Learning English at the Chinese Writing Center

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Communications Coordinator
Apr 11, 2012


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Education, Student Life

Learning English at the Chinese Writing Center

Chen Chong, from Nankai University, and student tutor Kathryn O’Neil, from University of Connecticut, piece through a paper on Deck 6

At the end of the voyage, Semester at Sea students will have thousands of stories to share with friends and family back home. Dr. Andrea Lunsford, an English professor from Stanford University, believes that each student also has a story worth publishing. During the voyage, Lunsford is teaching one small 12-student class on independent writing, leaving plenty of time to dedicate to the other 550 students at the shipboard writing center.

Lunsford believes that writing education should be constructive, not corrective, and that all students have the skills to become great writers, regardless of their native language. In fact, Lunsford designated a special time each week specifically for foreign students to maximize their writing skills, upon request from the dozen Chinese students on board.

English can be hard enough to speak, let alone write, but ten SAS student tutors volunteer at the Chinese writing center each week to teach the ins and outs of English with their Chinese classmates. They comb each essay sentence-by-sentence and word-by-word, explaining the particulars of participles and idioms of English along the way. In addition to simple grammar, the tutors also cover far broader concepts that challenge even American writers, such as drafting a thesis and forming an argument. The Chinese writing center is right up Lunsford’s alley—she described opening the writing center at Stanford as “the most fun thing I’ve ever done” and she always looks to celebrate writing, not simply hammer in the many uses of the semicolon.

The Chinese writing center is yet another example of the cultural exchange that occurs constantly on-board the MV Explorer. After several months in an English-only environment, the Chinese students are ready to share their home country with their classmates, teaching Chinese grammar and pronunciation to prepare their classmates for their incredible 10th country of the semester.

Click here to read the bio of Andrea Lunsford, who has authored, edited, or co-authored 17 books on writing.

Click here to read Dr. Lunsford’s take on the Chinese writing center.

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