Correcting formatting flaws in EFL academic writing: A case study

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Richard White & Mike Guest, University of Miyazaki

While many university students show aptitude with regard to content and structure in academic writing in EFL classes, they often do not have a good grasp of basic formatting conventions for academic English. An introductory course in academic-level process writing for second-year medical students at the University of Miyazaki presented a clear example of this problem. Students displayed an ability to organize their thoughts and form a coherent thesis, but their physical products were so poorly formatted that they often posed a challenge to the reader. Subsequent research conducted by the teachers revealed that most students had never received any sort of instruction regarding the formatting of academic papers in English. It was also revealed that most students had no experience using common word-processing software (e.g., MS Word) for any sort of writing in English. In this short essay, we will discuss the problem in more detail, how the situation was resolved, and offer samples of the teaching materials that were used to address and resolve the problem.


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