6 September 2005 - Tuesday

Learning the language

I am resuming my work as an English tutor this semester. My first section of English Review was this morning; I have a section that meets on Thursdays as well. I am pleased to find that these classes are smaller than the ones I had last semester. (I speak of these classes as mine; in fact, each has another tutor on hand as well as a professor.)

English Review comprises a set of some two dozen sequential modules (e.g., "Avoiding Fragments," "Semicolons and Colons," and "Pronoun Reference"). Students are assigned some or all of these modules based on their score on a proficiency test. A student completes a module by writing a short paper that demonstrates competence in the relevant area of grammar or style. The instructor or one of the tutors reviews each of these papers in class, pointing out any problems that need to be corrected.

This is a nerve-racking experience for the students, of course. They have to read their papers aloud, often to a tutor younger than they are. Sometimes every sentence has an error that must be corrected, and sometimes students make the same errors over and over despite their best efforts. I'm sure it is terrifying.

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