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16.2: Advice specifically designed for non-native English speakers

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    227949
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    WHO ARE NON-NATIVE SPEAKERS?

    Used in the context of living in the United States, the term non-native speakers means students who are not native speakers of English, meaning that English is not their first language. Other common terms used are ESL (English as a Second Language) and ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages).

    WHY HAVE A SEPARATE CHAPTER FOR NON-NATIVE SPEAKERS?

    Non-native speakers in mainstream college classes face the extra challenge of reading, speaking, and writing in a language they have not studied their whole lives. The ESOL Instructors at Skyline College have designed this chapter to help provide added assistance to those students in mainstream English classes to support their learning and success.

    HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY SUCCESS?

    If you are enrolled in a mainstream English class (a class that is not ESOL specific so contains a mixture of native and non-native English speakers), then most likely there will be no class time dedicated to ESOL specific needs and issues. To ensure your success in the class and in improving your English skills, you will want to take advantage of your resources. The Learning Center in building 5 has a staff of dedicated English tutors (faculty, grad students and peer tutors) and ESOL trained tutors as well. You can enroll in a credit/no-credit lab course and earn college credit while getting assistance from tutors and taking advantage of the other resources in The Learning Center. Additionally, you can use the materials in this chapter as well as the Grammar and Style chapters in this Rhetoric to strengthen your skills.

    English Survey

    To begin, you can complete this survey and then take it with you when you first meet with your English teacher so you can go over your history, your goals for the class, and your particular needs as a student. This will allow your English teacher to get to know you better, and you can make a plan together to help you be successful in the class.

    1. What is your native language? Can you speak, read and write fluently in this language?
      What other languages do you know? Can you speak, read, and write in each?



    2. How long have you lived in the United States? When did you begin studying English? How many English classes have you taken? What grade level? What grades did you get in those classes?



    3. What areas in grammar do you find most challenging? What have past teachers commented on about your writing?



    4. What other skill areas do you want to strengthen? Reading comprehension? Organizing your ideas? Developing your ideas? Doing research? Listening? Class discussion?



    5. Circle the answers to the following questions about your editing/proofreading habits:

    I edit and proofread the final draft of writing assignments.

    Always Often Rarely Never

    Somebody else helps me with editing and proofreading my papers.

    Always Often Rarely Never

    I edit and proofread by listening to how my writing “sounds.”
    Always Often Rarely Never

    I analyze my sentence structure by circling subjects and underlining verbs.
    Always Often Rarely Never

    1. What else would you like me to know about you as a student in my English class?

    Practice: Parts of Speech Self-Review

    Be sure you understand the foundational elements of English. For any of the following you are not sure of or cannot define, use this as a guide for which topics you should review in the Chapter 14: Grammar.

    Noun

    Definition: _____________________________________________________________

    Examples: _____________________________________________________________

    Verb

    Definition: _____________________________________________________________

    Examples: _____________________________________________________________

    Adjective

    Definition: _____________________________________________________________

    Examples: _____________________________________________________________

    Adverb

    Definition: _____________________________________________________________

    Examples: _____________________________________________________________

    Pronoun

    Definition: _____________________________________________________________

    Examples: _____________________________________________________________

    Preposition

    Definition: _____________________________________________________________

    Examples: _____________________________________________________________

    Conjunction (also known as coordinator)

    Definition: _____________________________________________________________

    Examples: _____________________________________________________________

    Answer

    Noun:

    Definition: a word (other than a pronoun) used to identify any of a class of people, places, or things common noun, or to name a particular one of these proper noun.

    Examples: chair, dog, essay, left-handed people

    Verb:

    Definition: a word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence, and forming the main part of the predicate of a sentence, such as hear, become, happen.

    Examples: run, was singing, will be calling, sank

    Adjective:

    Definition: a word or phrase naming an attribute, added to or grammatically related to a noun to modify or describe it.

    Examples: red, scary, enormous, challenging

    Adverb:

    Definition: a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc. (e.g., gently, then, there ).

