Being bilingual has always allowed me to understand how non-native speakers may feel when being introduced to the English language. I was born in Bucharest, Romania, but moved here with my family when I was only 9 months old. This gave me quite a different experience than most people. I grew up learning to speak English and Romanian simultaneously. However, I learned to write and read in English before I learned in the Romanian language. Due to that, when it did come time for me to learn how to read and write in Romanian it posed a challege. I constantly ran into road blocks because of how sentences are formed. For example, in English you would say “the black house”, but in most romantic languages it would be phrased “the house black”. Also, sometimes I would run into the problem of saying something in Romanian and when translating it to English, it kind of lost its meaning. This was a common occurence when trying to translate jokes. They just ended up not being funny. Eventhough I was only about 9 years old, I could remember myself being frustrated as to how the two languages could be saying the same things, but not really having the exact same meaning.
I observed others have the same frustration in highschool when I began taking Spanish. Some students would just give up because they could not understand why words had so many different endings, and why they had to be in a different order than in English. It would overwhelm them to the point that they just decided to not deal with it. For me, it didnt pose too much of a problem this time because of my knowledge of the Romanian language. In fact, I used my experience to stay after school on some days and help others better learn the language. We would practice different exercises and come up with mnemonic devices to get them to learn the word endings.
These experiences will definitely help me in a tutoring session with non-native speakers. I will truly be able to understand their frustrations and will be able to share some strategies that I have found to be helpful. I can build a connection that some tutors who are not bilingual may not be able to establish. This could lead to the student feeling more relaxed during the session, whichin turn makes it more productive. When the session is productive, the student is more likely to be able to take the information learned and apply it to other pieces of writing, which is one of a tutor’s main goals!