Editor’s note: Zhejiang University will be hosting the 2020 International Symposium of English Writing Centers in Chinese Universities from October 30 to November 1. Click here to learn more.

                        Inside the EWC

The Zhejiang University English Writing Center (EWC) is affiliated with Zhejiang University, one of China’s top higher education institutions located in Hangzhou, Zhejiang. The university has seven campuses and is organized across seven faculties and 37 schools. Till the end of 2019, the university has over 57,000 full-time students, over 53% of whom are graduate students. For all non-English major undergraduate and graduate students, English is a compulsory course offered by School of International Studies, Zhejiang University.

English Writing Center began firstly in 2000 when two English professors from School of International Studies, based on their visiting-scholar experience in American Universities, felt it necessary to give one to one instructions for those students in need of help. However, EWC of 2000 was not running well that it ended three months later, mostly because of people’s weak concept of English writing as simple translation from Chinese to English at that time as well as the lack of instruction space, instruction payment, proper tutors and others. It was not until in 2016 that EWC once again was put forward by Fang Fan, an English professor and vice dean of School of International Studies, as a proposal in Faculty and Staff Congress of 2016. Fang stated the need in these words:

“…With the promotion of global engagement in Zhejiang University, more and more students, especially graduate students, are involved in English academic paper writing and international publication as well as English presentation and communication. Thus, it’s quite urgent for us to restart EWC and help Chinese students, and also some teachers, to improve their English academic writing.”

The proposal was soon accepted, supported and funded by both undergraduate school and graduate school in Zhejiang University. The center is housed in School of International Studies. It develops quickly and now it has three branches in three campuses: Zijingang Campus (main campus), Xixi Campus and Huajiachi Campus.

     KONG Yuan 孔媛, Assistant at the EWC

Unlike other EWCs, we have no peer tutors but three professor tutors regularly and a few professors just when-in-need. Fang, as the director of EWC, arranges regular courses, lectures and activities etc., and Kong Yuan, an English Ph.D. candidate, as the EWC assistant, helps with EWC’s arrangements and appointments of one-to-one instructions. Regularly EWC offers quarter-course of English academic writing and lectures of various writing topics, and hosts international symposium, international writing workshop and writing contest as well as giving one-to-one instructions upon appointment. In Chinese universities, EWC is still quite new to most students.

                                 Lectures

To arouse students’ attention to EWC, we opened quarter-course all year round, offering basic steps and structure of academic writing, how to choose research topics, thesis writing, citations, among others. During the courses we also encourage students to join activities of EWC and bring the news of EWC to their classmates and friends in the university. Students get proper credits from the courses and know more about EWC functions. The course is more attractive to graduate students for their very practical needs of English academic writing. Often EWC invites professors of different academic fields, journal editors, prolific Ph.D. students and company owners to give lectures on various writing topics. Thousands of students, both undergraduate students and graduate students, have participated the lectures.

                          International Symposium 2019

To develop and promote EWC in Chinese universities, from 2018, we started to host “International symposium of English Writing Centers in Chinese Universities” yearly, which attracts lots of scholars, professors and tutors both domestic and abroad. In 2020, the symposium will continue online and offline in November in spite of the Covid-19. In fact, the Zhejiang University EWC has been so active and received lots of attention that our first Dingtalk International workshop “paper writing and international publication”(September 1-6, 2020), funded by Graduate School of Zhejiang University, has attracted over 2,000 Dingtalk audiences. And when we initiated a nation-wide “Academic English Writing and Speaking Contest for Graduate Students” in May 2020, lots of universities in China echoed and the final round of contest will be held on October 31, 2020.

               One-on-one instruction

Students visit the center mostly with writing their term papers, journal paper as well as other writings such as CV, personal statements and proposals. Till now about 1,000 students have visited the center. The language of engagement is English for English professor tutors, and both Chinese and English for Chinese professor tutors. The center provides both online and offline one-to-one tutoring. Students make appointments mainly via EWC Wechat official account. Also students can contact EWC assistant when they need more information of other professors who give help when needed.

English Writing Centers in Chinese Universities now are developing very quickly. Among Chinese Universities, Zhejiang University is taking the lead in running EWC both in its concept and its practical management. We are seeking not only to establish a platform for Zhejiang University teachers and students, but also to cooperate with other Universities both in China and in other parts of the world.

