Today I had a conference with one of my international Writing 121 students. When I noticed that he was making a lot of jumps between ideas, jumps that I could easily follow as a working reader, I told him to pretend that his readers were very lazy and stupid, and that he had to do all the work to make the connections. He immediately caught on, and I explained that in America, our writing is very direct and we make all the connections for our readers. He explained that in China, the writer could “write anything” and it was up to the reader to the do the work.
The writing center video we watched on differences in writing for international students was very helpful in making this connection for me as a teacher, and in helping me verbalize this difference in writing styles for my student. I think that one key of advice might help this student with his writing more than any other help that I’ve given.