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ESL and Non-Standard English Writing Instruction Hiram College WAC October 14, 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "ESL and Non-Standard English Writing Instruction Hiram College WAC October 14, 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 ESL and Non-Standard English Writing Instruction Hiram College WAC October 14, 2010

2 Two Primary Concerns How do we introduce the student to conventions and styles of academic prose, BUT ALSO allow them to maintain distinctive voice, idiom and way of approaching writing How do we address the patterns of grammar and usage problems, BUT ALSO teach students to correct their own grammar issues.

3 Conventions of Academic Prose and ESL Writers Student essays seem strange and unfocused Students seem unable or unwilling to make a point or come to a conclusion Students shy from presenting their own ideas, relying exclusively on sources.

4 Introduce Western Academic Prose Attempt to balance between teaching American style of academic prose and working with them to make their essays correct but still distinct. Probe students about their plan for writing an essay. How do they organize? Why? Introduce the five paragraph essay format stressing the importance of a straightforward thesis.

5 Play to their cultural strengths Encourage them to play upon their cultural difference in their writing. They may or may not realize the strength this gives them in details, perspective, and cultural perspective Pick topics that relate to their experience. What is new in their experience that will be interesting to the reader? Teach them how to translate that experience to a western academic audience.

6 Don’t eradicate cultural accents Idioms: How and why do they translate? How can the writer use them in a way that is interesting and informative to the reader? Strange, indirect, or odd sentence construction: Does the student make choices that inform that sentence construction, or are they flailing in an attempt to write?

7 Teaching Patterns of Grammar Students use turns of phrase that seem almost nonsensical. Paper grading and comments devolve into editing. You can tell students what is wrong, but not why it is wrong You have trouble understanding student and their accent

8 ESL/NSL Priorities ESL students do need more help with grammar, but they often need help with higher order concerns as well. ▫Divide up time/comment space into percentage talking about grammar, percentage talking about higher order concerns. ▫Concentrate on only one to two grammar concerns, not all of them ▫Discuss the grammar concept in addition to the sentence at hand.

9 Teach a man to fish Read the essay aloud with the ESL student, or have the student read the essay aloud on their own. As you read over the essay, underline grammar errors that you see, but do not correct them. Ask students to make corrections. With ESL speakers, use the correct terminology. With NSE speakers, teach the correct terminology.

10 Common ESL Grammar Errors Since there are so many possibilities for error, respond to: ▫Stigmatizing errors are those that are most likely to annoy or put off either native-English-speaking readers or expert readers in the student's field. No matter the quality of the writing otherwise, stigmatizing errors can turn readers off. ▫Significant errors are those that may not necessarily stigmatize but that may impede comprehension. While a misplaced comma may not interfere with a text's readability in many cases, problems with verb tense or idiom may produce serious misunderstandings. ▫Persistent errors are those that occur frequently and appear to follow a pattern. ▫(U of Utah’s ESL Writing Initiative)

11 Common ESL Grammar Errors ▫Article use:  Indefinite versus definite articles.  Count versus non-count  First mention versus subsequent mention ▫Count versus Noncount Nouns:  Count nouns can be counted,  Non-count can’t (abstractions) ▫Verb tenses you don’t usually get to:  Past perfect, Present perfect ▫Misuse of Vocabulary, especially synonyms.

12 Common NSE Style & Grammar Errors Transfer of spoken language directly to the page, including: ▫Lack of punctuation or misuse of punctuation. ▫Misuse of homophones: confusing terms and words due to pronunciation rather than their correct meaning. ▫Overly conversational prose, including extensive use of slang.

13 Resources Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL): ▫Purdue OWLPurdue OWL ESL Writing Initiative, University of Utah: ▫ESL Writing InitiativeESL Writing Initiative

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