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Writing Center continues international program

February 7, 2014

The influx of international and English Language Learner (ELL) students this academic year has called for the need of an individual tutoring program to help integrate those students into a liberal arts education in America. The Writing Center, headed by Assistant English Professor Bridget Draxler, started a new appointment-based tutoring system during the Fall 2013 semester where writing tutors meet one-on-one with an international student on a weekly basis. Last fall, the program helped five active participants. This semester, eight international students have signed up for the Writing Center’s program.

According to Draxler, the initiative was sparked by Brenda Tooley the Coordinator of International Recruitment and Ruby Pentsil-Bukari, Director of Intercultural Life, who recognized a need for such a program.

“One of the things we wanted to do in the Writing Centre was really make sure we are offering writing tutoring in a way that will help [international] students feel as comfortable as possible,” Draxler said. “When they meet week after week, they can build up a trust and relationship over the course of the semester with their tutor.”

The appointment-based individualized tutoring is offered to international and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) students. Students can volunteer to sign up for the program where a tutor will then be assigned to them.

Senior English major Tiffany Adams has been a tutor for the Writing Center since her freshman year. During her sophomore year, Adams took an Education course that required her to work with ELL students. Since then, Adams has been working with international students. Being a part of the Writing Center’s program was an easy transition for her where incoming tutors are now trained to tutor ELL students.

“The students I’ve worked with have seemed to grow. I see growth in them, but that’s not to say they see growth in themselves. It’s really hard as a writer to look at yourself and see how you’ve grown,” Adams said.

Adams currently has one student who she meets with on an “as needed” basis. “This semester he’s just not doing as much writing,” she said.

Along with tutoring for the Writing Center, Adams made a video with fellow writing tutors senior Christina Durante and recent graduate Lauren Becker (Fall ’13) to promote Monmouth College tutoring services to perspective international students.

“It’s really so international students coming to Monmouth College would have a better knowledge of the college and the Writing Center and the support and services that we can provide them. We incorporated as much information in a friendly and inviting way as possible,” Adams said. Her video can be found on YouTube under the title “Monmouth College Writing Center.”

Backing the success of the Writing Center’s newly developed program is Syrian international student Khader Eskendar. Eskendar signed up for the program after much urging from his English 110 professor. Eskendar does not currently have a tutor, but attributes that to the success he gained by participating in the program fall semester.

“I really needed something—how to organize my sentences. I had the ideas but I didn’t know how to express it correctly and how to be grammatically correct and use vocablualry and formatting,” Eskendar said. “We went from step to step until I became better. Now my writing skills are good enough to do the assigned homework by myself.”

In Syria, Eskendar said the writing style is completely different. Writers in Syria rely on emotion to attract readers. “Here, it is ‘get to the point.’” Eskendar said if he had more writing classes next semester he would not hesitate to re-enroll in the program.

“The main obstacle [as an international student] is to get the language and improve writing skills,” Eskendar said, “because everything here in the education system involves writing.”

Stevie Croisant

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