Friday, September 06, 2013

Beaten But Not Defeated

I honestly do not remember my very first tutoring session from January, but I do remember my first one from last week. She was definitely reserved during the session, as some of the ESL students are. But, it did not take long, once I complemented her on how well her English writing was and how quickly she was catching on to the grammar concepts I was discussing with her, for her to let her guard down and speak more during our time together. The session did have its difficult moments because some of the words and phrases she knew and understood in Arabic got (literally) lost in translation, and it interrupted the flow of her paper, and even the session a bit, because of it.
I am always a bit apprehensive when going into a session with an ESL student because I come from a culture where most people I came in contact with only speak English. It was not until I went to college where I came in contact with other people who spoke multiple languages or English was not the language they were fluent in. Having this language barrier makes it sometimes difficult to tutor because it may affect their willingness to converse or learn a certain concept during a session.
Also, I have had my first tutoring sessions with 900 and 955 students this week. During the 955 session, the young man came in with ideas already about his assignment, and it was great. He was really engaged in the session since he had did some thinking and brainstorming prior to the session, and we seemed to vibe really well, so it did not take long at all to get him started on writing his first draft. I did not feel all that prepared going into the session since I have not observed or held a session with a student that uses the Developmental English Learning Center. But, I do feel I am good as acting as someone’s muse and generating useful ideas, so the session made me feel like could begin to help other 955 students complete the brainstorming and outlining portion of their assignments…until later that afternoon.

Because there were not any master tutors available at the time, I volunteered to help the 900 student brainstorm ways to start her essay since the draft was due the next day (there was that procrastination I spoke of in Blog 1).  I was extremely overwhelmed, scared, and apprehensive, and I was right to be. Even though the sessions just consisted of brainstorming and outlining, it was difficult for me. She just was not as prepared as the 955 student, which made it challenging for me to critic the ideas she already had or even help come up with new ones. But, I tried my best to be patient and go through my normal brainstorm/outline process with her. She did say I helped her a lot, and she would be okay with finally writing her paragraphs. But, as I looked back, I saw her rewriting the same things she had before I helped her, and I felt as if I wasted my time. Fortunately, Claire assured me that that was not the case, and I did the best that I could with what I knew how to do.


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