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Writing Center: Chapter 8: Meeting in the Middle: Bridging the Construction of Meaning with Generation 1.5 Learners

A guide to information to help you research and write more effectively.

Summary of Chapter 8

Susan Atkinson
Chapter Summary of ESL Writers by Bruce and Rafoth, Second Edition
Chapter 8: “Meeting in the Middle: Bridging the Construction of Meaning with Generation 1.5 Learners” by Ritter and Sandvik
            This chapter seeks to address the unique needs and strengths of “1.5” learners. 1.5 learners are students who are non-native English speakers but have been immersed in the country long enough to have learned how to effectively understand and communicate in English by being immersed in the culture in school and everyday life. They speak English with ease though maybe with a slight accent. As ear learners of the language (they can hear patterns of speech and grammar) they have the advantage of knowing cultural tendencies in speech that international students do not, but they have not had the intense exposure to literature (“eye learning—learned from grammar and literature books) that traditional students possess. They possess the cultural understanding needed to communicate well, but doing so on paper is a challenge.
Key points:
·        They are still acquiring English intricacies, though they are fluent speakers. They are now developing their writing skills for an advanced academic setting.
·        Exposure to spoken English over written English means more mistakes from mishearing. They write, spell, and punctuate as they speak. They have the added challenge of unlearning language habits even as they are learning new ones.
·        They have taken in oral language from everyone to subconsciously from vocabulary, grammar, and syntax rules through trial and error. They usually cannot verbalize these rules that they are learning intuitively.
·        They often use the informal language of speech in their formal papers. They are not familiar with the more complex structures of language  used in writing that they have not encountered in speaking. This is the GAP in their language skills.
·        Indirect guidance and corrective feedback is the most useful for these students.
·        Use common grammatical terms when trying to suggest corrections.
·        Try to encourage self-correction by reading slowly and pausing, allowing the student to explain what he was trying to do or mean in the passage. This allows them to use their strength in ear learning by hearing their mistakes.
·        Encourage them to draw from their oral competence. Use open ended questions about the correctness of certain features and avoiding overt error correction.
·        Making an outline and keeping notes of the session provides the student with a useful tool to draw from later.
·        Try to make sure they understanding the assignment by asking application based questions and directing their focus on what they are doing in the essay. This also demonstrates to them that they are thinking about the meaning and significance of their topic.
·        Provide a positive reader response of their paper by acknowledging their cultural inheritance and encouraging them to use it as examples and contrasts in their work. This opens the way for mutual learning and discussion.

Summary of Chapter 8

Christopher Peace
Chapter Summary of ESL Writers by Bruce and Rafoth, Second Edition
Chapter 8: “Meeting in the Middle: Bridging the Construction of Meaning with Generation 1.5 Learners” by Ritter and Sandvik
A Day in the Writing Center:
            This session describes the setting of an average writing center. As campuses become more and more diverse, the problem of categorizing each individual in one mold happens to be an issue. The Generation 1.5 learners are usually non-native speakers of English who are excellent in spoken English; however, they have a difficult time with the written language. The University of Alaska Anchorage interviewed tutors and students to learn more about their various processes and styles. Many international students tend to be more familiar with eye learning, while Generational 1.5 writers tend to benefit from ear learning, such as listening to English to hear the patterns.
Generation 1.5 Writers: Learning English and Writing:
            This passage suggests that most grammar errors are caused by hearing errors; e.g. “beans” instead of “beings.” Since Generation 1.5 students are not native speakers, they are still learning the rules of English. The unfamiliar nature of academic writing is an issue for Generation 1.5 students.
Tutorial Suggestions:
            The use of indirect guidance and corrective feedback can assist Generation 1.5 students with their grammatical mistakes. The tutor could pause while reading a student’s writing to indicate  a mistake. Ask questions that facilitate the student’s process in understanding and analyzing their own writing.
Validating Cultural Heritage:
            Acknowledge the students’ cultural heritage. In doing so, tutors bridge the gap between the students’ content knowledge and their ability to write an academic essay.
Simplifying Matters:
            Have sympathy for the student who has moved from his homeland to a whole new world. In the midst of the writing process, they often live suspended between cultures.
Key points:
·        Many international students are “eye learners” while Generation 1.5 students have learned English through oral means (television, friends, etc.).
·        Generation 1.5 students may have the added challenge of unlearning language habits even as they learn new ones.
·        Knowing prepositions are important.
·        Guide the writer in correcting their own mistakes so that they are comfortable with their ideas.
Question to consider:
·        Should there be separate tracks of education for Generation 1.5 students and international students?