English for Speakers of Other Languages

Barbara Britt-Hysell

The ESOL office is located on the lower level of Buttrick Hall.

Writing Tips

ESOL Common Issues in Standard Academic Writing

“Language shapes the way we think and determines what we think about”

As a development factor of composition, a nonnative speaker’s pervious English language instruction program may facilitate or hamper the cross-cultural similarities and differences in rhetoric and style found within his or her academic writing. Reformulation is a tutoring strategy that enables learners to hear the differences between their version and the native speaker’s version, to see the similarities, and to learn from realizing the discrepancies.

In a Writer’s Reference Sixth Edition, (Bedford/St. Marin’s) Diane Hacker advocates that both native (NS) and nonnative speakers (NNS) of English share similar challenges with verbs:

  • making subjects and verbs agree
  • using irregular verb forms
  • leaving off verb endings
  • choosing the correct verb tense
  • avoiding inappropriate use of the passive voice

For a native speaker, most sentence level skills such as spelling, punctuation and grammatical accuracy are established early in life and the awareness of them declines as they become relatively automatic.
For a nonnative speaker, systemic issues relate to innate skills and characteristics of a native speaker such as the grammatical and mechanical practices:

  1. American English, vocabulary, word choice
  2. articles; count and non-count nouns; when to use and omit “the”
  3. prepositions and idiomatic expressions
  4. agreement/modals
  5. pronouns and their respective possessive adjectives
  6. using the wrong part of speech
  7. active and passive voice (form and function)
  8. sentence structure/boundaries
  9. gerunds and infinitives
  10. punctuation, quotation marks