Alif… Baa… Taa: Tutoring Through a Different Lens

By October 8, 2012Peer Writing Tutoring

The UCWbL’s Peter D. is studying in Jordan this semester.  Tune in here for this exciting series on language, learning, and culture.

I began my work at the Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) in Amman, Jordan last week. JRS is an organization founded by the Catholic Jesuits but is now religiously unaffiliated and tends to people from a variety of backgrounds.  It focuses on aiding the refugee populations of Amman, including the large Syrian, Palestinian, Iraqi, Somalian, and Sudanese communities, and offers all kinds of resources – ranging from education and daycare assistance to ESL immersion and higher education opportunities – that serve as lifelines of much-needed support for those adjusting to life after displacement and exile.

After some time hopping around between various child-care slots and ESL programs, I finally landed in a spot where I hope my work at the UCWbL will benefit students thousands of miles away from DePaul – in the adult degree accreditation program.

In this program, refugees in Amman desiring to pursue a baccalaureate degree can sign up for a special online distance-learning program through partner university institutions in the United States. As such, the students, who range from their early twenties to late fifties, must complete a variety of writing exercises and assignments. I told JRS about my work as a Writing Fellow with the UCWbL and said that I would be a valuable tutoring resource for these students. I immediately signed up.

While my tutoring work does not begin until next week, I wanted to reflect on some ways that this experience would differ from my work at DePaul. Since English is not the native language of many students here, my work will focus less on advanced process and more on basic and advanced syntax, grammatical, and constructional concerns in the students’ writing. I also wonder about how I might develop creative strategies to help students remember and correct consistent mistakes, as this was not a prominent aspect of my work as a writing fellow. I also fear that the language barrier might be an issue, as I do not have the language capacity to describe English grammatical rules in Arabic.

While this is the case, I look forward to working with my first students this week. My next post will focus on how my Arabic immersion is affecting my writing process (in both languages) and a brief update on my work as a writing tutor at JRS.

Until next time!

Peter

Want more?  See Peter’s previous post here.