Thursday, September 12, 2013

Opposite Problem

Hello Blog!

This week has been really exciting as far as using what I have been learning about in class and applying that to my sessions. I am really trying to find the language to describe errors that makes sense to the students. I am starting to get better at talking about organization and grammar concepts in the “proper way,” which is also a logical way to describe things.

As far as the question “de la semaine,” I do not think that I have come across a situation yet in which the student is looking for something very specific, such as a comma splice, and yet is unwilling to accept the big picture. It seems that most people I have tutored so far are more concerned about the big picture and less about the smaller details. However, sometimes the smaller details can break a paper too.

For instance, I did have a session this week where all the student was worried about was the organization and flow of the paper. She recognized that she had bad spelling and apologized in advance, but she was far more worried about the big picture. Usually that is a good thing. The only problem was that her organization and flow were very clear and very good. Here real problem was with comma splices and run on sentences. Her paper was riddled with them. She did not recognize that she was doing anything wrong when she did not use any punctuation or she put a comma before a complete sentence without a fanboys. Even though what she had worried about was more important, I believe that her professor would have been extremely upset with her lack of correct punctuation. Frankly, even though the paper was well organized and well written with logical sense, it was really hard to follow sometimes because of her lack of correct grammar. In this case, I think the smaller picture was the more important focus.

What is one to do? At first, I was heavy handed with the praise of her work as far as ideas, organization, clarity, and structure were concerned. I then handled the situation by pointing out a few of the comma splices and run on sentences. I tried to explain to her that it is important to use fanboys and periods because without them, sentences are either not linked together as cohesive thoughts or they are so long and drug out that the reader has a hard time following what is going on in each thought. Sometimes it is better to keep thoughts concise so that each thought is given the gravity and uniqueness that it deserves. Sometimes it is better to keep thoughts together so that they build upon each other and give credibility to each other. Either way, by using correct grammatical punctuation within sentences, it strengthens the argument. I also told her that her professor would probably appreciate it too.

Her response to my praise was surprise. Her response to my correction was confusion. She did not seem to want to learn the concepts, as if they did not matter. The more I explained how it would be good for her overall flow and her grade, the more she came around. By the end, she was willing to fix the mistakes, but she was still unsure of the correction I had given. Perhaps next time I should consult another source or another tutor to see if they can explain the concept better.


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