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わたし October 18, 2012

The above, which reads ‘watashi,’ means simply “I.” It took my colleague and I two weeks to appreciate this, and we have far from mastered its use. This, of course, is only “I” as expressed in Hiragana, one of Japan’s three written alphabets (the other two being Katakana and Kanji). But that is just the beginning. ‘Watashi’ is only one (gender neutral) way of referring to oneself. ‘Watakushi’ is a more formal (even arrogant) variation; ‘boku’ is a polite masculine form, ‘ore’ an aggressive masculine form (for tough guys). But it doesn’t stop there; atashi, uchi, kochira, ware, wagahai, oira, shessha, atai, yo, and warawa are all distinct ways of expressing “I” in Japanese, each with their own connotations and proper context.

As you can imagine, all of these possibilities leave my colleague and I asking: “Who am I?” Or, to relate it to our work at the UCWBL, who am I as a tutor, in the context of a multilingual partnership? (more…)


Raising ELL Self Esteem September 25, 2012

Conversation appointments come with a host of issues that tutors who primarily tutor might not have even considered. I can confidently say that I’ve had more conversation appointments in the past two weeks than I’ve had over the course of the last year put together, and there was plenty that I hadn’t thought of. What to talk about, how to explain grammatical issues, etiquette, and tone are all essential when talking to a conversation partner, but one thing I never thought about before now was the role of confidence and self esteem. (more…)


CMWR’s Friday Forum is Back! February 24, 2012

The CMWR’s Friday Forum is up and running for Winter Quarter, and this conversation-based group reads through a short text on different aspects of American culture and analyzes it together. Last week we read an article from DePaul’s student newspaper called “G8/NATO summits, security could cost up to $65 million,” a topic that is especially relevant for us Chicagoans, and invoked great discussion on the impacts that the summits will have on the city. (more…)


Agenda Setting in Conversation Partner appointments January 21, 2012

Filed under: what do you think? — Mia Amélie @ 10:00 am
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The UCWbL’s Conversation Partner appointments offer English language learners the unique opportunity to practice conversational English in the Writing Center. Since Conversation Partner appointments are so new and distinct from (though entirely connected to) more “classic” Writing Center approaches to written and linguistic development, considering the structure of these conversation-based sessions may feel unfamiliar or even uncomfortable. There’s just something about structuring conversations that seem so… unnatural… inorganic. But there are methods that we as tutors often used to structure our writing-focused appointments that are entirely applicable to Conversation Partner appointments, namely: agenda setting. (more…)


Read The Page November 18, 2011

Have you read the latest issue of The Page, the Collaborative for Multilingual Writing and Research’s e-newsletter? In this nicely designed PDF, you’ll learn more about what the Collaborative’s members have been up to. For instance, the Collaborative has recently hosted  workshops and book clubs for multilingual writers, particularly those studying at DePaul’s English Learning Academy. But to find out more, you’ll just have to take a read yourself.


Exploring English and Having a Good Old Time Doing It November 2, 2011

On Friday October 7, the Collaborative for Multilingual Writing and Research (CMWR) hosted our first Conversation Group, an initiative designed to address the needs of DePaul and English Language Academy (ELA) students looking to improve their English language skills. You may not have heard of the Conversation Groups before, because it’s a brand new facet of the CMWR initiative, one that was conceptualized by some very quick thinking done by CMWR Coordinator Laura Friddle and the ELA faculty members. (more…)


How Many American Dialects Could There Possibly Be? (We’ll Tell You.) October 26, 2011

*Co-written with Elliot Crumpley.

The Collaborative for Multilingual Writing and Research (CMWR) held a workshop on October 3 focusing on American dialects. To this you might ask yourself… “Really? American dialects?”  The answer is, of course.

The average native speaker of American English is aware of dialects in a general way – we know that someone from Louisiana sounds a lot different than someone from South Dakota.  These differences are sometimes a source of amusement but not really a hindrance for native speakers.  Native speakers develop a general sense of how people sound and what to expect in the language of different regions.  For a non-native speaker of American English however, the varied and sometimes conflicting linguistic identities that exist in the United States can be a source of confusion. (more…)