    Examples: slowly, well, quietly, rapidly

    Pronoun:

    Definition: a word that can function by itself as a noun phrase and that refers either to the participants in the discourse (e.g., I, you ) or to someone or something mentioned elsewhere in the discourse (e.g., she, it, this).

    Examples: he, they, we

    Preposition:

    Definition: a word governing, and usually preceding, a noun or pronoun and expressing a relation to another word or element in the clause, as in “the man on the platform” and “she arrived after dinner.”

    Examples: around, on, under, above

    Conjunction (also known as coordinator)

    Definition: a word used to connect clauses or sentences or to coordinate words in the same clause.

    Examples: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So (FANBOYS)

    Top Eight Tips to Improve Your Reading

    1. Read as much as possible: the more you read, the more you build up your vocabulary and sentence structure. Choose books that interest you and are more fun than watching television.
    2. Develop a system for vocabulary. Keep a list of vocabulary words with their definitions to review again and again.
    3. Make friends with a high-quality dictionary. Develop a system for finding key words and use the dictionary to find definitions for key words.
    4. Make enemies with your dictionary. Don’t overuse your dictionary or interrupt your reading by looking up every word. Studies show that breaks in reading mean a gap in your understanding.
    5. Be familiar with academic word lists. Find a vocabulary review book and use it to build your vocabulary. The more vocabulary you know, the better you will understand what you read.
    6. Annotate your academic reading. Underline important points and makenotes in the margin. Turn the text into a conversation! If you want to sell your book back, use post-it notes for your comments.
    7. Read the newspaper. It gives you something to talk about and will increase your vocabulary.
    8. Read to your children! Don’t have any? Find some children and read to them!

    What Researchers Say about Vocabulary and Reading

    To understand spoken English, you need: 1,900 frequent core words
    To understand written English, you need: 2,700 frequent core words
    For 90% comprehension* of newspapers and pop fiction, you need: 6,000 core words
    For 95% comprehension** of newspapers and pop fiction, you need: 10,000 words
    For 97% comprehension of newspapers and pop fiction, you need: 16,000 words!

    What does this research mean? It means that for advanced levels of ESOL, you need to nail down the 2,700 frequent core words and be well into learning the 6,000 core words!

    * 90% comprehension is not good enough! That means you will not understand 1/10 words. You need stronger vocabulary than that if you want to understand a newspaper or pop fiction (such as a mystery novel).

    **95% is enough to guess the meaning of the words you don’t know.

    Tips for Addressing Length in Academic Writing

    Academic writing should be developed into powerful sentences that convey an idea completely. One common problem among second-language speakers is when students don’t observe punctuation rules; the sentences end up too long because they are not well punctuated, and the instructor tells the student, “Make your sentences shorter and simpler.” However, another problem is created here because short and simple sentences are not as powerful as longer, more descriptive sentences. So what can you do?

    • What is the idea that you want to convey? It may be several ideas that are connected. Separate them out first. Example:
      • Source: “The Black Table is Still There” by Lawrence Otis Graham
      • Graham is surprised to see that racial self-separation still exists at his old high school.
      • Graham doesn’t know whether he should feel proud or sad about it.
      • Final sentence:
        • In The Black Table is Still There, Lawrence Otis Graham is surprised to see that racial self-separation still exists at his old high school, but he isn’t sure whether he should feel proud or sad about it.
    • State your ideas in simple clear sentences first. Use powerful verbs, nouns, and strong, descriptive adjectives.
    • After your sentences convey those ideas, then consider joining them together using sentence joining strategies and tools such as FANBOYS (coordination) or subordination.

    Practice: Practice for Addressing Length in Academic Writing

    Using a source from your current course of study, select an idea that you wish to convey. Break it into several ideas and state them in their own clear sentences first. Use powerful verbs, nouns, and strong, descriptive adjectives. Finally, join the ideas into one powerful idea. Refer to rules you know that address sentence joining (such as FANBOYS and subordination).

