Writing Tutors: Not the Same as English tutors

Karyn Williams, Staff Writer

For the average person, the terms writing tutor and English tutor are synonymous.  If I asked you, “are English and Writing the same thing?”  You – and most others – would say ‘yes’.  But is that really an accurate statement?  My answer is ‘no’.  As an English major with a job akin to a writing tutor, I can say with confidence that English and Writing are not one in the same.  English studies focus on the linguistic and grammatical details specific to the English language while writing is the specific and complex task of delivering messages in written format and takes many different forms.  English is often very rigid in what is appropriate and correct, while writing can be more flexible depending on your style, the message, and the format.  Now, are writing and English completely separate from each other?  No.  They are different but do not exist without each other. You must have an understanding of good writing to know what proper English is and you must know proper English to have good writing.

For this same reason, English tutors and writing tutors are not the same kinds of tutors – though their areas of expertise overlap.  An English tutor would be more focused on your grammar and use of linguistic techniques (such as metaphors or alliteration) to form your message.  A writing tutor is more focused on understanding how you deliver your message and its effectiveness (your use of tone and format for example).  Writing tutors can seem intimidating because they are often English majors.  English majors, because of their understanding of language, often have a leg-up on writers who come from other backgrounds.  But writing tutors don’t have to be English majors to have strong writing skills for the same reason that you don’t have to have an English degree to get a job that requires good writing.  Does it help? Considerably. Is it necessary? No.

In fact, you may be glad to know that none of the writing tutors at Kentucky Wesleyan College are English majors.  They are a collection of students from diverse academic disciplines chosen based on their ability to clearly, grammatically, and effectively communicate messages and well-formed arguments in a written format.  They are well-versed in general writing techniques but will also be able to understand the content of your paper because they just might be the same major as you (you might even share the same classes!).  So the next time you resist seeing a writing tutor because you think your writing won’t impress them or they won’t understand, just remember that writing is all-inclusive.