General Question

8lightminutesaway's avatar

What should I tell this kid?

Asked by 8lightminutesaway (1413points) May 25th, 2008

I’m in a group of 4 doing a certain lab and our lab report is due tuesday. One of the kids, who happens to be Chinese and not have great english, volunteered to the discussion section, and the we dished out the other sections. Well he recently emailed his section to me, and I can’t understand it all. I’m a smart person, but the grammar makes no sense whatsoever, so I don’t even know what point he was trying to get across. Now, me and another guy have to get together and rewrite it. The fourth guy is also chinese with bad english. Should I say anything to the guy who wrote the discussion? If so, what should I say to him? I don’t want to be offensive but if he wants to work in a lab he has to learn to write a lab report.

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25 Answers

buster's avatar

tell him to use grammar check next time.

GD_Kimble's avatar

Be honest with him. You’re in an English speaking environment and if YOU’RE having trouble understanding, imagine what someone who’s not familiar with the project would go through reading the report. You have to tell him. It’s not a comment on his knowledge or skills, just on his English. The reverse would be true if you were working in a Chinese speaking lab.

TheHaight's avatar

Just tell him the honest truth, it doesnt make much sense. I think you’d be helping him out if you took time to help him with grammar, etc. Turn it into a teaching experience!

iwamoto's avatar

it may be a bit painfull but yes, tell the truth

wildflower's avatar

Tell him you didn’t understand it. Give him a chance to explain it and if you can, pinpoint where it failed together. He’ll want to know and learn from it.
If it makes you more comfortable, take a laidback approach, maybe suggest you’re not with it or that you’re not bright enough to understand. That way you won’t seem preachy or condecending (sp?)

Response moderated
iamatypeofwalrus's avatar

points up I hope that was dripping with sarcasm….

Get together with him and help him write the section before the lab is due. Who knows, you may need his help with Chinese one day. In fact, you will someday in the very near future.

TheHaight's avatar

“aww”: I really didnt like you to begin with, but got over it. But now seeing your answer on here makes me really dislike you.
Immigrants that come to America for a new start deserve the same respect. How are you to say that they should learn English before coming here?

delirium's avatar

Not only do immigrants deserve our respect…. unless you’re a native american, you happen to be an immigrant TOO.

You lost my respect when you were making homophobic bigoted comments in chat. I was trying to be nice about it… but this is just too much.

marinelife's avatar

If at all possible, I think it would be great if you could include him in the rewrite process. Also, try to show him the reason for changes or the associated grammar rule so he can absorb it for next time.

@Awww May you reap what you sow.

gailcalled's avatar

Are you in HS or college? Sometimes it is very difficult to be part of a project (a peer) and the English teacher, also. Is there a Writing Lab? Many colleges or universities offer them, for both rewriting and ESL. My cousin teaches a course called “Writing for Engineers” at U. Penn.

If you are dealing with a really incomprehensible long report, you may want to get an extension from the professor; explain why and ask him for suggestions.

(pssst – “Another guy and I have to )

richardhenry's avatar

@Awww: There’s no need to be so obtrude and mindlessly abusive, you’re completely ignoring circumstance.

BirdlegLeft's avatar

Not an answer to the question, but I had to make a comment. It makes me feel good to be a part of a group that will not tolerate ignorant remarks like Awww’s. Thanks Flutherites!

nikipedia's avatar

Is it really your job to tell the guy his grammar sucks? I have a feeling he knows already and I’m guessing he’s pretty embarrassed. Maybe you should call this one a “karma case”—fix his mistake because it saves your grade too and let life sort the rest of it out for him.

occ's avatar

When giving feedback, it’s often helpful to use a “sandwich” method – “here’s what you did well, here’s something to work on, thanks again for what you did well.”
Something along the lines of “Hey, thanks so much for the questions – the content is really good. There are a few parts where I think what you’re trying to say would come through better if we made some gramatical changes. I’d be happy to volunteer to make those edits—would you like to do it with me or would you rather have me go ahead and do it…thanks for getting it in on time, and let me know what you think.”

I lived in Chile for a while and attended classes at a Spanish-speaking University there. I would have LOVED if someone had volunteered to help me with something like this, as long as they were friendly about it and didn’t make me feel stupid. The few times I had to do a public presentation in a foreign language, I was very nervous about it, and I really wish a native speaker had offered to review it and help me make changes.

DeezerQueue's avatar

He probably already knows that his English is not exemplary. However, the class is not about English, it’s about something else.

You should tell him that his input needs to be worked on, based on the fact that it’s not always clear what his point is because English is his second language. I would also offer to assist him in any way, including helping to him to find extra language resources if he is interested. He is clearly hard working since he did his part, even though it may not have been up to your standards, and should be rewarded for his efforts because I do know there are plenty of other students who might even stiff you when it comes to turning in their share.

If you can’t make sense of it, though, don’t rewrite it without his input because you may also be missing the essence of what he’s trying to say, he should be included in this as well, and will only benefit from it on various levels; that someone will actually take the time to do it, but how native American English speakers formulate and articulate their thoughts onto paper.

This is the part of the process that helps immigrants to succeed. I can tell you this from experience because I am an American immigrant to the Netherlands.

richardhenry's avatar

@occ: very good points. I would certainly appreciate the help if I was in his position.

@DeezerQueue: although the class isn’t about English, communication is an important aspect in anything. I would appreciate any offers of assistance, even if they are not directly related to the task at hand. Perhaps he will.

DeezerQueue's avatar

@richardhenry I know, that’s why I suggested that he be there during the rewrite, for his input. If not, it will take him much longer to learn how things are formulated and framed in English, and they might well be missing the essence of what he is trying to say, which may be something they may have entirely missed. He most likely also has a different thought process because of a different cultural upbringing that makes it difficult for him to express because of language limitations. It’s what I experienced.

8lightminutesaway's avatar

thanks for all the responses guys. I sent him an email telling him about his grammar and I sent him some of my corrections so he could see. The problem now is that not only is his grammar terrible, but one I deciphered it, he is just completely wrong! I have to rewrite his section of the lab report and the write mine, and I simply don’t have time. Even if I tell him how wrong he is, someone has to correct it before we turn it in and everyone in my group seems to be incompetent, so I have to do it myself. This is very frustrating. Thanks again for your responses.

DeezerQueue's avatar

Did you decipher it without his input?

8lightminutesaway's avatar

yeah, there was no time to arrange a meeting. Trust me, it was wrong. very obviously wrong. Idk, I’ll see him tomorrow and we’ll talk about it.

iamatypeofwalrus's avatar


lab reports suck

TheHaight's avatar

Oh well! There can always be worse. If you get a bad grade, talk to your teacher privately, and tell him the situation. You tried your hardest man.

scamp's avatar

Complaining about his grammar when your own is not perfect is a little like the pot calling the kettle black, don’t you think?

8lightminutesaway's avatar

I don’t think so, because this is a forum, and I don’t need perfect grammar. Point taken, but I don’t think you understand the extent of how unreadable it was… Its ok though, we survived.

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