浙江大学是一所声誉卓著的高等学府,坐落于中国浙江杭州。学校现有7个校区, 7个学部和37个学院(系)。截至2019年底,学校有57,000多名全日制学生,其中研究生比例超过53%。公共英语课是在校本科生、硕士生和博士生的必修课,浙江大学外语学院全面负责提供该门课程。

早在2000年,外语学院两名在美国高校做过访问学者的教授,曾提议为有英文写作需要的学生提供一对一的辅导,并建立英文写作中心。但这个中心3个月后就关门了,原因主要是当时人们对英文写作的理解不够,认为英文写作也就是简单的语言翻译,再加上中心也缺乏固定空间、教师工作量无法认定、咨询导师也比较难找。2016年,外语学院副院长方凡教授向校教代会递交了建立英文写作中心的提案,并指出,“随着浙江大学的国际化发展,越来越多的学生,尤其是研究生,不仅需要提高英文表达和沟通技巧,也需要提高英文学术写作水平和国际发表能力。应当立刻重启英文写作中心,为广大师生提升英文学术写作提供帮助”。这一提案很快得到了学校本科生院和研究生院的大力支持。2017年英文写作中心落户外语学院,并开始迅速发展。迄今为止,英文写作中心已在紫金港校区(主校区)、西溪校区和华家池校区都设立了分点。

浙江大学英文写作中心的常规性辅导由3位中外籍教师担任,此外,按学生咨询的需求,中心也会提供其他临时进行辅导的中外籍教师。方凡教授担任英文写作中心的主任,负责安排各类常规讲座和活动,中心助理孔媛是一名在校英语专业博士生,负责协助写作中心的各类讲座和活动,并应学生需求安排一对一的预约辅导。英文写作中心除了提供一对一辅导之外,还设立短期英文学术写作课、各类写作讲座、主办年度国际研讨会、国际写作工作坊和写作比赛等等。目前,中国高校对英文写作中心这个平台还不是很熟悉。为了吸引学生关注英文写作中心,我们常年开设短学期英文写作课,讲授英文学术写作基本步骤、学术选题、毕业论文写作、规范引文等。课程期间,我们鼓励学生参加写作中心的活动,并把有关英文写作中心的信息传播给其他同学或朋友。选课的学生不仅修课拿学分,还对写作中心这个平台功能有了更深的了解。出于英文学术写作的实际需求,这个课程相对来说对研究生更有吸引力。写作中心也常常不定期邀请专业背景不同的教授、期刊主编、学术高产的博士生和公司老板进行各种写作讲座,吸引了数千本科生和研究生。为推进中国高校英文写作中心的发展,2018年开始,我们一直主办“中国高校英文写作中心国际研讨会”,吸引了众多海内外专家学者和老师参加。2020年,尽管受新冠肺炎疫情影响,国际研讨会仍将以线上线下结合的形式于11月继续举行。事实上,浙大英文写作中心活动丰富多彩,一直受到很多高校和学生的高度关注。2020年9月1日-6日,英文写作中心主办的“论文写作与国际发表”国际工作坊吸引了2000多名钉钉在线观众。2020年5月,中心率先发起全国性“研究生学术英语写作和演讲大赛”,得到了多所中国高校响应,决赛将于2020年10月31日举行。

学生到英文写作中心来咨询的,大多是学期论文、期刊发表论文,以及简历、个人陈述、项目计划等等。迄今为止中心已接受大约1000人次的咨询。外籍辅导教师和学生用英文交流,中籍教师则用中英双语交流。中心提供线上线下的一对一辅导,学生通过中心微信公众号进行预约。同时,学生也可以联系中心助教,提供个性服务。

当前中国高校英文写作中心发展迅猛。浙江大学英文写作中心无论在中心运行理念上,还是在实践操作上,都处于全国高校领先地位。中心力求为浙江大学师生提供英文写作的交流平台,也诚心愿意和国内外高校进行高水平合作。

About the author:

FANG Fan 方凡 is a professor in English Department, School of International Studies, Zhejiang University, P. R. China. She holds a Ph.D. in English & American Literature (Xiamen University) and has over 20 years of teaching English as a second language, and English & American literature. She has been the director of English Writing Center at Zhejiang University since 2017. As an professor of literature, she has a passion for helping students with English academic writing, one-to-one tutoring, writing center research and development. She has arranged professors, scholars, editors, and company owners to give lectures and instructions with various writing topics both online and offline and also organized international symposium of English writing centers and national contest for English academic writing and speaking. To connect with Fang, please email: hzhzdonna@zju.edu.cn.

If you would like to tell us about your writing center, please contact us at writinglabnewsletterblog@gmail.com.

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