Recap of seminar on improving international student writing skills

by Simeng (Karen) Li, International Peer
Thursday, March 01, 2018 10:11 AM

This article recaps the Global Skill Seminar hosted by Office of International Students & Scholars on improving international student writing, facilitated by Nastacia Schmoll. The event was held on Monday, February 26, 2018.

Key things to motivate international students to write:
1. Try to connect your students’ goals to the importance of improving their writing skills. Do this both with their extrinsic and intrinsic goals.
2. Encourage your students to connect their interests to the essay topic.
3. Provide incentives, such as the possibility to get published (starting lines, undergrad research blog, etc.)
4. Recognize their strengths and listen to their ideas.

Key things to know about expectations of other cultures that impact writing:
1. Beautiful language
2. Role of the writer’s opinion
3. Copying the professionals
4. Long sentences
5. Abstract ideas
6. Reader responsibility
Note: It is not that your students do not have good writing skills; they might just have different ones.

Important tips for teaching international student writing:
1. Check your assumptions
2. Slow way down
3. Define terms (e.g. “expository”)
4. Try to explain things in different ways
5. Give specific instructions
6. Avoid (or explain) slang and colloquialisms to your students
7. Give examples of the writing you expect from students
8. Break the assignment into parts
9. Be explicit about your learning expectations

Key things to know to give international students written feedback:
1. Read the whole paper before making notes
2. Resist the urge to mark every mistake
3. Identify common errors, give a couple of examples, and then make notes with a suggestion for resources
4. Refer back to the rubric and prompt

Key things to know to give international students verbal feedback:
1. Use non-directive language to:
 (1) Identify what the students think they need to do rather than telling them outright
 (2) Ask questions (what do you mean by this; why did you choose this word)
 (3) Use I statement (as a reader, I…)
2. Gauging understanding. Have your students demonstrate or explain back to you.
3. Making a game plan. Ensure your students know how to continue working on their paper once they leave your office.

Important resources that help international student writing:
1. Human resources: office hours, CLAS writing lab, skills tutors, and peers
2. Physical resources: handouts, and a pocket style manual
3. Technological resources: Writefull, Grammarly, Write-click, and Prezi