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growing_wise in faculty_r_us

Are you a stickler for grammar?

I'll be teaching my second online undergraduate-level class starting next week.  I've received an email from one student who is an international student and I can already tell that her command of the English language leaves something to be desired.  Keep in mind, this is not an English or Writing class; however, being an online class, written communication is vital.

So before I even begin this term, I'd like to know how you all handle international students (or other students who don't have a good command on the English language).  Are you as hard on them as you would be any other student who makes grammatical/spelling mistakes, or do you allow them some extra leeway? 


Normally, I would send them to the writing centre for additional help. In this case, that sounds less likely because the student might not be near the campus for that kind of assistance.

Regarding posting with grammatical and spelling errors, I point my students to a couple of resources beginning with the built-in spell-checker in Firefox (yet one more reason to love the browser). I tell them that for formal posts in the discussion prompts, I expect them to perform at their best. Perhaps directing the student to compose her comments in her word processor first and check for errors (I'd suggest this in the general advice of "What makes a good discussion post".)
I hold them to the same standards as their fellow students.
I would point them at the university support services for international students, I would recommend they consider peer-support and proof-reading, but I wouldn't use discriminatory marking schemes just because they weren't born in an English-speaking country.

As ever, though, I would check what the departmental/school/college/whole university policy was first, if only to make sure that I had alerted them to all the support services available.
As others, I don't have different standards for international students. Even some of my native English-speaking students can't seem to put together a sentence. We have a great writing center so I encourage all students to go there with their writing assignments before handing anything in to me. I also encourage them to use spell and grammar check on their word processor. I did once have trouble with a blind student, but that is another story for another time...

March 2009

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