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Difficulties faced by international students learning English

by: Marilyn Owen (28 January 2015)

The role of the proofreader

Recently, nearly all the proofreading work I have been doing has been from international students studying at UK academic establishments. Though no doubt enthusiastic about their subject areas, and often experts in their chosen fields, it is clear that they have many English language difficulties to surmount when submitting an academic paper.

In these cases, the role of the proofreader is to focus on the grammar, correct and change the grammatical structures, and sometimes second guess what the student is trying to convey! At first, it isn’t easy, but you soon get used to it and become quite good at knowing what they mean or intend to say! Often in cases of missing text and obscurity of meaning, a comment has to be added to state what the problem is.

And the difficulties?

Difficulties in English grammar for international students are varied depending on their mother tongue or L1. The following are typical examples of such difficulties:

  • Difficulties with English tenses. Non-agreement of subject and verb. A tendency to use the “...ing” form – for example, “I am having” rather than “I have”. (Advice is for students to use the simple present rather than the continuous “…ing” form. )
  • Problems with the English definite and indefinite articles; the, and a and knowing where to place the article and when to leave it out.

As well as the anomalies in English grammar, it is important to remember that students’ first language often, for example, has no tenses at all and may not have a separate article.

At WriteItClearly, we are well aware that international students require careful proofreading of their academic documents and we are here to help at all times, even at short notice and at weekends.


Views: 1619

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Ref: 150 Understanding what is meant is sometimes more difficult than the actual proofreading. Takes skill...
Romany - 15:29 28-01-2015
Ref: 149 Many non-L1 students certainly do need help to make their work understandable.
Garry - 14:06 28-01-2015

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