Dialogue on Writing: Rethinking ESL, Basic Writing, and First-Year Composition

By Geraldine Deluca; Len Fox et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 23
Strangers in Academia: The
Experiences of Faculty and ESL
Students Across the Curriculum
Vivian Zamel

Vivian Zamel is Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she directs the English as a Second Language Program and teaches composition courses for ESL students as well as graduate courses on ESL theory and pedagogy. She has researched and published extensively on the writing and learning of linguistically diverse learners. She coauthored, with University of Massachusetts colleagues Eleanore Kutz and Suzie Q. Groden, The Discovery of Competence: Teaching and Learning with Diverse Student Writers (Boynton/Cook, 1993) and coedited, with Ruth Spack, Negotiating Academic Literacies: Teaching and Learning Across Languages and Cultures (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1998). The following article is from College Composition and Communication, 46, December 1995.

When I go into a classroom these days, I look around and feel like I'm in a different country.

—Professor of Management

A few weeks age a professor came by the reading, writing and study skills center where I tutor. He was with a young Asian woman, obviously one of his students. He “deposited” her in the center, claiming that she desperately needed help with her English. The woman stared into the distance with a frightened, nervous look on her face and tried to force a smile. She handed me a paper she had written on the labor union and asked if I could help her make corrections. After a short introductory discussion, we looked at the paper that we were about to revise—it was filled with red marks indicating spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors; the only written response was something along the lines of “You need serious help with your English. Please see a tutor. ”

—From a tutor's journal

Students in the lab speak to one another in their own language so that they make sure they know what they are doing. So they may look like they are not listening to the lab teacher. He feels so isolated from them. He feels he has no control, no power. So he may get angry.

— An ESL student

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