4 common challenges faced by ESL students in academic writing

Academic writing in English at advanced levels is a challenge even for most native English speakers. However, in particular, the difficulties for the English as a second language (ESL) students increase exponentially. The vast differences in the linguistic and cultural backgrounds add to the struggle.  

The writing ability of ESL students is influenced by factors such as motivation, writing style, writer’s block, self-regulation, and other emotional factors. In addition to these, their mental cognition gets affected and limits their argumentative ability in writing.

Some of the common challenges faced by ESL students in academic writing include

1) Lexical difficulties

The problem with the new words challenge faced by ESL students. Each of the pages/paragraphs require linking of one idea/ argument to another thereby developing coherence within a paragraph. Proper linking of words and phrases does not seem easy for ESL students who are inexperienced in writing a report or academic paper. It affects the quality of the writer’s voice and can result in misleading the readers.

2) Grammar and punctuation

Errors in grammar and punctuation are one of the main reasons why students lose marks in academic papers. This turns to be a huge problem for ESL students who might end up using incorrect words, miss auxiliary verb, confused between punctuations and conjunctions or are not thoroughly familiar with punctuation rules. Due to lack of knowledge about English grammar, ESL often tend to

3) Plagiarism

While some students find it hard to implement their thoughts/ideas in the academic paper, others may find it arduous to incorporate quotations in the sentences. Due to a lack of knowledge in the research topic or in a hurry to complete the academic paper, ESL students may simply borrow content from journals, reports or other sources and directly include them in their academic papers. Also, the students are aware of the rules for when it is appropriate to cite sources thus leading to plagiarism.

4) Text structure

Text structure consists of three segments: Introduction, main body, and the conclusion.                         Students face problems in structuring their paper mainly because of the inability to draw up every single piece considering singularity for all other.

Writing isn’t rocket science. It is a basic skill that needs to be practiced over and over again, especially by ESL students. With the help of a guide and online tutors, one can learn the skills required to write an academic paper and become a pro in writing a paper.

Leave a Reply