Colleges and universities are now requiring writing courses for all undergraduates. Often, at least two writing courses are taught, either in the students’ first year of study or in their first and second years. Unless carefully planned, staffed and conducted, these writing courses can become a burden on both students and teaching staff. I have observed how such courses, administered by staff who have no expertise in managing (second language) writing programs, frustrate the students with inappropriate textbooks and poorly planned writing assignments while burdening the teaching staff with excessive marking of papers.
A case in point is the use of outdated textbooks, which adhere to “modes” such as example, comparison and contrast, classification, process analysis, cause and effect, and argumentation. Long abandoned in the West, these “modes” are the basis for writing instruction at many colleges and universities in Asia and elsewhere.
In the early 1990s, at the University of South Alabama in the USA, I designed and taught writing courses for ESL students. I also trained teachers who had no experience with ESL students to teach these courses. My coauthored textbook for ESL students, Writing from Sources (1995), was prescribed at a number of colleges and universities in the USA. At the Chinese University of Hong Kong, I designed and taught courses titled “Introduction to Academic Writing” and “Technical Communication” for the English Language Teaching Unit. Later, at the English Department, I coordinated and prepared lesson material for some courses in the required writing sequence for first and second year undergraduates. I also coauthored a textbook titled Introduction to Academic Writing (2005) for Chinese students.
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• suggest course revisions
• advice you on appropriate textbooks
• assess staffing needs, and
• train your staff to teach writing more effectively.
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