Effective communication between Asian ESL tutees and college English tutors




McMahan, Ryan

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This study investigates the dynamics between Asian ESL learners and college-level English tutors. The participants consisted of five Asian ESL learners and three college-level English tutors. One-on-one sessions between the tutors and tutees were observed at the tutors' private residences. Tutees were then interviewed in private immediately after the sessions. These interviews were analyzed using phenomenological description, reduction, and interpretation.

The themes that manifested themselves in the reduction and interpretation are interrelated and contribute to the study of intercultural communication. Nonverbal communication -- a theme common to all participants -- is arguably at the heart of the tutoring session, because when the tutor demonstrates that he or she is receptive to the tutee's contextual cues (nodding, frowning, changes in posture, etc.), a sense of shared meaning occurs, which is the foundation of relational empathy. The resulting feeling of empathy then allows the tutor and tutee to bond, thereby developing a sense of rapport, which is another theme that all five participants cited as essential to the phenomenon. Lastly, the resulting warmth and friendliness associated with rapport allows the tutee to devote more time to learning English grammar. The phenomenon under study involved the dynamics between Asian ESL learners and college-level English tutors, so the implications for the field of intercultural communication are apparent. Suggestions for future research are offered.


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Asian, College, ESL, Tutee, Tutor