“The assignments are the most difficult part of the course. But now I know that there is help to be had”, says Najma Goraya, a second-year student at the Pre-school Teacher Education at UiA. She is one of many students with Norwegian as a second language who receives support from two language tutors to improve her academic Norwegian.
The language tutoring was created as a collaboration between the Department of Academic Affairs and Skrivestua (the Writing Centre) and is funded through the Ministry of Education’s allocation of coronavirus funds for student related jobs.
“I struggled with the academic writing and had trouble understanding the assignment instructions. It feels great to have someone who can help explain what to do before I start writing”, Goraya says.
Her mother tongue is Punjabi, and now she is in the Writing Centre at the library with a language tutor who is also a fellow student. They read the text together and she gets tips on how to make the text more academic.
“I have received feedback that my writing is too colloquial, that my language skills are too weak. Several of my lecturers have offered me to send them my texts so they can help me with the language, but it is another thing altogether to meet someone in person and talk about the mistakes I make and learn how to avoid them”, says Goraya.
Sara Buffetti and Inger Sofie Klokkhammer Jørgensen do the tutoring. Buffetti is Italian. After she first came to Norway as an exchange student in 2015 she has learned Norwegian, taken a master’s degree in Nordic Languages and Literature at UiA, and is currently pursuing a practical pedagogical education (PPU).
“I recognize the challenges students face, since I have gone through it myself. Academic language is not easy for anyone, and it is especially challenging for non-native speakers”, Bufetti says.
Klokkhammer Jørgensen is in her fifth year of the Primary School Teacher Education and sees that the tutoring job has great relevance for the teaching profession she intends to enter.
“Tutoring is great practice and I learn how to explain things in simple terms, such as the difference in meaning between words. These things may be easy for native Norwegian speakers, but everyday words are not always simple”, she says.
How to quote correctly, grammar, punctuation, clauses and the length of sentences are other examples of what they discuss at Skrivestua.
Many of these students come from a different academic culture where they are not used to asking their lecturers questions related to writing or the course.
“Here we can discuss issues and reflect on things. Not everyone is used to this from their home country. Many people have been taught to simply repeat what they have learned. I miss a platform where non-native Norwegian speakers can share such experiences and challenges, and feel part of a community”, says Goraya.
Each tutoring session lasts a maximum of 45 minutes. It is not copy editing or correction of texts, but a more general review of grammar and clarification of concepts.
The tutoring is a drop-in offer which means that you can just show up and that it is not possible to book a time in advance.
Monday 12:00 - 15:00
Tuesday 12:00 - 14:00
Wednesday 12:00 - 15:00
Friday 11:00 - 13:00
Language tutoring in Grimstad takes place digitally every Wednesday from 15:00 - 17:00 and can be booked here.