Vanessa Hope talks about ESL classes for students at Parsons Paris
Vanessa Hope is one of two faculty members who offer individual “ESL” sessions to students on an appointment basis throughout the year. Below, she answers questions about “English as a Second Language” support at Parsons Paris.
What are the different categories of assistance that you offer to students in your ESL classes?
The ESL service is available to all students, whether they are non-native speakers or not. I assist students with grammar, structure and editing. Although native speakers often do not require grammar support, it is always useful to have “fresh eyes” proofread a paper to identify missed errors or make suggestions on how to improve it.
When a student works with you on a written assignment, what type of input do you give?
The type of assistance I provide depends on where the student is in the writing process. Sometimes a session consists of just brainstorming a topic until ideas are streamlined into a framework for a paper. However, most often, I help students with outlines, content, clarity, and citation formatting. Some overwhelmed freshman students also come for moral support and find it reassuring to know that there is a place where they can go for academic assistance.
What is the collaboration when prepping for an oral presentation?
During an oral presentation session, I help students with vocabulary, content and clarity. We also work on delivery and oral skills, such as pronunciation, stress and fluidity.
Do you work with groups of students on projects they will present together?
Group projects are quite helpful in teaching students how to work collaboratively. If the levels of English are different, I first schedule individual appointments, and then meet with the entire group to ensure project cohesion. We also have practice presentations if needed.
Do you assist students with their CVs, cover letters and interviews for jobs and internships?
Yes, I do assist students with content for their CVs and cover letters, ensuring that sentences are properly structured and grammatically correct, and that they provide clear information regarding background and experience. I have not, to date, prepped students for interviews. However, it is certainly something that I am prepared to do.
How many students on average do you work with in any given semester? Are students able to work with you more than once?
I work with approximately 20 students per semester. They are reluctant to use the service in the beginning. However, once they have seen the benefits of this type of support, they often sign up for additional sessions. Appointments are limited to one-hour sessions with no restrictions on the number of appointments a student can make. It is gratifying to see students gain confidence in themselves and their ability to convey their thoughts in a written, structured format.
Where on campus do you meet with the students for their appointments?
Due to the current health crisis, sessions are held via Zoom. I have found that the sessions last longer and students make multiple appointments. I think that in this time of uncertainty, they need more reassurance. During the school year, we meet in an area of the Office of Student Success on specific days and times.
How do the students know to reach out to you and your colleague, Peter Behrman de Sinety, who also teaches ESL?
To promote the service and get more students to sign up for ESL and Writing support, Peter Behrman de Sinety and I present the service to freshman students during orientation. We also e-mail students to remind them that help is available. In addition, the Office of Student Success puts up posters in the student lounge and sends out e-mails as well.