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To Write or Not To Write?

Updated: Apr 2

At the March 15, 2023 Tutor Talks, one of our tutors brought up the subject of working on writing with our English B'Yachad students. Her student was reluctant to tackle writing and yet, as a professional, the Tutor understood the connection between writing in English and increasing English proficiency.

As a non-native Hebrew speaker that does pretty well in Hebrew, I often felt that my writing was a weak spot in my language skills - making me look more childish and less sophisticated that I hope I actually am!! But I understand that writing in English, especially when overall confidence in English skills still feels challenging, may sometimes just feel like "too much to tackle" for our students. And yet...... writing in English will likely also be needed on the job.

With this question raised, the 34 tutors able to participate in this month's Tutor Talks, lit up and the suggestions and ideas flowed...

Today's blog captures many of the terrific ideas suggested and as we are always in conversation together, I welcome other ideas or feedback on what may be working with your student on the subject of writing.

  • Ruthy Scher suggested sending short messages on WhatsApp or email that prompt a written response from the student. Using those communication tools starts a student writing without making "writing" a formal topic for the learning sessions

  • Michele Doctoroff suggested making the student a co-host on the zoom and very casually asking the student to write one sentence on the whiteboard. To take away any pressure, Michele kindly suggests that she needs to go away for a few minutes to "take care of something," so that the student does not feel watched or pressured when trying to compose his/her sentence. Make this a no pressure exercise and if it's working, can gradually work up to a second sentence or a third, etc. Michele provides a simple prompt question - very easy, and non-threatening!

  • Eada Rubinger suggested that an interesting way to work on writing would be to turn a positive question into a negative or turn a statement into a question.

  • Myra Epstein shared that she sends her student a shabbat shalom WhatsApp message every Friday, with a simple graphic or greeting and that simple exchange creates some opportunity to write back.

  • Several tutors described the emails they have seen or received as starting with a very informal greeting, such as "Hey .......(name)" Apparently this is not uncommon and part of that informal Israeli way of communicating. However, such a greeting may not be appropriate in a business setting when communicating with individuals from other cultures or in positions of leadership... So if you receive or see a "Hey" email, you have the opportunity to talk with your student about knowing and understanding the recipient of their communication and thinking about how to know the audience and structure communication styles accordingly!

  • Jo Reizner worked with her student on emails and put together the attached file as as a guide for discussing email writing etiquette.

Email etiquette 23 April 2022
Download PDF • 25KB

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