“When third-year University of Virginia student Lara Jabbour, doing research in neurology early this semester, encountered a patient unable to speak and in tears because of his frustration, an English course she was taking gave her an idea to help him communicate without words.

“In the midst of the Emergency Department, neurology ward, I was a tutor – exercising the very tools and techniques learned in ENPG 3559 [‘Tutoring Writing Across Cultures’],” she wrote to her classmates in their online discussion group. “I was able to approach the problem in a unique manner, allow the tutee to control the discourse, express empathy, and simply listen to the tutee.”

She knew he was there for a follow-up after having had a stroke recently; he seemed to know what he wanted to say, but couldn’t find the words. Along with exercising patience, Jabbour used visual images of everyday items to help him communicate.


Offered through the English department’s Academic and Professional Writing Program, “Tutoring Writing Across Cultures” goes deeper than teaching pedagogy. It encourages students to understand the people whom they are tutoring and take into account their native writing styles. Taught by Kate Kostelnik, an assistant professor of English, the writing seminar incorporates service learning, in partnership with Madison House, the independent, nonprofit volunteer center for UVA students.”

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