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Academic Paper

Title: Toward the understanding of Chinese ESL writing
Author: Min Hu
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: English
Chinese, Mandarin
Abstract: It is worth noting that an increasing number of international students, especially Chinese students, have been flooding into English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States or Australia in pursuit of advanced knowledge and better academic environments. As ESL students are enrolling in writing courses in colleges and universities, teachers are confronted with problems that non-native speakers bring to the class when it comes to their academic writing. The problems are more serious than they appear to be. For one thing, according to Reid (1993: 774), there is a dramatic difference between native students and ESL students in ‘the needs, backgrounds, learning styles, and writing strategies’. For another, the situation becomes worse due to ‘considerable diversity even among ESL students in terms of language and cultural backgrounds, prior education, gender, age, and ESL language proficiency’ (Reid, 1993: 774). Although there is not a single solution which is effective in solving complex ESL issues, teachers would be in a better position to understand their ESL students' writing problems if they were to learn about the distinct nature of L2 writing shaped by linguistic and cultural differences. In this article, the author, who was once a Chinese ESL student in the USA and is now an EFL teacher in China, explores how English writing differs from Chinese writing and how these differences lead to Chinese ESL students' difficulty with English writing. This article is expected to increase ESL practitioners' awareness of the urgency for them to recognize and deal with these differences in order to teach L2 writers effectively, to treat them fairly and thus provide them with equal opportunities to achieve academic and professional success.


This article appears IN English Today Vol. 30, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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