    Source: __________________________________________________________________________

    Idea 1: __________________________________________________________________________

    Idea 2: __________________________________________________________________________

    Idea (3): _________________________________________________________________________

    Final sentence: ___________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________________________

    Turning Spoken English into Written

    Spoken English and written English differ in many important ways. One way they differ is in how questions are interpreted in past time. For example, look at this conversation between a teacher and a student:

    Student: Did you receive my email?

    Teacher: When did you send it?

    Student: Yesterday.

    Teacher: I’m sorry, I didn’t see it. What was your question?

    Student: I want to know if the research paper is due next week.

    Teacher: Yes, it is.

    Now, look at the description of the same conversation, but written instead of spoken.

    I saw my teacher and asked her if she had received my email, which I had sent the day before. She hadn’t seen it, so she asked what my question was. I asked her whether the research paper was due next week, and she said it was.

    There are three important differences between spoken English and written English:

    1. Length. Written English often takes more words to convey the same idea that can be conveyed in spoken English. The conversation above took 36 words, but the written version took 47 words.
    2. Reported speech. In the written version that describes the spoken conversation, the verbs shift from present to past, and from past to past perfect. This is because the speaker is reporting something that already happened.
    3. Using if/whether to turn a question into a statement. In reported speech, the question cannot remain a question. It must be turned into a statement.

    Incorrect: I asked her did she receive my email.
    Correct: I asked her if she received my email.

    Incorrect: I asked her is the research paper due next week.

    Correct: I asked her whether the research paper was due next week.

    Tips for Reported Speech

    When should I use it?

    Reported speech should only be used when reporting an action in past time. It is often used in the reporting fields of journalism and news casting, but may be appropriate for some forms of academic writing where reporting of a source is needed.

    Example:

    Event: A fire in a building, set by arsonists

    Police statement: We believe the fire was set by juveniles. The juveniles were seen by neighbors earlier in the day.

    Journalist: “The police said that the fire had been set by juveniles who had been seen loitering around the building earlier in that day.”

    Reported speech is NOT used when discussing the words of an author of fiction or non-fiction (the present tense is used).

    When Mark Twain states “The funniest things are the forbidden,” he reminds us how we revel in pushing the boundaries of society’s rules. Perhaps he also suggests that he himself has been taken to task by those rules, and he seeks safety in like-minded individuals who appreciate risk.

    Reported speech is also NOT used when reporting research that has been published and is used for determining other research (present tense is used).

    According to DeFrancis (1989), the Chinese writing system is a syllabic system of writing.

    Take the verb from the original tense and move it backwards in time.

    Future and Present Past Past and Present Past Perfect and Past
    Senator Hill: “Taxes won’t go up next year, but I can see that changing the year after.” Senator Hill said that taxes wouldn’t go up next year, but that he could see that changing the year after. President: “The International Treaty was broken in the aftermath of the civil war. My administration supports restoring the tenets of the treaty.” The president stated that the international treaty had been broken in the aftermath of the civil war and that the government supported the restoration of the treaty’s tenets.

    Practice: Reported Speech

    Imagine that all of the following statements are source material for your paper. Decide whether these statements should be moved into reported speech. If they should be moved into reported speech, do so. If not, write “not reported speech” in the blank.

    1. College President, Memo to College Governance Council: We are ready and willing to support the veterans who have served our country by providing them with excellent opportunities for success.

      ___________________________________________________________________________
    2. Author, Paolo Freire, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”: Self-depreciation is another characteristic of the oppressed, which derives from their internalization of the opinion the oppressors hold of them.

      ___________________________________________________________________________
    3. Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius: I believe strongly in the need for accountability, and in the importance of being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

      ___________________________________________________________________________
    4. Linguists Edelsky and Goodman: It is more common in modern education to combine the writing process with whole language to form a holistic process and philosophy of literacy learning.

      ___________________________________________________________________________

    Now, find two sources for a paper that you are writing. Choose one that will be appropriate for converting into reported speech, and one that will remain in present tense. Remember to cite your source.

