A significant portion of MTMC users are ESL students. Coaches are often nervous for their first few ESL appointments, but I would guess that the students might be just as nervous. It is a difficult and self-conscious process to transfer your thinking to a language you may not fully grasp, and even more to do so while a fluent speaker is listening. To help remedy these nerves, here is some advice for coaches working with ESL students.
First, it is important to make sure the student feels comfortable and is able to speak freely without judgment.
Always remember that cultural differences exist! If a student says something that startles you, that is a wonderful learning opportunity for both parties; you can respectfully discuss the cultural differences related to that topic and learn more about the student’s home culture.
Another tip is to make sure to learn the student’s name. Even if you have to ask about pronunciation once or twice after they introduce themselves, being able to address them by name from that point on increases connectivity and benefits the student-coach relationship.
Coaches are often stumped by appointments that only want to practice spoken English. It can be difficult to come up with topics to talk about for 30 or 60 minutes. However, there is a shelf full of ESL Resources binders, shown below, that can help with that exact scenario! Many of these binders contain conversation starters or MTU discussion topics. It is also great to talk about current events at Tech, such as Winter Carnival or broomball. This helps students feel more at home in the community.
Overall, just remember that you are not expected to be an expert. It’s okay if you don’t know the mechanics of every grammar rule, or don’t understand the pronunciation symbols. Just do your best to explain how our language and culture work, and be friendly and welcoming. If you do that, you will have a successful ESL appointment.