Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Let's Look Over the LIEP Tutoring Program by Dong-Joo Lee of Korea

Mr. Dong-Joo Lee of Korea
I am Dong-Joo Lee, an exchange student from Sogang University in Seoul, Korea. I am majoring in economics. A great deal of economics knowledge is written in English, so fluency in English is essential for studying economics. For upgrading my English, I am now taking two classes in the Pilot Program of the Loyola Intensive English Program (LIEP), as well as some courses in other fields at Loyola University New Orleans.

Students in the Loyola Intensive English Program have the opportunity for meeting their own tutor. As a student in the Loyola Intensive English Program, I have a tutor. Generally, I meet him twice a week for one hour each session, during which I get advice about writing essays and engage in English conversation with him. I certainly feel satisfied with this tutoring program, and I think it is one of the merits of the Loyola Intensive English Program. So I want to let students know about this tutoring program, and I decided to create this blog post. This post handles the LIEP tutoring program from top to toe, so that you will know the tutoring program better after reading it. I have done several interviews to investigate the LIEP tutoring program.

First, I met Ms. Jess Haley, who is the LIEP Academic Director. One of her tasks is to administer the tutoring program.

I: Can you briefly introduce what the tutoring program is?

Ms. Jess Haley,
LIEP Academic Director 
JESS: Of course! The tutoring program is a special characteristic of our Loyola Intensive English Program. Frequently, intensive English students have difficulty making friends with native English speakers and starting natural conversation with them. So we arrange for each LIEP student to work with a U.S. American who is a university student: either a graduate student or an undergraduate student. The tutors can help LIEP students with their homework assignments, but also they can help them culturally adapt to New Orleans. So LIEP tutors frequently become really good friends for LIEP students.

I: What benefits do you expect for LIEP students from this tutoring program?

JESS: I think that LIEP students can get a lot of benefits. They get a lot of realistic practice in a way that they cannot get in the class. They also have fun with tutors because it is not class and they do what they need. They can talk about U.S. American television, New Orleans culture, and Mardi-Gras. They can do that with tutors rather than with their teachers whom they can confront in the class. I think one of the most important things for LIEP students in tutoring is that they get to choose what they want to do during tutoring. So if students feel that they want to practice pronunciation more or they want to practice reading more, they can choose what they want in their tutoring. It is their choice. I think that’s important. They can have power in language learning.

I: I guess it will be demanding to select a nice tutor for this program. What kinds of qualities do you think are important for a tutor?

JESS: Oh, that’s an excellent question. I think the most important quality for tutoring that I look for when I interview with people is interest and diversity of culture—interest in knowing more about the world and how different people are. Also I would frequently like to choose tutors who have already traveled at least in two or three countries. Not only do they understand that culture is a diverse phenomenon but also they have experienced the same feeling as our LIEP students do—the feeling of being in a new place where you feel kind of alone and different from everyone around you. Our LIEP tutors have experienced that, too, because they have studied abroad and have been in other countries, so that they can be considerate toward their tutees.

According to Jess, there are six LIEP tutors, and each of them works with two to six LIEP students depending on their schedules. I found that Jess considers this tutoring program as a really special aspect of the Loyola Intensive English Program, and she feels proud that LIEP has this tutoring program.

Next, I wanted to hear a tutor’s thinking about this tutoring program. So I met with LIEP tutor Mr. Evan Davenport. Evan has grown up in a suburban New Orleans neighborhood. He teaches English in a U.S. American High school. He also teaches English at a church in a Vietnamese neighborhood. Evan has a B.A. in creative writing and an M.A. in teaching English. He wants to continue his education, planning to teach English in Vietnam.

I: Why did you apply for this tutoring job?

Mr. Evan Davenport,
LIEP Tutor
EVAN: Because it is a rare opportunity to teach students. If you want to be a teacher, you have to compete against hundreds of other people. There are very few teaching jobs. Most schools are not just saying, “Here are students. We want you to teach them.” But the Loyola Intensive English Program said, “We will give you some students for tutoring.” So I thought it was a great opportunity to practice teaching skills.

I: I guess you have definitely met students from diverse countries. How is it working with them?

EVAN: When you travel, you meet new people and experience new cultures. Well, I can stay in my room. But serving as a tutor, I have met people from new cultures. It is almost as good as traveling. Also, it really teaches me who I am.

I: What do you think is the fastest way to learn English on the basis of your experience?

EVAN: This is kind of theoretical, but I will give you an answer. If you are a student trying to learn English, I suggest you find a boyfriend or a girlfriend who only speaks English. I promise you that you will learn English so fast. And it doesn’t matter how much in your own country you read and listen to English; unless you are interacting, it’s not effective. If you want to learn English, go to an English-speaking country and don’t speak your own language. It will be difficult at first, but it will force your brain to adapt to English. If you are using English, you will learn it quickly. After that, watching U.S. American media would be better than nothing. All language only exists for interaction. Language is interaction. If we did not interact with anybody, there would be no sustainable language.

I: When you have a tutoring session with a student, what kinds of activities do you do?

EVAN: Well, it depends on the level of the student and the student’s ability. I will speak about LIEP students, because we are talking about the LIEP tutoring program. Every activity that we do requires reading, listening and speaking. Writing is a little bit more difficult for me to teach unless the student comes to me with writing already done. For example, if a student comes to me and has already written an essay, I can teach writing very well that way. When we are going to read an article together, I am going to read the article so that the student can hear me read it. We are going to talk about the article so the student has to speak to me and has to listen to my response. So reading, listening and speaking are key activities.

