Case Study: A Japanese Student in English Classes

Date: 9-7-92
From: Joe Essid

Keiko Suzuki, a student in your Advanced composition class, came in to the Writing Center to receive help with an assignment. A brief report of the tutoring session follows.

Keiko came to the center on Friday, Sept. 4 with a partial draft of her paper on culture shock. For most of our tutoring session, we concentrated on two "global" issues in her prose, writing transitions' and focusing paragraphs. We also examined the "local" issue of sharpening Keiko's command of some English idiomatic expressions.

We read her entire draft, and she had several. questions about word choice and organization. After the session, she had more confidence in being able to finish the paper; I urged her to more fully develop her examples and expand her discussion of her own stages of culture shock in the US.

Keiko returned to the center today with a much more fully developed revision of her essay. She had incorporated transitional devices and paragraphs, provided stronger examples, and proofread her use of English idioms. I was impressed with Keiko's hard work on the paper; while she still had difficulty with some idioms and with overusing passive voice, she had clearly spent a good deal of time rethinking and revising her work.

During our two sessions, I provided Keiko with copies of Writer's Web's handouts on transitions and active voice/action verbs. These will provide her with additional models for revising future work. Her remaining concern was with fulfilling the requirements of your assignment. I told her that I could not fully assess this, and I advised her to ask you about this issue.


Date: 9/22
From: Heather Logan, Writing Center Tutor

Keiko Suzuki, a student in your Independent Study class, came in to the Writing Center to receive help with an assignment. A brief report of the tutoring session follows.Keiko came to the Writing Center with a rough draft on "The Silver Dish." For most of our tutoring session we worked on her thesis statement and introductory paragraph.

Keiko bad a lot of questions about her writing that her paper included more plot through her introduction, and I asked her several questions the short story. She was able to answer clearly each about the character of Woody, with evidence from the text. As we worked through several questions, it was evident that Keiko's thoughts were very logically ordered. Her paper, however, was not. I suggested that she write these thoughts down and talk to herself as she was writing in order to get a better grasp of organization for her paper. She seemed to like this idea and planned to try it.

Keiko had many questions about how to decide what the main point of the story was and what aspects of the story to include in her paper. I suggested that she talk to you further on this matter. Keiko left the session saying that she planned to write another draft. She also made another appointment at the Writing Center for Monday, September 28.


Date: 9/28
From: Jen Weiskopf and Melissa Lesher, Writing Center Tutors

Keiko Suzuki, a student in your Independent Study class, came in to the Writing Center to receive help with an assignment. A brief report of the tutoring session follows.

Keiko came to the Writing Center with rough drafts of her two papers on "noh" and "feminist criticism." For most of the tutoring session, we worked on structure and organization within the papers.

Keiko showed us the class assignment and asked us to look over her drafts to ensure that the were clear and understandable. Because the organization of the drafts made them somewhat difficult to understand, we asked Keiko questions about the subject matter. She was able to answer all our questions clearly, which made it easier for her to rephrase her ideas. Keiko's paragraphs were not developed in a logical fashion. In both drafts, we suggested she move the dictionary definitions of "noh" and "feminist criticism" so that they follow the introductory paragraph. We also helped Keiko with understanding the need for articles such as "a" and "the" before certain terms.

By the end of the session, she was able to recognize where she needed to include these articles.

Keiko left the Writing Center with a better sense of how to organize her papers. When she left, she made another appointment for October 5.


Date:10/5

From: Melissa Lesher and Dawn Ziegenbalg, Writing Center Tutors

Keiko Suzuki, a student in your Independent Study, came in to the Writing Center to receive help with an assignment. A brief report of the tutoring session follows.

Keiko came into the Writing Center with a draft of an outline for her paper on "Silver Dish." She asked us to look over the outline and review its organization before she began writing her paper.

In discussing the outline, she developed a thesis that was different from what she had written originally. Part of this thesis was placed toward the end of the outline, under Roman numeral three. Last week, in a tutoring session with Melissa, Keiko's main point was also buried at the end of the paper. Keiko said this results from her schooling in the Japanese style of writing, where development is left to the end of the composition.

The discussion also revealed that Keiko had some difficulty with word choice. In particular, she used the word "unselfish" to mean without an identity, rather than putting others above oneself. Keiko left the Writing Center feeling more confident about the organization of her outline and made an appointment for next Monday.



Date: 10/6

From:Heather Logan, Writing Center Tutor

Keiko Suzuki, a student in your English 327 class, came in to the Writing Center to receive help with an assignment. A brief report of the tutoring session follows.

Keiko brought in an outline for her paper on "Bent" and also had several questions about the paper she would be writing on "Death of A Salesman."

