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Academic literacies: Academic writing of international Chinese students in Malaysian Higher Education

Present by :Yun Xiao LI (Stephanie) P64690

Background of the study

  • Academic literacy plays an important role in the English language learners, which may have good writing and reading, mainly for international Chinese students’ academic purpose.

  • The need to learn English as foreign language has increased, particularly in non-native English –speaking countries, teaching and learning of the four skills in English are crucial in the area of higher education. writing is conceived to be the most important and the most complicated of the four skills for students to master ( Richards&Renandya 2002).

Statement of the problem

  • In china, students start learning English not very early, also the materials and the text books for teaching are only mainly related to grammar and limited writing.

  • With the rapid development of using academic literacies in higher education, more and more international Chinese students are occurred some writing problem, use more times vocabulary, repeat to use more sentence pattern.

Research objectives

  • (a) To investigate academic literacy practices in terms of writing among the Chinese undergraduate students in the Faculty of Economics and Business at UKM.

  • (b) To find out the main causes of academic writing problems among these students in the Faculty of Economics and Business at UKM.

  • (c) To suggest some solutions to solve the academic writing problems among these students in the Faculty of Economics and Business at UKM.

Research questions

  • 1. What are English language academic literacy practices in terms of writing among Faculty of Economics and Business at UKM?

    2. What are the main causes of academic writing problems among these students Faculty of Economics and Business at UKM?

    3. How do the Chinese undergraduate students to overcome the challenges they faced in acquiring dominate academic literacies in terms of writing?

Limitation of study

  • This is a small- scale study

  • Does not include other international who might experience a similar situation as the Chinese EFL learners in terms of their academic writing problems.

Scope and Significance of the study

  • Will involve 50 international Chinese undergraduate students who are study in the Faculty of Economics and Business at UKM.

  • Which allows the Economics and Business undergraduate students to state their perception and experience about their difficulties in learning to compose in English as a foreign language, also can help them to improve their writing, enhance their interest on the academic literacies.

Literature review

  • New times require new peoples, new literacies constituted and represented through the cultures and languages for communicators.

  • ‘Literacies’ expressing the complex and variety of predispositions, capacities and competences required of the people to respond to the fundamental changes in the life of society and the globe. (Koo Yew Lie 2008)

  • Effective writing and reading are skills that are grounded in the cognitive domain, which contain learning, comprehension, application and synthesis of new knowledge.

  • Writing may instead be a laborious and even dreaded exercise of attempting to place thoughts on paper while developing mastery over the rules of writing, such as spelling, citation format and grammar (Joseph Defazio, Josette Jones, Felisa Tennant, and Sara Anne Hook 2010)

The main causes of academic writing problems

  • Lacked basic skills, such as understanding and executing simple instructions

  • Limited approach to write

  • The characteristics of students with learning difficulties also lead to limited academic writing.

Some solutions to solve the academic writing problems

  • Trioa (2003) suggests that the problems experienced by students in writing effectively are attributing, in part, to their difficulties in executing and regulating the processes which underlie proficient composing, planning and revisions of their work.

  • Cho and Schunn (2007) Given to writing and reading practice outside of the content covered was apparent in higher education is good way to train students’ writing and reading.

  • (Holtzman, Ellliot, Biber, and Sanders, 2005,p.285) The ability to communicate effectively has been recognized as a hallmark for membership in the learned professions.

Theoretical discussions

  • Barton, Gee, Street, Lea and Street: new literacy studies

  • Journet(1990): New contrastive rhetoric

  • Johns(1997): The theory of L1 and L2 literacy

  • Focuses on solve academic writing problems of L1/L2 students, and it is closely related to academic L1 and L2 literacy.

  • It is found that most of these academic writing approaches were used by non-native English speaking students.

  • Many of researchers such as attributed such difficulties partly to insufficient English language education in participants’ home countries, also lacking of English language education in many of EFL countries,with few opportunities to perform English particular academic writing in their home countries.

Research design

  • This is a descriptive and explanatory study using mixed method approach design, namely a integration of quantitative and qualitative approaches

  • For the quantitative method, a questionnaire

  • For the qualitative part, an interview

  • “a mixed method research design is a procedure for collecting, analyzing, and mixing both quantitative and qualitative researchers and methods in a single study to understand a research problem.” The reason for using these two types of research method is to get a rich data for the study.


  • In the questionnaire, 50 Chinese undergraduate students who study Faculty of Economics and Business at UKM will answer the questionnaire.

  • In the semi-structure interview, 6 Chinese undergraduate students will be chosen from the amount of 50 to participate in the interview.

Data collection instruments

  • Quantitative data

  • The questionnaire helps the researcher in gaining students’ feedback towards some questions and problems. using Monkey Survey which is a website for the researchers to do an online questionnaire survey for free

  • Qualitative data

  • For the group interview, the researcher will divided the interviewees into 2 groups, each group have 3 interviewees. the interview questions are asked about the perception and exiting knowledge to know about academic literacies, main writing problems they occurred, and how they overcome these difficulties.

Data analysis

  • Quantitative data analysis

  • For the questionnaire part, the data will picked out and analyzed, reported by using scale. The items in questionnaire used a 5-point liker scale ranging from 1 strongly disagree to 5 strong agree to identify the respondents’ accuracy information.

  • Qualitative data analysis

  • For the interview part, the interview transcription was made according to the record of chat, and then gets the main points to summarize. The reviewed transcripts will keyed in and descriptively analyzed according to emergent themes to answer research questions. Interview data will be summarized to show the main ideas and common answers from respondent.


  • Koo Yew Liew(2008), Language, culture and Literacy: Meaning –making in Global Contexts

  • JosephDefazio, Josette Jones, Felisa Tennant and Sara Anne Hook(2010) Academic literacy: The importance and impact of writing across the curriculum- a case study

  • Troia, G.A. (2003). Effective writing instruction across the grades: what every educational consultant school know. Journal of Education and Psychological Consultation, 14(1), 75-89.

  • Cho, K and Schunn,C.D. (2007). Scaffolded writing and rewriting in the discipline: A web-based reciprocal peer review system. Computer&Education, 48(3), 409-426

  • Journet, D.1990. Writing, rhetoric, and social construction of science knowledge. IEEE translations on professional communication,33-4

  • Johns,A.M. 1997. Text, role, and context: Development academic literacies. New York: Cambridge University Press.

  • Barton, D.(1994). Literacy: An introduction to the ecology of written language. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.


  • Street, B.V, (1984). Literacy in theory and practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

  • Street, B.V.(1995). Social literacies: Critical approaches to literacy development, ethnography and education. London: Longman

  • Lea, M. R, &Street,B.V.(1998). Student writing in higher education: An academic literacies approach. Studies in Higher Education, 23,157-172

  • Lea,M. R.,& Street, B.(1999). Writing as academic literacies: Understanding textual practices in higher education. In C.N. Candlin &K. Hyland(Eds)

  • Mary R. Lea Brian V. Street The “ Academic Literacies” Model: theory and Applications

  • Richards,J,C.&Renadya, W.a.2002. Methodology in language teaching: An anthology of current practice. Cambridge University Press.

  • Cresswell,J.W.2005. Educational research: planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (2nd Ed.) Upper Saddle River,NJ:Pearson.

  • Yin,R.K.Cases study research: Design and methods(3rd .).Thousand Oaks C.A:Sage

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