ELL INSPIRATION Consultations with Non-native Speakers Provides Insight into Teaching English Grammar

By Hilary Langberg
Graduate and Undergraduate Writing Consultant, UWC
Ph.D Candidate, Asian Studies
University of Texas at Austin

By roughly halfway though my first semester as a graduate and undergraduate consultant at UT Austin's University Writing Center (UWC), a major portion of my work involved collaborating with English Language Learners to help improve their grammar and sentence-level clarity. The major challenge for me was finding ways to be non-directive: to teach lasting skills rather than make quick, proofreading-type fixes. With the support and guidance of Sara Saylor, the UWC Peer Grad Coordinator, I've learned how to avoid inadvertently taking on the role of editor. After working with more than forty ELL students (both undergraduate and graduate) over the course of this academic year, I've also gained valuable insights into the major hurdles of learning English, as well as its grammatical ambiguities. The following is a summation of the knowledge I've gained on both fronts, particularly with regard to article use.