An Ongoing ESL Training Program in the Writing Center
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Currently, nearly 130,000 Chinese students are studying at higher education institutions in America (Xueqin par. 1). In a case study of 13 student visits to the Rutgers University Writing Center, Renee Pistone observes that the five ESL students in this group “indicated a high level of frustration (by a perceived lack of caring on the part of their Professors) who made comments on their assignments” (10). The students visiting Pistone’s center were looking for more than just help with their papers; they were looking for reassurance, kindness, and a clearer understanding of their professors’ expectations (10). While Pistone’s study does not deal specifically with Chinese ESL students, her observations reflect the kinds of interactions consultants in the writing center at my small Midwestern liberal arts college have encountered with the Chinese students that rely on us for writing assistance since our school has not yet instituted any language-specific support after the ESL sequence—a choice entirely common in American higher education institutions. As a new writing center coordinator in the midst of a growing China-based International Program, I struggle to train my consultants to work with a population that, aside from the financial gain to the institutions they attend, is largely ignored in terms of support services and trained personnel that meet their specific linguistic and cultural needs.