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.
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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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