chapter  12
17 Pages

Negotiating writing: challenges of the first written assignment at a UK university


In the beginning I was thinking a sentence in Greek and then I was trying to translate that in English. After writing a few essays, words started coming to my mind directly in English.


This chapter draws on the reflections of non-native-English-speaking students (NNESs) concerning their first experience of writing extended essays at a post-1992 UK university.1 I begin by outlining some aspects of academic writing the students identified as challenging: writing at length; finding sources; reading in a foreign language; selecting relevant information; structuring a text; using an appropriate style; checking for accuracy; and observing academic writing conven tions. I then argue from a critical pedagogical viewpoint that, rather than seeing the writing of NNESs as a ‘problem’ to be ‘fixed’ by admissions policies and ‘support’ staff, higher education institutions (HEIs) should reconsider their assess ment strategies in a more inclusive light. Finally I discuss some of the inherent tensions and contradictions in critical English for academic purposes (EAP) teaching.