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The University of Southampton
Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research

‘I like to see a picture’: Tutor and student perspectives on the use of visuals in Chinese and British students’ writing Seminar

16:00 - 17:30
14 February 2018
Building 65 Room 1175/Lecture Theatre C Avenue Campus SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Roumyana Slabakova at .

Event details

Part of the annual seminar series for CLLEAR.

The traditional focus within the teaching of academic writing is on language produced as linear prose in genres such as the essay, report or case study, and little research has been conducted on the extent to which additional semiotic modes are used and how these are perceived by discipline tutors and by students. This paper analyses the use and perceptions of resources such as graphs, diagrams, and images (henceforth ‘visuals’), in assessed writing from two student groups: L1 Chinese and L1 English undergraduates in three disciplines (Biological Sciences, Economics and Engineering). The paper explores a dataset of undergraduate assignments drawn from the 6.5 million word British Academic Written English corpus, using corpus linguistic procedures combined with textual analysis. This reveals that the L1 Chinese students make significantly greater use of visuals and also lists than L1 English students in the same disciplines. The presentation then reports on findings from interviews with tutors and students (n=30), exploring their views. It is suggested that academic writing tutors could provide more guidance to all undergraduate students as to the range of acceptable ways of meaning making within assessed undergraduate writing.


Speaker information

Maria Leedham, The Open University. Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and English Language at The Open University. Her main area of research to date has been academic writing, and in particular Chinese students’ writing in UK universities, and a current focus is professional writing. She is Co-I on the ESRC-funded Writing in professional social work practice in a changing communicative landscape (WiSP). Recent publications include: Leedham, Maria and Fernandez-Parra, Maria (2017). Recounting and reflecting: The use of first person pronouns in Chinese, Greek and British students' assignments in engineering. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 26 pp. 66–77. Leedham, Maria (2015). Learning from lecturers: What disciplinary practice can teach us about ‘good’ student writing. In: Lillis, Theresa; Harrington, Kathy; Lea, Mary and Mitchell, Sally eds. Working with Academic Literacies: Case Studies Towards Transformative Practice. Perspectives on writing. Fort Collins, Colorado: The WAC Clearinghouse and Parlor Press, pp. 163–174. Leedham, M. (2015). Chinese Students’ Writing in English: Implications from a Corpus-Driven Study. Abingdon: Routledge. Leedham, Maria (2015). Chinese Students’ Writing in English: Using visuals and lists. English Teaching in China (ETiC), 6 pp. 16–20.

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