Keiko's outline on "Bent" was very clear and concise. She recognized the importance of Max's breathing as his means for coping with his problems. She, however, was not sure how to express this as the topic of her paper. We talked through several suggestions, and she decided to address three separate instances in which Max used his breathing to deal with a shock, focusing on how each instance demonstrated Max's struggle to accept his homosexuality.

Keiko had previously outlined all these instances, and we worked through them together in relation to her chosen topic. Keiko's main questions centered on how to integrate all these instances into her chosen theme. We discussed several possibilities with Keiko deciding to work each instance into separate paragraphs that would include a discussion of how Max used his breathing to deal with each shock. Keiko seemed to feel comfortable about getting started with her paper using this outline.

Keiko also had several brief questions about her paper on "Death of A Salesman." She wanted to know how she should choose a topic for this particular paper. She told me she was very interested in the character of Linda. I suggested she begin with general characteristics of Linda and her situation and then move to the more specific. Keiko said she was interested in Linda as a wife and a mother and might work from this basis. Keiko had many questions. She was genuinely concerned about her writing, particularly her word choice and mechanics. When she left, she scheduled another appointment at the Writing Center next week.



Date:10/6

From: Heather Logan, writing center Tutor

Keiko Suzuki, a student in your Independent Study class, came in to the Writing Center to receive help with an assignment. A brief report of the tutoring session follows.

Keiko brought in two outlines for her paper on "The Silver Dish." She was concerned that her outlines did not accurately guide her in developing her paper's organization.

We worked through each separate outline. One centered on many aspects of the story's plot and had a fairly general topic. The other one, however, had a more specific topic and used quotations from the story to support this topic.

We worked to combine the two outlines into one. Keiko recognized the importance of Max's discovery concerning the silver dish and his father as a major turning point in Max's life but was unsure how to organize this into a paper. She wanted to include a great deal of background information rather than focusing on the topic at hand.

After discussing several options concerning organization, Keiko decided to focus on what Max was like before his discovery concerning the silver dish, what happened when he made the discovery, and what Max was like after the discovery. She also decided to incorporate background issues into these three main divisions rather than making them separate issues.

When Keiko left the session, she seemed to have a better idea about how to organize her paper. She was genuinely concerned about her writing, particularly her word choice and mechanics. She scheduled another appointment at the Writing Center next week.


Date: l0/7

From: Joscie Boston, Writing Center Tutor

Keiko Suzuki, student in your English 327 class, came in to the Writing Center to receive help with an assignment. A brief report of the tutoring session follows.

Keiko Suzuki brought in a draft Of the assignment due October 15, in which she was discussing the play Bent. Keiko was concerned about both the content of her paper and the clarity and grammatical correctness of her writing. I suggested the possibility of discussing why the main character's feelings changed during the course of the play.

I also worked with Keiko in expressing her ideas more clearly in English, questioning her about phrases where I did not understand her meaning. We looked at some of the grammatical mistakes, focusing on English rules of grammar, especially idiomatic expressions.

Keiko seemed to understand everything we discussed, and worked very hard to improve her writing during the tutoring session.


Date: Oct. 10, 1992

From: Jennifer Weiskopf, Writing Center Tutor

Keiko Suzuki, a student in your English 327 class, came in to the Writing Center to receive help with an assignment. A brief report of the tutoring session follows.

Keiko brought a draft of her paper on Linda's acceptance of Willy's weaknesses in Death of a Salesman to the Writing Center for help with grammar and organization. At first, Keiko referred to Linda's acceptance of Willy's reality and I asked her to clarify what kind of reality that she was talking about. It took a while for her to realize the ambiguity of the word reality, but by the end of the session, she realized that her paper focused on Willy's weaknesses and not his perception of reality.

Keiko and I looked at adding more description into her introduction. Keiko tried to incorporate her use of quotations into sentences, so that she didn't have to list the speaker's name in front of the quote. Keiko often included her opinion in the middle of a paragraph. I suggested that she relate her statement to the play and show how she arrived at such a conclusion by supporting it with an example from the play. We also looked at the conclusion of her paper to check if it adequately summarized her main points.


Spring Semester Reports


Date: 1/21

From: Jennifer Nevins, Writing Center Tutor

Keiko Suzuki, a student in your English 327 class, came in to the Writing Center to receive help with an assignment. A brief report of the tutoring session follows.

Keiko came in for help with her paper, which was a mini-report on a poem. When she first arrived, I thought she wanted help with the organization of her paper. But then she began to ask questions about the functions of the thesis statement, introduction and conclusion. I discussed the functions of each of these with her, and printed some sheets from Writer's Web about introductions and conclusions.

Keiko also asked if I had any examples of comparison and contrast papers. I looked for a manual which might have some examples. I ended up giving Keiko the St. Martin's Handbook to borrow for a week.

Keiko said her paper is due Monday. Because I didn't really feel that I had helped her at all, I told her that I would be in the Writing Center Friday morning if she needed further help with her paper.