I: What kinds of qualities do you want to see in your tutees?

EVAN: I have some LIEP students, who, Instead of walking around campus and making U.S. American friends, stick to each other and go out to party with each other. Last year, I had some students who only spoke their own language because they hung out only with each other. This is not desirable. If you came here to learn English, you have to use English. Students want to go to parties on the weekends. They can do that. That’s great. Partying is a wonderful way to learn English, but you should use only English at the party.

I: Do you want to leave any words for students whom you have met and will meet?

EVAN: Yes. It is important that my students know that I do this not because it is glamorous and means getting money, but because I love to do it, I am okay with it and I am good at it. I might stop teaching them at the end of the year. Even though they might go back home, I am still going to be their friend and teacher. Just call me or e-mail me, so that I continue to teach them. It is just what I want to do.

It was nice to know a tutor’s attitude and mind toward the LIEP tutoring program. Next, I held interviews with three tutees:
  • Mr. Jérémie Ben Guigui of France is taking the intermediate LIEP course. He is learning English for employment because having command of English will guarantee a nice job in France.
  • Ms. Katya Dashkovskaya of Russia is also taking the intermediate LIEP course. She loves traveling around the world. She thinks that knowing English will make her travel easier since English is a vehicle language in the world.
  • Sister Theresa Le of Vietnam is taking the advanced LIEP course. She considers learning English necessary in adapting to the United States.

I: Is this tutoring program working well for you?

Mr. Jérémie Ben Guigui
of France
JEREMIE: Yes, totally. My tutor has introduced me to his friends. So with them, I can have conversation in English. This conversation helps me understand English easily. Since I have some U.S. American friends I can speak English with, I have learned some idioms and expressions, which I can’t learn in the class. Also, my tutor helps with my homework, and it is really nice. He is always here in Loyola whenever I need him because he is a Loyola student. So, I can readily ask him a favor about studying English.

Ms. Katya Dashkovskaya
of Russia
KATYA: Actually, yes! My tutor introduces me to interesting lessons. We usually listen to U.S. American songs and try to understand the meaning of the words. Also we read articles and books, and discuss them. These lessons are really interesting and fun for me. And I have usually tried to catch every opportunity for speaking with native English speakers. So before the start of the tutoring program, I wanted to speak a lot with a tutor who could fluently speak English. When I have tutoring sessions with my tutor, we have a long conversation and work on how I add words and sentences together. It is really helpful. Also, the tutoring program shows me two sides of English: formal and informal. In the university, professors try to use formal English. If you aren’t born here, you can’t know slang and informal English. By talking with tutors, I can tell the difference between informal and formal English.

Sister Theresa Le
of Vietnam
SISTER THERESA: Sure! Sure! I like to study English with my tutor. I usually ask her to help my writing, because writing in English is very different from writing in Vietnamese in the aspects of logic and word structure. And sometimes, I choose the topic we can focus on, and we talk a lot with each other on this topic. It helps me speak English and correct my pronunciation. Also when I don’t have time to ask my professor a question, I ask my tutor. Through those activities, I have been improving my English. In addition, I have learned how to be open to other people. When I lived in Vietnam, I just made some close friends, enough for me. In the United States, we need to make more friends. My tutor said that I needed to get more friends and be open to everybody. I think it is kind of the U.S. American culture, which I acquired through my tutor.

I: Still you have much time to spend with your tutor. What do you want to do with your tutor from now on?

JEREMIE: Maybe I will try to do special activities such as lager-tagger, and I want to discover good places to enjoy in the French Quarter.

KATYA: Deeper understanding about English and U.S. American culture. So I want to walk around some places with my tutor. It will be great for my tutor to introduce me to something interesting that can be a real example for understanding cultures. I guess it will be really hard for tutors to find some places and walk around. But if a tutor goes out with me once a month, it will be nice. I think it is a really good idea that I can do with my tutor. Surfing the Internet could be a substitute.

SISTER THERESA: What I did with my tutor is enough for me. I ask her something that I don’t understand about English, and she spends time explaining it to me. Tutoring is very helpful to me. I think my tutor is special about English because she is U.S. American. I don’t know many things regarding English, so I will ask my tutor those things.

I: Is there any word for tutors through this interview?

JEREMIE: My tutor is helpful for me. And I really thank him for this tutoring.

KATYA: Sometimes, conversation with my tutor is really hard. I don’t know how to say and explain some ideas. Nevertheless, my tutor is always considerate and thoughtful with me. And there is one thing that I wish my tutor to do. It will be great that my tutor prepares for some interesting topics or shows me something interesting because I am a new person in this country. I want to catch everything new for me and helpful for my family.

SISTER THERESA: I thank you, my tutor. You are very friendly, and I am very thankful for your kindness. I would like to strongly let you know that this tutoring is very good for me who chose to study English

Thanks to these three LIEP students’ cooperation with this interview, I could know about the real benefits that this tutoring program provides for them. I also found that students were quite satisfied with the LIEP tutoring program.

I deem the LIEP tutoring program very worthy for students who are learning English as a second, third, or fourth language. This program picks out adequate tutors who are qualified with a brilliant mind and excellent abilities in English. Also, the activities that LIEP students can do with their tutors are really beneficial for learning English. If there are students who hesitate whether to apply for this tutoring, I would like to encourage them to do it!

* * *

A huge thank-you to Mr. Dong-Joo Lee of Korea for presenting us with this excellent overview of the LIEP tutoring program from the point of view of our LIEP Academic Director, one of our LIEP tutors, and three of our LIEP students. Thank you, Dong-Joo!

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