Tips for International Student: living with Academic Writing

APA, MLA, Double Space, One Margin, Font size, topic sentence, thesis statement, Works Cited, Proofreading. All these words become a bomb, which destroys the first-year life of International Student. No matter you got a 23 on your TOEFL Writing, or 7.5 on the IELTS, Academic writing is another world where you need to compete with American Students. When International students write their papers, most of them thinking in their mother languages in head first, and then translate it to English. These thinking and writing process sometimes confuse your instructors. As a Journalism Student, also an international student, I have faced so many problems on Academic Writing. Here are some tips, which I found are very helpful for International students in their Academic Writing. After reading these tips, you will not become a Writing Expert immediately. At least, writing is not that scary anymore.

1.Read the assignment requirement carefully, and understand it thoroughly.

There are many different types of Academic Writing. Most of the time, instructors have some “personalized” requirement. The instructors always list those requirements and explain those in the assignment sheet. There are some cases, when instructors assume that students know how to write an academic writing. They just talk about the requirement generally in a verbal way. At this time, you should not trust your memory. Writing those requirements down will be the saver. If you find out you do not understand some of the terms or the whole requirement, you will definitely need to see the instructors for further explanation or example. Some grammar mistakes may not take that many of the points out of your score, but missing the requirement is an important part of grading rubric.

2.Thinking, Outlining, and then Writing

Please do not jump into the writing step immediately after you got the assignment. Most of instructors value the structure. They like organized papers. You will need two plain paper before you start writing. In the first paper, write down all the thoughts and ideas you have. These ideas do not need to be organized. It is the stage of Brainstorming. The second paper if for outline. Thesis Statement, which is the core of your paper. It is the summary of your main points in one sentence at the end of the introductory paragraph. Topic sentence, which is the summary of one idea at the beginning of each paragraph. If thesis statement is an index of the book, then, topic sentence is the topic of each chapter. Under each topic sentence, write or list how you gonna develop this paragraph, such as the example you will use. Don’t forget the conclusion at the end of your outline. Congratulations! You got your paper in mind!

3. Writing Center is always a good place to go.

Run-on sentence, subject or verb agreement, punctuation mistakes, passive voice, these are some of the grammar mistakes. International student probably will learn it in some of the introductory composition courses. No matter you know it or not, writing center is a good place for you to learn these grammar mistakes through your own writing. You may ask your tutor to identify those different kinds of grammar mistakes or point those out in your paper. Go through your paper with a writing tutor is also a good way to proofread.

4.Leave those templates and format behind.

A lot of international students memorize many writing formats and templates during their preparation stage for TOEFL and IELTS. These templates and formats may similar to some of the academic writings. But don’t forget, these two tests are for International and foreign students. You will start your college academic life with an introductory class of composition. Therefore, leave those formats and templates behind you, and start from a new point in a new place.
My tips may not work for all the International Students. If you do not find these tips helpful, you can use this blog with some stupid grammar mistakes to practice proofreading, and examine your knowledge of grammar mistakes.

Final tips: there are at least five mistakes in this blog.

Name: Luyuan Li
Hometown: China
Degree and Major: Journalism
Graduation Year: 2016

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