How Trustworthy is She?: Perception of International Students Toward International Peer Tutors in Writing Centers

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in English


Department of English


Advisor: Jennifer E. Haan


The influx of international students into universities in the United States in the past few years (Project Atlas, 2017) has had a direct impact on the number of international students visiting the writing centers (Hall, 2013; Devet et al., 1997). While studies show that a huge population of international students find writing tutors to be more approachable and helpful than many of their classroom instructors (as cited in Williams, 2002), this same population has reportedly shown resistance in working with international peer tutors in many of the writing centers across the country. Although the “native speaker fallacy” (Phillipson, 1992) is nothing new to the field of language education, the belief that the tutoring skills of the international writing tutors who speak English as their second language is any less than the domestic tutors who are native speakers of English simply defeats the purpose and goal of writing centers— which is to achieve an environment where the tutor and the tutee can engage in a healthy conversation about the writing and the writing process in general. This study sought to find out if “native speaker fallacy” is prevalent among international students in the domain of writing tutoring in writing centers. The findings of the study indicates presence of not only one but two types of native speaker fallacies—markedly making room for categorization of native speaker fallacy. While the first fallacy discovered directly connects with Philipson’s (1992) traditional definition of native speaker fallacy, the second fallacy discovered has little correlation with the definition but is linked more to the cognition that people have about their own linguistic ability in English; the study is naming this newly found fallacy as the outer circle discrepancy. The data collected from this study helps to raise awareness of such biases or fallacies and assists the field of education (writing centers included) to design specialized instructional approaches and awareness-raising programs to educate international students who exhibit either of the fallacies.


Multilingual Education, Teaching, Multicultural Education, Linguistics, Literacy, Language Arts, Language, Ethnic Studies, English As A Second Language, Education, native speaker fallacy in writing centers, types of native speaker fallacies, international peer tutors in writing centers, nonnative English speaking writing tutors, perception of international students toward international peer tutors

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