Maria Alexeeva

Maria Alexeeva

Linguistics/College of Humanities

2014-2015

Grammar for ELLs: Online Platform

Faculty Mentor: MaryAnn Christison - Linguistics/College of Humanities

Every year, the University of Utah welcomes hundreds of new and returning international students. These students, both undergraduate and graduate, are expected to perform to a certain standard required to earn a degree; however, many of them struggle in their classes because they do not have the language proficiency necessary to complete their coursework. Meanwhile, their instructors struggle as well because having English Language Learners (ELLs) in the classroom can hinder the natural flow of the course and may require adjustment of grading criteria. The major difficulty international students face is composing essays and papers, as well as proofreading and editing them. Even though the university provides English as a Second Language (ESL) courses, which are aimed at addressing this problem, due to the large amount of content and a rather narrow timeframe for these courses, ELLs do not get enough practice to become successful. The purpose of this project was to create an online platform where international students could get additional practice that ESL courses do not have the time to provide.

 

The purpose of this project was to develop an online platform, which would help international students improve their grammar and editing skills. The platform is divided into a number of modules, each focusing on one problematic area of the English grammar. Each module contains several informational sheets explaining a particular grammar item, followed by quizzes to practice what has been learned from the informational sheets. Students can take the quizzes as many times as they wish, and are provided with feedback in the form of hints as to why their response was considered a mistake. In addition, each module has a glossary, which includes all the terms necessary to understand the information provided.  

 

The project can be valuable for both students and instructors. Students have access to the information they require and a chance to practice problematic grammar structures. Content instructors can refer ELLs in their classes to the platform if they see that the students find it difficult to complete their written assignment to a required level. ESL instructors can assign the modules or specific informational sheets and exercises either as homework for all the students in their class or as extra work for students who find it difficult to keep up with the pace of the lessons. The platform has been created in such a way that no instructor or moderator is necessary, which increases its value as a resource because it does not require additional expenses on the part of the department or university. It is also expected to be available for any department within the University of Utah. The texts used in the resource, though each focusing on a topic from a different discipline (e.g., history or paleontology), come from popular science magazines, and do not require knowledge of very specific terminology, which makes it possible for students from any department to use this resource.