Date: 1/22

From: Jennifer Nevins, Writing Center Tutor

Keiko Suzuki, a student in your English 326 class, came in to the Writing Center to receive help with an assignment. A brief report of the tutoring session follows.

Keiko came in with a rough draft of her paper about Yeats' poem. She wanted me to look over her paper for correct sentence structure and word choice. I read over her paper and pointed out parts which contained awkward sentence structure or inappropriate word choice. We discussed why these parts needed to be corrected and how they could be changed.

Keiko also wanted to make sure her paper made sense and that her paragraphs were organized correctly. I told her that the paragraphs seemed to be organized logically, as they followed the stanzas of the poem. The paper also seemed to support her thesis statement and the main points in each of her topic sentences.

However, Keiko needed to add a conclusion to her paper, so we discussed what she might do in the conclusion. She said she would also consult the Writer's Web handouts that I had previously given her. Keiko then left to revise her paper.


Date: 3/2

From: Susan Breeden, Writing Center Tutor

Keiko Suzuki, a student in your English 541 class, came in to the Writing Center to receive help with an assignment. A brief report of the tutoring session follows.

Keiko was attempting to analyze a number of book reviews of Lillian Smith's novel, Strange Fruit, and she brought in a draft she was working on. While in the draft Keiko had analyzed each review, there was no overall structure, and as a reader I was left overwhelmed with all the different points of view she had recorded.

I suggested that Keiko develop some way to organize her paper so the ideas were more accessible to the reader. We spent a lot of time discussing the whole idea of structure and its importance in a paper. This seemed to be a new concept to Keiko. She stated that in Japan the only requirement is to put down a large number of ideas.

Keiko and I discussed possible ways she could set up her paper. One idea we discussed was the possibility of choosing three or four main themes and then dealing with how each reviewer covers, or doesn't cover each. One theme Keiko wanted to deal with was how each reviewer compared the novel to the historical reality of racism. Another possible theme she talked of including was each reviewer's reaction to, and/or analysis of, the novelist's technique.

Keiko and I briefly discussed a few of the grammar mistakes and phrasing errors she had made. In general these were few.

I think Keiko left with a clearer idea of the importance of an overall structure for her paper. She seemed to have several ideas in mind for reorganizing and revising.


Date: 3/16

From: Susan Breeden, Writing Center Tutor

Keiko Suzuki, a student in your English 541 class, came in to the Writing Center to receive help with an assignment. A brief report of the tutoring session follows.

Keiko brought in the first draft of a paper in which she was attempting to analyze a work (Dori Sander's novel Clover) in relation to the author's life and times. She had a number of good ideas but no real focus.

Keiko and I talked about the importance of a thesis in focusing a paper and worked together to define her main purpose in this paper. I emphasized the fact that she does not need to include all the information she has found on the author, but only that which contributes to her purpose, in this case illuminating the novel.

Keiko and I then worked together to outline her ideas. Outlining was a new concept to Keiko. We spent a lot of time working on the outline and I emphasized its importance in helping her to organize her ideas and construct some type of hierarchy.

Again, I find it hard to tell how much Keiko absorbed. The concepts of hierarchy and structure in an essay seemed new to her. She had obviously read the novel and several articles on the author, but with no clear focus she was at a loss as to what is important and how to arrange her ideas. When she left she seemed to have a focus in mind for her paper.


Date: 3/23

From: Joe Essid & Jen Euchner

Keiko Suzuki, a student in your English 326 class, brought in a draft of her essay analyzing the role of imagination in Stevens' "Anecdote of the Jar" and "The Idea of Order at Key West." She had not yet written the section of the paper about John Keats, whose "Ode on a Grecian Urn" would provide a contrast to Stevens. Keiko was concerned that her paper was really two unconnected essays. She wanted us to look over this draft before she revises it and submits it to your Writing Fellows.

While we found connections between her discussions of Stevens' two poems, we both felt that Keiko needed to make the connections more explicit. For instance, Keiko stated that artistic imagination was able to master nature in "Jar" whereas nature was more elusive in "Key West." We both felt that this connection was a fascinating point but we had to work hard to see the connection while reading. We stopped our reading frequently in order to ask Keiko to clarify certain points or to ask her how she might better connect passages.

Generally, Keiko's paper alternated between passages of prose that neither of us could follow and other passages, especially in her discussion of "Key West," that presented a lucid analysis of her subject. This inconsistency in Keiko's writing may come from her lack of experience with thesis- and- support patterns. Her strong points seemed to cluster at the end, rather than at the beginning, of her essay.

We ended the session with a few questions about how she might connect Keats' ideas and those of Stevens. She plans to write the section about Keats' poem next, and then she will submit that draft to your Writing Fellows.


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