Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

A Study of the Teaching of ESL Writing in Colleges in China

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

A Study of the Teaching of ESL Writing in Colleges in China

Article excerpt


In China, ESL teaching constitutes an important part of higher education and ESL writing is a required skill for non-English majors in colleges and universities. However, the teaching of college English writing is unsatisfactory and problematic. The author did a survey on the teaching of ESL writing in five universities in China by using the methods of questionnaire, interview and sample collection. The results of the survey indicate that the students' deficiency in English writing is due to personal and instructional reasons, such as ineffective teaching, students' lack of interest in writing, students' poor linguistic competence, students' lack of the cultural knowledge of the target language and so on. In the teaching of college English Writing, the teacher should boost students' motivation, integrate reading with writing, and provide effective feedback to the students.

Keywords: College English, Teaching of ESL writing, Approach, China

1. Introduction

According to the College English Curriculum Requirements (for Trial Implementation) by China Education Ministry in 2004, the objective of College English teaching in China is to develop students' ability to use English in an all-round way, so that in their work and social interactions they will be able to exchange information effectively through both spoken and written ways in future, and at the same time they will be able to enhance their ability to study independently and improve their cultural quality so as to meet the needs of China's social development and international exchanges. English writing is an essential and integral part of English learning and an important skill for the undergraduate of non-English majors. However, English writing is difficult for most of Chinese college students. Many teachers and experts (Pan, 1998; Liu, 1999; Cai, 2002; Yang, 2006) consider that College English writing in China is unsatisfactory and problematic, and they reveal that the writing competence of college students can't meet the requirements of the college English syllabus and the needs of the society. To improve college students' writing proficiency, the study of college English writing is urgently needed. The author, on the basis of second language writing theories, has conducted a study of college English writing teaching in five universities in China, tries to find out the reasons that hinder the development of students' writing competence, and puts forward some suggestions for the teaching of college English writing in China.

2. Literature Review

For many years, the teaching of writing was neglected as a result of concentration on the aural approach (Brookes & Grundy, 2000). It is true that there was a specific demand for spoken language, but the importance of writing should be equally valued. "How to teach writing" in ESL classes is a question that has no definite answer. Different teachers have different teaching styles and methods.

Experts and teachers have stressed many features of ESL writing, and they have developed a variety of approaches to the teaching of writing. Raimes (1983) presents six approaches to the teaching of writing: the controlled-to-free approach; the free-writing approach; the paragraph-pattern approach; the grammar-syntax-organization approach; the communicative approach; the process approach. Nunan (2003) firstly gives a brief comparison between process and product approaches to the teaching of writing, and then presents the functional grammar approach and the discourse-based approach for writing. He also gives some suggestions on teaching: a writing program should incorporate elements of process and product approaches; a teacher should create his own professional practice in the teaching of second language writing based on the related theories.

Many researchers and teachers have studied ESL Writing in Colleges in China from different perspectives. Liu (1999) suggests that college English teachers should attach great importance to writing teaching, and calls for the reform of syllabus design and the establishment of college English writing courses for non-English majors. …

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