Investigating the interrelationship between academic english writing and sociocultural identities: From the perspective of international students from China

Year: 2012

Author: Fang, Fang

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


The purpose of this paper is to explore the cross-cultural transition of international students from China and investigate the interrelationship between academic English writing and their sociocultural identities at western institutions. Academic English writing, as a pivotal means of communication and assessment in higher education in the West, enjoys a paramount status exalted on campus. However, due to different cultural, philosophical and intellectual conceptualization, to write in a different educational context could be a confronting challenge to international students. Along the fast track of educational globalization, there are an increasing number of Chinese students studying overseas. Against this background, this research aims to analyse how the international cohort of Chinese students attempts to emerge from the politico-historical and sociocultural conditions of China to adapt to the academic English writing in the host culture. The research is a qualitative study which adopts a methodology of in-depth semi-structured interviewing. Four TESOL Masters students are invited to recollect and reflect their writing experiences of this cross-border transformation. The findings show that English writing not only involves a linguistic aptitude but also relates to a repertoire of sociocultural identities juxtaposed and contextualized in the process of written production.  The result suggests that writing in English be regarded as a matrix for negotiation between a myriad of transcultural identities and navigation over unknown territories. It intends to enhance the growth of students' writing by expanding academic study to a broader sociocultural sphere so as to create active engagement and inclusive participation to achieve success for overseas students that could only be realized when self is interactively connected to others through a vibrant society.

Keywords: international students from China; academic English writing; culture; identity