    1.






    2.

    Answer
    1. College President, Memo to College Governance Council: We are ready and willing to support the veterans who have served our country by providing them with excellent opportunities for success.

    The College President wrote to the College Governance Council that they were ready and willing to support the veterans who have served our country by providing them with excellent opportunities for success.

    1. Author, Paolo Freire, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”: Self-depreciation is another characteristic of the oppressed, which derives from their internalization of the opinion the oppressors hold of them.

    Not reported speech

    1. Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius: I believe strongly in the need for accountability, and in the importance of being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

    Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary for Health and Human Services stated that she believes strongly in the need for accountability, and in the importance of being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

    1. Linguists Edelsky and Goodman: It is more common in modern education to combine the writing process with whole language to form a holistic process and philosophy of literacy learning.

    Not reported speech

    Using If and Whether to Turn Yes/No Questions into Statements

    When using reported speech, Yes/No questions cannot remain in question format. It is necessary to re-word the question to put it into statement format. Remember the earlier example:

    Incorrect: I asked her did she receive my email.
    Correct: I asked her if she received my email.

    Incorrect: I asked her is the research paper due next week.
    Correct: I asked her whether the research paper was due next week.

    Notice the many ways that a question can be worded.

    Customer question: Can you help me?

    Can you help

    Me?

       

    1. Begin with independent clause.

    2. Add if/whether.

    The customer wants to know if

    you

    can

    help her.

    3. Change the noun clause to SV order if necessary.

    4. Delete do, does, and did if necessary.

      S V dependent word S V  

    1

    2

    The customer wants to know

    The customer would like to know

    if

    whether

    you can help her.

    you can help her.

     

    3

    4

    The customer is curious to know

    The customer is asking

    if

    whether

    you can help her

    you can help her

    or not.

    or not.

    5

    The customer is inquiring

    whether or not

    you can help her.

     

    Practice: Convert questions to statements

    Convert these questions into statements. Note the many ways to state a Yes/No question.

    Example: Scholarship committee question: Will giving laptops to students improve student success?

    Statement: The scholarship committee is curious to know whether giving laptops to students will improve student success.

    1. Community question: Will the cost associated with the earthquake cause local taxes to go up?

    Statement: _________________________________________________________________________

    1. Researcher question: Is the low number of enrollees in the new program connected to the scandal involving the program’s director?

    Statement: __________________________________________________________________________

    Answer
    1. Community question: Will the cost associated with the earthquake cause local taxes to go up?

    Statement: The community would like to know if the cost associated with the earthquake will cause local taxes to go up.

    1. Researcher question: Is the low number of enrollees in the new program connected to the scandal involving the program’s director?

    Statement: The researcher is inquiring whether the low number of enrollees in the new program is connected to the scandal involving the program’s director.

    Conveying an Author's Point of View

    Part of academic writing is accurately conveying the viewpoint of writers. You want to clearly state their points of view and arguments before you add your own evaluation and analysis. In other words, you want to fairly and accurately present the ideas in the material you are offering a critique of. Here is an example of conveying an author’s point of view:

    In his essay, “We Should Cherish Our Children’s Freedom to Think,” author Kie Ho states that the U.S. is the “country of innovation” because of its emphasis on free thinking. He argues that countries who value conformity over freedom of thought are at a disadvantage in the global marketplace.

    What verb tense is used when presenting an author’s ideas?

    1. present
    2. past
    3. future

    If you answered a, you are correct! We use the present tense to present an author’s ideas. This is because the author’s words are always present. Do not use past tense for conveying the author’s point of view except in very special circumstances describing events that happen in a sequence.

    What verbs are used in the example above to report what the author says?

    1. states
    2. thinking
    3. argues
    4. value

    If you answered a and c, you are correct! In fact, there are lots of words that can be used in place of the word “says.” Look below for some excellent verbs used for reporting.

