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I have a friend who doesn't speak English very well. She once asked me to help her with a small text that had just about two paragraphs and I helped her, correcting the mistakes that she made.

After a while, she sent me 4 documents with many pages, and a lot of mistakes.

I don't want to keep reviewing these, but I also don't want to offend her or lose her friendship. I said I was too busy once, then I just ignored when she asked again (after a few months!). It's been another few months, and again she's asking me to review those same 4 documents.

How can I politely refuse to do that and stop her from asking me to do it?

Clarifications:

  • These documents are related to a hobby of hers, it's not for university or for her job.
  • I don't have the time nor the will of reviewing it. She's not offering to pay me and even if she was, I wouldn't want to review it anyway.
  • My main goal is to get her to stop asking for reviewing. I wish her luck with her hobby, but I'm not willing to engage more in helping her to find a way to get these documents reviewed - we are not that close.
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I'm deaf, and American sign language is my first language. I've worked on my English extensively thanks to my mom. This made it so my English is noticeably better than much of my deaf peers. I often got asked to review papers from my deaf peers (whose English wasn't good) during college, and I encountered the same situation as you - not having the time or energy to commit to editing larger-than-a-few-sentences documents.

My solution was to redirect them to resources I knew that could help them. For example, my college had a tutoring center and I usually said

I'm probably not the best person to ask for help editing a longer paper like this, go to [insert resource place/website] to get help with this document. I hope it works out!

The people asking me usually went there and got better help and were happy that they learned about this resource, some were not aware of it and some knew of it but were too hesitant or lazy to go, so with my encouragement they decided to go.

I know that for your situation, you might need to do research online for such a service, or maybe they can find this service at the local school or the local library. Research and let them know about this resource you found for their needs next time they ask.

If they are persistent, be firm and kind and repeat what was said, and maybe adding in that you have other work to do, and can't commit to editing a long document. Being honest and kind will help in this situation. It's not your issue if they are upset that specifically you can't help them with exactly what they want.

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  • As an example of somewhere to refer the friend, you could recommend English Language Learners. They may also be able to help the OP find other sites and services to recommend to the friend.
    – David K
    Jun 20 '19 at 17:49

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