Friday, September 06, 2013

First Session: Check!

My very first tutoring session was actually done by mistake because I was given a tutoring session that I was not technically allowed to do. It seemed to go alright regardless but my first “real” tutoring session was quite the learning experience.

It was with an ESL student from Iran who was writing a 1.5 page essay on why she chose to attend Weber State University. She had already written the paper – which came complete with first draft commentary form her professor – and asked that I go over it to help her with structure issues as well as sentence level problems.

Interestingly enough, my best friend is high school was ESL from Iran so I was familiar with how Farsi compares to English. In this way, I was able to understand her issues with the translations she had put on paper. I was actually quite impressed with the caliber of writing she had achieved already. While there were clear issues in how she was trying to say things, I understood the gist of everything she was trying to say.

Needless to say, I was definitely scared. ESL students are a whole different ball game from native English speakers and you have to be really careful in how you convey writing concerns. You want to encourage and help develop their English writing abilities without making them self-conscious for mistakes in their papers.  However, I felt the session went really well. She was extremely responsive to edits and liked when I taught her the proper forms of verbs, past/present tense, and how to construct topic sentences that relate back to a thesis statement.

At the end of the session, I asked her if I had answered her questions and whether or not my input helped her understand how to improve her essay. She told me that she appreciated my understanding her difficulties with Farsi to English translations and said that she found my advice helpful. She even asked if she could come back the following day and have me look at her new draft – which she did. As far as first tutoring sessions go, I think this one went pretty well. Granted I was terrified at first, but once we found common ground I felt like we hit a good stride. Hopefully, I have sessions like this in the future.  


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