    Words to show what the author says strongly

    advocates
    argues
    asserts
    believes
    brings to light
    claims
    declares
    discusses
    emphasizes
    maintains
    points out
    establishes
    explains
    expresses
    feels
    focuses on
    illustrates
    insists
    proclaims
    proposes
    questions
    remarks
    says
    states
    stresses
    thinks

    Example: Walter Mosley asserts that Wal-Mart's size can destroy competitive power in smaller businesses.

    Words to show what the author suggests (doesn't state directly)

    advises
    alludes to
    cautions
    conveys
    gives credence to
    implies
    indicates
    insinuates
    recommends
    shows
    suggests

    Example: By tying the U.S.'s strengths in the global marketplace to its emphasis on free thinking, Kie Ho implies that his own country of Indonesia does a disservice to its economic future by valuing conformity.

    Words to show what the author says unwillingly or unhappily

    acknowledges admits allows concedes confesses

    Example: While Mike Rose acknowledges that our educational system is ridiculously obsessed with evaluation and assessment, he confesses that he enjoyed getting good grades from his own English teacher.

    Agreeing and Disagreeing with an Author’s Point of View

    In many cultures, it is considered rude or unwise to disagree with a published author. However, in the United States, it is considered perfectly appropriate for a student writer to agree or disagree with a professional author. In fact, it shows the student writer’s ability to think critically and be a participant in intellectual dialogue. Your professor wants to see that you can think independently and can critique another writer’s ideas. When you are able to critique an author, you show yourself to be a strong thinker and writer.

    There are many words and phrases that you can use to agree or disagree with an author, as you will see below.

    Examples of Showing Agreement with an Author

    Brady proclaims that she wants a wife to support her and take care of all the child-rearing and homemaking duties so that she can be free to pursue a life without entanglements. It is easy to agree with her irony and obvious anger at having little choice in strict gender roles.

    McCuistion may be correct in that kids have to “fit themselves into categories imposed by society” (283); after all, if society imposes these rules, what choice do young people have but to follow them?

    Perrin’s argument is convincing because no one can doubt his maleness after his explanation of his job (a horse wrangler), yet the reader sees how little freedom society allows him to be who he is.

    Examples of Showing Partial, or Full, Disagreement with an Author

    While Brady’s anger is understandable, her hyperbole is not completely convincing; she assumes that the whole purpose of marriage is to deliberately take advantage of the wife, and that the wife is, by definition, a servant. This is an antiquated view (the piece was written in the seventies) and therefore may not be representative of most marriages. I hesitate to endorse her view of “wife=slave” because I feel she isn’t fair to men who truly uphold their half of marriage responsibilities. The argument is not effective because it focuses on one angle.

    What McCuistion calls “a competitive sense that reverberates throughout adult life” (283)
    I would call building human connections. McCuistion fails to consider that competition is part of the way that humans, not just male humans, interact all over the world. Competition teaches us social dynamics, not just “controlled violence” (283) as McCuistion insists.

    Notice that the language that is used is very polite and respectful, even if the student writer disagrees with the published author. Use the following words to agree and/or disagree with authors.

    To agree with the author:

    I/the reader… The author… The argument…

    agree (with +person/idea)
    be convinced (by/that)
    endorse (+ author’s point)
    support (+ author’s point)

    is convincing
    is correct
    adequately considers
    completely considers
    “ “ convinces
    “ “ supports

    is well-supported
    is easy to agree with
    is effective/ clear
    is supported by (evidence)
    considers (evidence)

    Example: Langston Hughes’ description of a boy who loses his religion is compelling, and the reader is convinced by his implied argument that religion should not be forced on the unwilling.

