I’ve never tutored any ESL students, but I found “Cultural Conflicts in the Writing Center” by Muriel Harris to be very interesting. Obviously there is an added obstacle when trying to tutor an ESL student, but I found that some of the problems I encounter tutoring American students to be very similar to the issues Harris discussed. The idea that tutors should make friendly conversation with their students can be utilized for both American and ESL students. I find that this is a useful tool to get the students to feel comfortable. I don’t keep the conversation too long because we obviously have work, but it’s good to at least see how they are doing. Once we do this, we are able to get to work with tutoring.
It is also important to establish the tutor/tutee relationship in that students have to know that the tutor is not a glorified spellchecker. Most of the students that come to Plangere are expecting a lot of help with grammatical issues, not so much their method of thinking. The first session can be awkward when I have to explain that I will not be correcting any of their grammar, but helping them to change their way of thinking about their paper. Establishing how the tutoring sessions will go and the structure of the sessions is important to establishing a solid tutor/tutee relationship. Motivating my students like Harris mentioned is also important. I think this is especially important with ESL students since they are probably discouraged by their lack of knowledge of the English language. Harris definitely made some interesting points that I will use in my tutoring sessions.