Outreach to ESL Students

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Every time I teach an ESL instruction session I learn something new about myself and the students. I truly appreciate teaching this group of students as they are so inquisitive, invested, and appreciative of any assistance. Yesterday I noticed that many students were silently repeating my directions afterwards. They were working on their pronunciation of library and research terms. The library comparison handout I created based off of John Hickok's from "Knowing Their Background First" in International Student and Academic Libraries: Initiatives for Success. This provided an excellent jumping off point for discussion, including different types of reference tools, such as encyclopedias, handbooks, etc. as a place to gather background information and formulate research topics. Many student were surprised to find that they can chat with a librarian 24/7.

eslhandout.pngThroughout the tour we chatted about the differences between their home libraries and the UMN. Many from China and Korea were disappointed that textbooks are not provided in the Libraries. At many of their home institutions textbooks were provided by the library for the term. The hardest part of the class always comes down to doing a search in the library catalog or a database. Students often have a hard time grasping that you need to distill their ideas down to concepts and type in the concepts not complete sentences with fillers. Multiple examples and working one-on-one with students seems to help, along with a revised handout that is more direct.

International Students and Academic Libraries outlines many things that we current do:


  • International Education Week displays and events: We have an open house and frequent displays around the Libraries

  • Orientation: We offer orientation sessions for international students, along with in-depth classes for graduate students the week before semester starts

  • One author had interns work on a leisure reading collection in Chinese. I could see this expanded to Chinese and Korean here at the U, if funding was provided

  • The topic discussion and evaluation by Amy Hofer and Margot Hason Golden Gate University was interesting: moving from a librarian to a peer critique using too broad, too narrow or just right (after a discussion of Goldilocks and the Three Bears).

  • Many authors talked about outreach to specific student groups; this is an area we can grow in at UMN.

  • Another author created case studies around academic integrity, such as: Is it okay to include sources you didn't actually use in your paper? Are hiding books in the library for your use only, okay?

  • Other areas that we could inprove in are: online guides for international students, popular materials in their native language,

I have a lot to learn about working with ESL students, and as I discover new sources and approaches I will share them here.

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