    To disagree with the author

    I/the reader… The author… The argument…
    do not/cannot agree
    disagree
    am/is not convinced
    cannot endorse
    hesitate to endorse/support
    do not/cannot support
    is not convincing
    is not correct
    does not/fails to consider
    does not/fails to convince
    does not/fails to support
    assumes/wrongly assumes
    calls … which is actually …
    is poorly supported
    is difficult to agree with
    is not effective / clear
    may not be accurate
    lacks support
    focuses on [the wrong angle]

    Example: While E.D. Hirsch argues that American Culture is core knowledge that should be explicitly taught in schools, he fails to consider that what he calls American Culture is actually rooted in the dominant white experience and does not include the contributions of African American, Asian, and Hispanic cultures. In this way, his argument is poorly supported.

    Practice

    1. Locate a quotation by an author that you are reading for your class. Choose a quotation that clearly states the author’s point of view. Write that quote here:
    1. Choose reporting verbs that will adequately and creatively report what the author is saying. Write those verbs here:

    1. State your opinion of the author in the form of a critique. Use language for critiquing authors. Write that here.

    1. Now, put it all together. Present the author’s point of view using reporting verbs. Follow this with your statement of critique.

    Proofreading Tips for ESOL Students

    Proofreading is the process of error detection and error correction in your own work. Put in other words, it is the identification and correction of your own mistakes. It should be an integral part of your writing process.

    Guidelines for Effective Proofreading

    1. Leave enough time to proofread. Take a break from the paper for a while or leave it for the next day.
    2. Proofread only one line of text at a time. Cover other parts that may prevent you from concentrating on the errors in that one line. Use a ruler or other straightedge for this purpose.
    3. Many writers find it helpful to read the text out loud and listen for errors. You may find yourself filling in missing words or stumbling verbally over a duplicated word or incorrect verb tense in the text.
    4. Focus on only one type of error at a time. Proofread throughout the essay, line by line for that one type of error. Take a short break between searches for each type of error on your checklist. Mark the errors you find with a pen other than black so the errors stand out. Make note of the correction, and put a line through the error, so you are left with only the correction to be made to your document.
    5. Sentence structure—underline all verbs, circle all subjects, and put brackets around [clauses]. Does every sentence have an appropriate subject and complete verb? Does each sentence express a complete thought? Are all dependent clauses connected to independent clauses? Are there any fragments? Run-together sentences? Is your punctuation correct?
    6. Verb tense and modals—use a wiggly line to mark all time expressions to help you determine the correct verb tense. When does the action take place? Have you used the correct tense? Are the verbs formed correctly? Remember, the tense may change even in the same sentence. Check every verb!
    7. Subject-Verb agreement—check whether all third-person subjects are singular (he, she, it) or plural (they) and then check to see that the verb “agrees” with the subject.
    8. Nouns and articles—put a box around each noun. Check whether each noun is: (a) proper or common. (b) specific/non-specific, (c) count/non-count, (d) singular/plural (If the noun is a plural count noun, check that it has the correct plural ending). Check that each noun has the appropriate article (a, an, the) or quantity word (some).

    Proofreading Checklist

    Directions: Go through this checklist, one item at a time. When you have checked for this item throughout the essay, mark what is true for your paper.

    Items to check in this essay: Yes Not Yet
    1. There is an original title centered at the top of the first page.

    1. The title of the reading I am responding to, and the name of the author appear in the introductory paragraph.

    1. The thesis statement can be found in the introduction

    1. Each body paragraph has a topic sentence.

    1. The paper has been double spaced throughout.

    1. The first line of each new paragraph has been indented 5 spaces.

    1. Standard English word order of S-V-O has been used throughout this paper except where I may have used passive tense.
    1. All sentences begin with a capital letter.

    1. All subjects and verbs agree. ( He goes… not He go…)

    1. The correct verb tense has been used in each sentence reflecting the appropriate use for present, past, or future meaning, as well as for actions or states started in the past, continuing into the present.
    1. All word forms are in the correct parts of speech.

    1. All singular count nouns have an article or a possessive adjective in front of them.
    1. There are periods at the end of each sentence.

    1. I have put my best effort into this paper.

    1. I have proofread this paper line by line.

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    This page titled 16.2: Advice specifically designed for non-native English speakers is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Skyline English Department.

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