By Joanna Enos
When I joined the American Language Institute at USC as a One-On-One Conversation Partner, I didn’t consider the ways in which being an English tutor would improve my own language skills. Ever since I can remember, I have been very interested in the English language and foreign languages. As a political science major, I am also interested in foreign governments and societies and enjoy talking to people from other countries to learn more about the country they’re from and how it differs from the U.S. in terms of politics, government, culture, and many other things. My interest in foreign nations and comparing life in the United States to life in other nations is what sparked my interest in being a conversation partner in the first place, so in the first few weeks of being a tutor I thought the main thing I would get out of the tutoring sessions was new knowledge about countries I have not visited and have not studied extensively in my political science courses.
However, I have recently realized that the tutoring sessions are as beneficial for me as they are for the international students I meet with. This might sound odd since I am a native English speaker and have taken numerous English language, grammar, and literature classes over the course of my academic career. Nevertheless, speaking in English with international students whose native language is different than mine has forced me to think more critically of the English language and how I use that language in everyday conversations.
Continue reading Improving English Skills
By Autumn Palen
A few days ago, standing across the kitchen island from my roommate, we discussed what our TED Talks would be, were we given the chance to have one. I talked about potentially studying the correlation between old parents and nerdy kids. Hers was much better. She had one in mind right off the bat, apparently having already pondered over it for quite a while.
My roommate works as a volunteer teacher throughout the week, helping 2nd and 3rd graders learn the fundamentals of science and math. Her TED Talk, as she had intricately sketched out in her mind, would focus on the inadequacies of the educational system. She had particularly noticed that many teachers of scientific subjects — Chemistry, Physics, Biology — teach facts, figures, and solutions, but not how to arrive at these conclusions. This method of teaching is all fine and good for passing quizzes and tests, but is detrimental to the future individual development of knowledge in these fields. Students know what the answers are because they’ve memorized them, but many may be incapable of finding the answer on their own, or knowing why the answer is found in a particular way.
Continue reading Teaching Men To Fish (Metaphorically): Pondering the Educational System
By Megan Wong
Heavy torrential rain poured down on us as the children ran around their school playground, which consisted of three mangled tires placed sparingly across the uneven field. As they skidded down what had become a mud slide, they hauled us along, all the while screaming with glee. All of a sudden, a tiny girl came leaping towards me, enveloping me in a hug; Sam and I had become fast friends on our first day at the school. Gesturing for me to follow, she grabbed my hand, laughing as we ran into the gathering room to dry off. Around me, I saw my classmates engaged in the same process, playing with the children they had formed connections with, while cleaning themselves up. Laughter and friendship were in the muggy air. I had never laughed, or smiled as much in a place than I had during that trip, especially fitting seeing as we were in the ‘land of smiles’. Looking around, I was in disbelief that we were already halfway through our trip.
Continue reading What a little girl in Cambodia showed me about the harsh reality of volunteer trips