Responding to ESL Student Text

As a Business Portfolio consultant, most of the text encountered will be in the form of a narrative. It is important to note that many consulting strategies must be adapted in order to assist UR's ESL business students. Here are some helpful suggestions to maximize sessions with second-language students.

1. Respond first to the organization of ESL student portfolios. Focus on global errors, those areas that affect the reader’s overall comprehension, giving isolated grammatical errors less attention. Addressing global errors will prove extremely effective and efficient during a limited session.

2. Listen to what students are trying to say on paper and help them make sense of it.

3. Encourage students to talk through what they want to say in each paragraph, describing its focus and content.

4. Ask questions to clarify what the student is communicating. For non-native speakers, a facilitative approach is recommended while ESL students should be given a more directive approach.

5. Paraphrase what the ESL student has said to see if you understand correctly.

It is important to remember that too much help can prove detrimental to the ESL student’s confidence. Overwhelming amounts of assistance should be avoided. Try focusing on a handful of problems to insure they grasp the advice given and feel improvements have been made. Additional areas of concern can always be made during subsequent sessions.

The following suggestions were made possible by Leigh Ryan’s Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors.

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