they are in then they will most likely fail to perform. Just five minutes of non-writing conversation can significantly make the student feel more comfortable. The students in my second session often come earlier than their session begins, so rather than leave the room to take the 30-minute break in between session to leave the building, I talk to my students. Often times we talk about how the weekend went, what they are in to, or how other classes might be going. I find in this time I really get to know my students and they become much more responsive to any questions I might pose to them during the tutoring session. To me having that initial conversation is the most important part of any tutoring session because it creates a comfortable environment, which is especially helpful for ESL students.