Writing Tips

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

ESOL Common Issues in Standard Academic Writing

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

Contact Information

Barbara Britt-Hysell

Director of the English for Speakers of Other Languages Program
 KJ 222D and 222E
315-859-4150 bbritthy@hamilton.edu

Office Hours

Academic Year

Aug 25 – May 14

M 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

T 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

W 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

T 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

F 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Weekend conferences by appointment.
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