ELL in Writing Centers

Today Shanti Bruce spoke to members of the English department about working with English Language Learners, specifically in a writing center environment. Eventually we began to talk about the barriers that exist between ELL students and writing centers- why are some students reluctant to utilize those tools? One answer among many was the issue of privacy. Many people do not wish to publicly seek help because they find it embarrassing. Personally, I remember that feeling well. I didn’t want my fellow classmates to know that I was having trouble where they were not. Though I have moved past that discomfort in my own life, I believe that it is an issue that we should try to address for our students.

The first solution that came to my mind involved the utilization of technology. During the talk Bruce mentioned reluctance to isolate a tutor and student- which I would completely agree with. I would not want to be put in a private space with a stranger. But why don’t we use online conferencing technology in our writing centers? We could maintain a face to face conversation while allowing the student to keep something close to anonymity. With the prevalence of technology in our world it seems as though such a simple solution must have been considered before. Perhaps I will pursue this line of thought further.