2.10.2022: Ley writes about being an in-class Language Learning Assistant
Language Learning Assistants bring peer tutoring into the classroom! Heading link
The LCLC is pioneering a brand new Language Learning Assistant program this semester, and I absolutely love being a part of it. The LLA program places experienced peer tutors into beginner language classes once a week as resources for students. LLAs specifically help with group work and make sure students have their questions answered. As someone who went through the beginner language courses at UIC, I would have loved to have someone in the classroom who had been in the classes and knew all of the tips and tricks. Being able to be the extra resource I would have wanted in the classroom is a deeply rewarding experience, and I look forward to every single class.
In addition, when I was in beginner French classes at UIC, I found going to peer tutoring to be a little intimidating. It was advertised at the beginning of each semester, but I was more familiar with and thus more comfortable going to my instructor’s office hours when I had questions.The LLA program helps bridge that gap and make peer tutors more recognizable and approachable to students. Having tutors in the classroom allows students to get to know us better, and that increased comfort is hugely beneficial when it comes to helping students with language skills.
For me personally, being on the other side of the desk has been an incredible experience. Looking at syllabi for the 100-level classes has helped me to understand how learning a language works on more of a classroom level, which in turn has helped me to understand the purposes of various activities both in class and as homework assignments. This gives me more context when I tutor individual students and allows me to focus my questions and guidance accordingly.
LLAs also have a different perspective than instructors, as they have recently taken the classes the instructor is teaching. This student view can help LLAs understand and explain concepts from a different angle than the instructor, sharing the strategies they’ve learned through taking the classes. In addition, studies have shown that peer tutoring has a strong positive impact on learning, as found in this study from 2015 (PDF) Impact of Peer Tutoring on Learning of Students (researchgate.net). Making peer tutoring more accessible to students through placing LLAs in classrooms will only intensify this positive impact, and I look forward to watching the LLA program grow in the future.