Tutor profile: Stephen M.
Subject: English as a Second Language
What is the most difficult aspect of an ESL student trying to write an effective 10-page literary analysis paper?
This is another question that I was frequently asked during my time as a tutor for many ESL students at the junior college level. Quite frankly, all of my experience has taught me that there is no one answer to this question, as the English language is so complex even for native speakers that progress towards an effective piece of composition can only be made through specific identification of struggles and attempts being made toward mastering them. Whether it be the improper use of articles, verb tenses, or a lack of subject/verb agreements, I have seen great progression from ESL students only after recognizing that their efforts should be focused on a sole aspect of their writing, no matter how incoherent it may appear as a whole. This provides a simple way of addressing the abundance of needs that ESL students face in developing their composititon skills of an entirely new language and also relieves some of their stress at the same time, promoting a beneficial learning environment.
What is the importance of reading literature from 2000 years ago that was published halfway across the world? If the rhetoric seemingly has no effect on the contemporary world, then why bother designing university classes around this subject matter?
As an English major I am frequently asked this question by my peers who have little interest in English and question the value of literary knowledge from centuries ago. Quite frankly, the way that I always respond to this question and the reality of the situation is that the English language and communication in general has proven to be such a vital aspect of civilization on Earth over the years that it rivals the arguably more recognizable subject fields such as mathematics and the sciences. Without the documentation that the English language has provided for centuries, we would never know about the English lifestyle during the Renaissance period, or have so much detailed knowledge about the American Civil War. The use of the English language and communication has allowed civilization for thousands of years to accurately document some of the most noteworthy events in the history of mankind that would simply be verbal myths without language. So as it may appear that Medieval Literature for example has no bearing on us as we stand here in 2016, the reality of the situation is that our global history and all of our knowledge is solely based on our ability to accurately document and communicate the events of today for those 2000 years down the road.
What is the most effective way that a university instructor can relay the concepts of their lesson plan while keeping in mind the sometimes drastic differences in student learning strategies?
In all of my experience as an undergraduate student, I have been exposed to a variety of different teaching strategies that may or may not have been ideal for the way that my brain engages with the information presented in front of me. Such is the case with many students in our contemporary university system, the dilemma of a more kinesthetic learner for example having to sit through dozens of powerpoint slides for lecture on a daily basis can be problematic. This is why I am encouraged to find many instructors trying to make even small adaptations to the way that they present their information to their students in an effort to maximize the engagement of the kinesthetic, visual, and tactile learners alike. In truth, there is no one way to present an intellectual concept to ensure full engagement and active participation on the part of the students, however there are ways- such as incorporating multimedia, group work, etc., to ensure that the vast majority of the individuals receiving the information are doing so to their advantage.
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