Freshmen spend first semester tutoring ELL students as a part of their seminar course

This fall, Professor Carrie Abood turned the tables on her freshman seminar service-learning class – the students became the teachers!
Professor Abood engaged her students in Lipscomb’s ELL Tutoring Program.  The program is designed to help members of the Lipscomb community improve and develop their English language skills.  Students tutor twice a week for one hour, going through an assigned curriculum.
“The purpose of the tutoring assignment is to build a bridge with a ‘sometimes ignored but very important’ portion of the Lipscomb community:  the facilities workers,” says Professor Abood. “Many of these workers are highly-skilled professionals in their home countries, but the language barrier and other restrictions have placed them here at our campus.  Our goal is to encourage this group by making friendships and by building their English-speaking skills.”
Professor Abood’s seminar course is designed to help students make new connections to the Nashville and Lipscomb communities.  Titled, “Building Bridges,” it provides students with insight into current issues of society and challenges them to connect what they read, write, and see with the world in which they live.
“I have at least 6 students who are planning on majoring in education, and they have all mentioned how this experience has opened their eyes to certain aspects of teaching,” remarked Abood. “Additionally, three freshmen plan to continue tutoring next semester, so I find that a success.”
Through the ELL program, students are able to develop relationships with someone from a different cultural background, improve their English language knowledge and teaching skills, receive training related to how to teach English Language Learners and share their knowledge of English and culture with someone who will reap multiple benefits from improved language skills.
In addition to the actual tutoring, students also submitted journal entries, detailing and reflecting on their experience with their partner.  See some of the students’ reflections below:
“My initial feelings concerning this tutoring project were ones of apprehension and not knowing what to expect.  I have never taught someone who did not speak English fluently and this was a completely new experience for me.  Nevertheless, I was eager to see how it went.  Engaging in this experience would provide me with a sense of what I would be doing if I were an actual English teacher with second-language learners.”
“In the beginning, things were a little awkward and both of us were shy; however, as time went on we began to talk and connect much more.  One day, I even mentioned I needed to go to the nurse to get my allergy shot and she drove me across campus on one of the golf carts.  It was a small gesture, but it was something really thoughtful.”
“When I came to Lipscomb I did not know about this service opportunity.  When I heard that we were going to complete this project for class I got very excited because I love helping people especially the people in my community/ neighborhood.  In the first few tutoring sessions I felt very overwhelmed and did not feel like I was doing a good job.  After talking with some of my classmates, writing the first journal, and talking with the person I am tutoring, I realized that if I am helping her learn it does not matter how badly I think I am doing. All that matters is that she is learning and that I am do the best that I can.”
“I have learned from this experience that if you do not speak the language of the country in which you live it can be very difficult to navigate and to find out information about the city/country that you are in. I also realized that many people look badly upon people who do not speak or do not know the language very well.”
“This experience has helped me learn about myself because I want to become a teacher and this helped me to learn what I will probably face in public education.  I learned that I have strengths and weaknesses when helping others.  While I did not enjoy every tutoring session because I was focused on myself and what I needed to do, overall I really recommend this experience for every Lipscomb student. It is an eye opening experience as to what happens in our community.”
About SALT
The SALT Program is a comprehensive plan to integrate service-learning into the educational experience of traditional undergraduate students at Lipscomb University. A strategy for developmentally enhancing student learning, the SALT Program allows students to connect their academic experience and spiritual development with significant engagement in the community.