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Professors' Reactions to the Academic Writing of Nonnative-Speaking Students

Terry Santos
TESOL Quarterly
Vol. 22, No. 1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 69-90
DOI: 10.2307/3587062
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3587062
Page Count: 22
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Professors' Reactions to the Academic Writing of Nonnative-Speaking Students
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Abstract

The study reported in this article investigated the reactions of 178 professors to two 400-word compositions, one written by a Chinese student and the other by a Korean student. The professors, 96 of whom were in the humanities/social sciences and 82 of whom were in the physical sciences, were each asked to rate one of the two compositions on six 10-point scales, three of which focused on content (holistic impression, development, and sophistication) and three of which focused on language (comprehensibility, acceptability, and irritation). The results were as follows: (a) Content received lower ratings than language; (b) professors found the errors highly comprehensible, generally unirritating, but academically unacceptable, with lexical errors rated as the most serious; (c) professors in the humanities/social sciences were more lenient in their judgments than professors in the physical sciences; (d) older professors were less irritated by errors than younger professors, and nonnative-speaking professors were more severe in their judgments than native speakers. The results suggest the need for greater emphasis on vocabulary improvement and lexical selection.

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