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The last eighteen years of my life have been spent teaching adult students both American and foreign how to improve their writing assignments. Where did this tutoring skill and a new profession begin? Both were initiated at Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan. A sweet Vietnamese girl was struggling with a technical writing assignment, so MCC's Tutoring Department inquired for help from the Editorial Services Department where I was working. My supervisor offered her my services. That was just the beginning. This later led to a second job at Oakland Community College in Royal Oak, Michigan. As an English and ESL tutor and workshop presenter there, a student's success in written literacy was paramount to the job I held.
Through ongoing efforts in trying to determine my students' problems and needs, I developed seminars and an exercise file that would give them emergency grammar and punctuation brush-ups in areas of English they either never learned or often forgot. Writing was an easy task for me, being a reporter by trade, but imparting this skill to them--that came so natural to me--was a challenge. With guidance obtained from compassion and empathy, students trusted my judgment and enjoyed my company, eagerly putting forth creative work. I would like to offer this type of relationship to you. A student once complimented, "You have a gift." What good is a gift if you don't give it away? Please note: I have worked with adults 18 and over. I would prefer not to work with youngsters unless they are upper level high school and studious. English, like many subjects, takes practice/repetition. The person has to want it.
There are three important ladies in my life right now. Dominika, Alicja, and Kasia are Polish women who have chosen to remain in the United States, and they all are my ESL students. It is a pleasure to work with them as it has been to work with many of my foreign students because as they learn English from me, I learn about their culture and language from them. This type of rapport makes this difficult period of adapting to another country and its language actually pleasurable. Since 1995, I must have taught adults from all corners of the earth. I can proudly say they learned and they loved. I have shared more laughs and tears with them than with my own friends. I have seen in them improved confidence success and most importantly independence. Although I have a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Michigan, the last decade or two of tutoring and teaching ESL in colleges, companies and private homes has trained me to understand and remedy the difficulties non-native speakers have with our language.
In addition to the light-hearted ESL approach,there are required books: grammar text and workbook, duel-language dictionary--and a good one--and an ESL dictionary. My most used text is part of the Longman series; it dives right into verbs before anything else. I prefer my students know their verb tenses well enough not to hesitate moving on unless they are confident about all twelve tenses. The book continues with the other essentials. We do not move forward unless the student understands each chapter again with confidence. Keeping a diary is always suggested, but all teaching materials and assignments are recommended on an individual basis.
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