Strategies for Helping ESL Writers
1. Identifytypes of errors in their writing, rather than marking and/or correcting every error they make. Not only is correcting all of their errors time-consuming on your part, research reveals that it doesn’t have an effect on writers’ subsequent grammatical performance. Instead, let them know that they have a number of subject-verb agreement problems. Point out a couple of them and give a universal place for finding rules for fixing such problems, e.g. a handbook, a website, etc. Consider focusing most on those errors that impede communication of meaning.
2. Offer the possibility for students to revise their papers after receiving your grade and feedback. Research shows that feedback is much more effective if given with the chance to work further on the paper.
3. Encourage students to read their work aloud before turning it in or revising it. ESL students often become proficient in verbal English before written English and they can sometimes hear errors more easily than read them. If you have time, sit with them while they read aloud and point out and explain errors they don’t catch. Doing this enough often leads to them being able to finally catch them on their own.
4. Encourage students to keep an error log in which they note the types of errors instructors point out to them and what they can do to repair them.
And remember that it takes people a long time to acquire enough facility with a second language that they can become relatively proficient in writing in it. Some will never become completely so. Articles and prepositions are among the last features of English second language users will be able to use effectively.