Each of the comments below represent a suggestion from a
composition and/or English literature instructor at the University of Minnesota
in response to a Bush Diversity Grant survey asking for strategies they have
used to help their non-native speakers write more effectively in native-speaker
the students RIGHT AWAY and let them know that they can come to you for help.
While I've had lots of ESL students who are aggressive about getting
help, I've had others (often young women) who are too shy to ask.
them to set up a Writing Center appointment or even volunteer to meet with them
weekly yourself if the Writing Center proves impossible. Writing Center
instructors seem extremely effective at helping students understand the nuances
as well as the bigger issues that they might have difficulty with.
out assignments and give them as handouts rather than just describing them in
students can present a special set of challenges that I don't always feel able
to overcome, try as I might. Realize that you will get used to their errors and
will learn what types of commenting works best for ESL students – they are
often more extensive than for my native speakers.
that you can read three times as fast as can the native speaking student in your
class, and you can read MUCH faster than a non-native speaker can. So don't
assume that because you could rip through that novel in an afternoon that the
students can do the same. It will
take them three afternoons and your non-native speaker six.
So give people some time and space to get the work done. You'll reduce
frustration, and frustration breeds hostility. Who needs it?
Writing: Since it's a creative
writing course, I do pay more attention to the tone of the story, mood, and
voice, and not as much to the technical aspect. In conferences, I do bring the
editorial/grammatical errors to their attention, but focus more on the artistic
side of her stories.
have noticed that non-English speaking students tend to create refreshingly non-cliche
images with their words, and I feel that's something to be encouraged.
have offered to let students come to my office early and write the in-class
writings before class to give as much time as needed, and I have encouraged them
to come meet with me in my office to get help reading the plays (it's
give them extra support on adaptation from native language writing methods and
in English grammar, also sometimes for cultural adjustment.
I make some way for them to feel comfortable and acclaimed in class for
their multiple language proficiency. We
use their technical grammar skills (which are often better than native speakers'
skills) to support native speakers and the native speakers' intuitive grasp of
English wording to support the ESL students. Grading follows the usual methods
with maybe a slight consideration for language issues, but not much.
them. Learn something about their
educational backgrounds and cultures. Appreciate
the minimal diversity we have.
coursework in Comparative and International Development Education has been
helpful in my understanding of and appreciation for non-native students.
I'd encourage people to take some of those courses.
try to make sure that the peer review process "circulates," that is,
any particular pair of native/non-native speakers don't always read each other's
papers. Two reasons: the non-native speakers need a variety of viewpoints, and the
native speakers sometimes get discouraged having to "cope" with the
extra work involved in responding to the ESL students' work.
my part, I worry more, and try to get a feel for how much help with grammar any
particular student wants. If they
are looking for extra help, I've always had few enough in each course to oblige.
to them very early in the class -- day one is best.
Find out what their confidence level is, and what their expectations are
make sure they can understand me adequately when I speak; I allow for cultural
differences in the ways they interact and with me and with other students and,
if necessary, gently explain differences.
look for non-native speaker patterns of errors (and strengths) in their
writings; this semester I am allowing them to use some punctuation that is
different in non-U.S. countries (mainly placing a comma after ending quotation
marks instead of before them).
go to extra lengths to make them feel accepted by and comfortable with both me
and the other students; if appropriate, I comment in their papers on differences
between the U.S. cultural ways of writing and those of their countries/regions.
would suggest making a little more effort to get to know NNS students because
they tend to be a bit more quiet and hesitant about participating, yet some are
absolutely excellent students in one or more ways; and most will
"blossom" a bit more in the class with a very small amount of
a writing sample early in the semester. My
Korean student did not speak with an accent, so I assumed she belonged in my
class until she submitted her first critical summary and I discovered all the
writing problems she had. Then it
was too late for me to tell her to change to a non-native writing class. I could only recommend the Writing Center.
peer review, I stress looking at patterns of errors – no overload of
information – and unless the errors seriously distract from the ideas, I try
not to downgrade though this is a tough idea in a literature-based course. If
the writing is not really suited just yet for a literature course, I may
recommend dropping the course and taking another composition class so that
students will get more fluent with writing in English first.
should know the resources on campus to direct NNS students, especially referring
them to the Student Writing Center which is a wonderful resource that gives them
the time to work on the persistent grammar errors.
needs to be more trained ESL teachers tutors of composition and more direct
training for other teachers who will have non-native speakers in their classes.
usually give non-native speakers more attention on papers and concentrate on
larger organizational issues rather than marking up all their grammar errors. I
also encourage them to work with me and especially the non-native speaker
always conference individually once with my students, at which time I can ask
them how they are doing, what their needs are, etc.
I don't do anything differently during in-class work. My endnotes on papers try to identify recurring grammar
problems and I always recommend the Student Writing Center, telling them that
they can request a tutor there for non-native speakers, if there are persistent
clear that the reading load (it's the British Literature survey) is heavy and
they need to be at a level to read not just for broad content but for specific
uses of form, etc. in order to be able to do well in the class.