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The Culturally Relevant Question
Transcript of The Culturally Relevant Question
A Crucial Quote...
Frameworks from Thonus: Focus & Questions
Questions Which Discriminate or Distract
From Key Principles
What cultural assumptions are we bringing
to the table when meeting with a ELL/CLD student which might inhibit their educational
"Negotiation of meaning through peer, instructor, and tutor comments interspersed with multiple revisions and interaction between first language and English places the responsibility for communication on writers and helps them draw in all of their internal and external resources in the writing process" (Thonus 20).
In order to truly get to the heart of what an ELL/CLD writer wants to convey, we have an ethical and academic responsibility to ask beyond ONLY questions on basic grammar or "American" forms of rhetoric.
Though it is helpful to understand commonalities in someone's culture, be wary, in turn, of stereotyping an ELL/CLD writer. Avoid
making assumptions about ELL/CLD writers
which might threaten their own individual
capacity for writing development.
Avoid cultural voyeurism.
When it comes to the writing process, we as
educators and tutors should consider
dialect as integral to the writing voice of our
students and even invite questions regarding translation when working one-on-one with
In fact, Terese Thonus does indeed ask: "How would you [the ELL/CLD student] write that idea in your native language?" (20).
"The Culturally Relevant Question":
Important Queries When Tutoring ELL/CLD Students
The "negotiation of meaning" for an ELL/CLD student and his or her tutor/teacher should involve some crucial questions which relate back to how a writer views form, himself or herself as a writer as well as his or her audience.
What are practical and helpful tools we can
give our ELL/CLD students that honors
their own individuality as well as shows
awareness of their individual
So, how can tutors & teachers create supportive environments that foster a student's personal voice, style, and dialect?
And what is the relationship between reflecting on practice and preparing relevant questions for the
We question because of our innate
curiosity about our students' welfare and educational growth.
We question because it enhances
communication through collaboration.
We question in order to provide a level of agency for the student.
We question in order to be
mindful of a global sense
"What changes will have to be made in the philosophy of the writing center and in the job descriptions of the tutors [to meet the diverse needs of ELL/CLD students]?" (Thonus 13).
Foundational Frameworks for Working with Writers
Tish's Tips for Preparing
We (though my colleagues are not here today) now encourage you to take some
time to reflect with some freewriting
and outlining in order to prepare some
questions which might be beneficial for
your own students.
A Question to Inspire Us
We also encourage you all to think about
on linguistic possibilities as provided by
NCTE Beliefs about the Teaching of Writing
Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing
Students' Rights to Their Own Language (SRTOL)
NCTE ELL Policy Research Brief
Thonus, Terese. "Tutors as Teachers: Assisting ESL/EFL Students in the Writing Center." The Writing Center Journal 13.2 (1993): 13-26. Print.
... A Focal Point for Working
with ELL/CLD Writers.
A Consciousness-Raising Device (Thonus)
As a fairly new tutor, Tish focused on the need for critical thinking practices, journaling before and after meeting with ELL/CLD students, and the use of one's own personal experiences with culture.
"Numerous reports on writing center tutees show that many of them, esepcially NNSs, expect and want their tutors to act as authorities" (Thonus "What are the differences?").
A method of asking tutee what each paragraph was about before reading, having him talk out his ideas while outlining further, and then keeping a list of notes while reading "revealed" his own writing in a non-directive approach, in order to improve cohesion and meaning.