Monday, December 03, 2007

esl vs efl

Maybe, just maybe, this is the case:

Purpose of ESL writing in the US: Teach Ss the conventions of English academic writing for use in "content" classes, in which they'll be graded by professors who are well-versed in "inner circle" English writing.
Purpose of EFL writing in China: Teach Ss formula for "a good essay" which will earn them high marks on the TEM and CET exams -- which will be graded by English teachers who may be grading them "Chinese-style*" -- therefore allowing them to graduate from college.

This isn't always true, but it's making me rethink the way I teach. This semester, I mostly taught the writing process and focussed on clearly expressing original thoughts and ideas. We've been going through it step by step, with, I'm sorry to add, little explicit grammar instruction. (Shamefully, I'll try to make up for this in coming weeks.)

Perhaps what the students need -- as much as it goes against my own training and beliefs -- is instruction that's heavy on "correctness." I need to do a lot more thinking about this!

* I don't mean this pejoratively; I just mean that in some cases, writing in a more "Chinese" style may be preferable to writing in a "Western" style. I'm too tired to explain this properly.

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