UWC Faculty Services

Main ImageHelping Non-Native Speakers - Typical ESL Problems

More than half of the students enrolled at CSULA are non-native speakers of English. While many non-native speakers become very fluent in spoken English, writing in English often remains challenging. Non-native speakers have problems with features of the language that never trouble native-speakers. For example, until recently, most standard handbooks did not even address problems with articles or prepositions, because native-speakers rarely get them wrong. These are major problem areas for ESL students, however.

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Helping ESL Students Improve their Writing

More than 50% of CSLA students are non-native speakers of English. Often these students produce written work that is filled with grammatical errors, odd syntax, and inappropriate word choices, even when they seem to have a good understanding of the concepts and the materials of the course. How can we help these students become more fluent writers and speakers of English? Stephen Krashen's language acquisition theory is a good starting point. First, Krashen distinguishes between language acquisition and language learning. For Krashen, second language acquisition is a natural unconscious process similar to first language acquisition. Language learning, on the other hand, is the development of conscious knowledge about a language—rules, forms, etc. Krashen's view is that conscious learning has no effect on unconscious acquisition, a position that has generated considerable controversy.

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Articles about Teaching Writing

Good Assignments: A How-To Guide
What do you want students to learn? How does the assignment serve the objectives of the course? Is it designed to demonstrate content mastery, to teach disciplinary practices and procedures, or both? A writing assignment can be a learning tool as well as an evaluation method.

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Responding to Student Writing
It is helpful to think of a writing assignment as initiating a dialogue between student and instructor. The assignment itself is the first conversational turn, the first draft is a response.
The instructor's comments are another turn in the conversation, and the revised draft is
another response.

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Writing to Learn: Assigning Un-graded Writing
The connection between writing and understanding is the foundation for a category of writing assignments called "Writing- to-Learn." These assignments include different types of journals and notebooks, correspondence, problem-solving, question-posing, free writing, lecture and reading summaries, expressive and exploratory writing.

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What is an "A" Paper?
Evaluating writing is always a matter of weighing and balancing numerous factors, and an element of subjectivity is unavoidable. How much should cogent arguments and accurate facts count? What about organization and style? Are grammatical errors important? Should we consider effort and improvement?

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Readability, Clarity, and Style
Have you ever picked up a piece of writing by a student, a friend or a colleague, that seemed intelligent and well-informed, but was quite difficult to read? Did you have trouble figuring out exactly what was going wrong? It is likely that the problem had to do with the writer's style.

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Breath, Grammar, and Proper Punctuation
Most writers, even professional writers, feel uncertain about proper punctuation on occasion. We expect punctuation to be governed by rules, but taste, style, and even breathing patterns also have influence.

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Ancient Rhetoric and Modern Literacy

Why do some of our students write poorly? How do we teach students to speak and write well? In reality, these are ancient questions that go back to the origins of rhetoric.

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Other Services

Instructor/Tutor Dialogue Form

This form is designed to facilitate communication between the Writing Center tutors and Instructors.

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Request for Writing Services Form

This form is used for requesting specific services from the writing center. Starting with 15 min. presentations to a UWC tour.

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