International Symposium of English Writing Center in Chinese Universities (2021) Rounded Off


On November 26th and 27th, 2021, the SIS hosted the International Symposium of English Writing Center in Chinese Universities (2021) via online conference, where experts, scholars, and lecturers of English writing centers of universities both at home and abroad discussed, with warmth and in depth, on the theme of the “Challenges and Developments of English Writing Centers amidst the Pandemic”. Prof. Min Shangchao, Vice Dean of the School of International Studies (SIS), delivered the opening speech, extending appreciation for the interest of those present, and expressing the willingness of the University, a supportive institute for the teaching and study of English writing, to collaborate and exchange information with universities around the world.


Group photo of attenders


Prof. Min Shangchao, Vice Dean of the School of International Studies, delivered the opening speech

Three speakers were invited to deliver keynote speeches for the Symposium. Dr. Lisa Bell, chair of the Rocky Mountain Writing Centers Association, was the first speaker. From her perspectives, the workload rocketing since the Covid-19 outbreak outnumbered any time in the 20-year history of online writing centers, and enabled the members of the writing center to review and investigate the ways in which they support the learners. Dr. Bell also shared a study on synchronized and non-synchronized online writing centers. By understanding the working of English writing centers in China with her new insight and practice, she emphasized the benefits brought by online tutoring for language acquisition and digital qualities. The second keynote speaker was Prof. Bradley Hughes, honorary director of the Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. By giving a workshop, Prof. Hughes offered valuable suggestions to all teachers, based on his experience of 35 years as director of a large, comprehensive English writing center, and a consultant for many countries. He stood for culture- and situation-dependent tutorship as well as quality workshops, and his academic interest in China evoked wide echoes.


Keynote speaker: Dr. Lisa Bell

Keynote speaker: Prof. Bradley Hughes

Prof. Teng Lin, a researcher of ZJU “100 Young Professors Program” at the SIS, delivered the last keynote speech. Hers was a review on pedagogical and curricular innovations in recent years to enhance English writing and to motivate learners. In addition, she introduced self-regulation and process-based teaching method in L2 writing, and presented an empirical study to prove that the model was conducive to cultivating proactive and effective learners of English writing.


Keynote speech by Prof. Teng Lin

Some speakers in panel discussions

Moderated by Dr. Zhang Jing from Shantou University was the first panel discussion, where Dr. Lin Xiao from University of California, Irvine explained how the usage of infographics and outlines as preparation tools would impact the writing performance and quality of second language learners; Dr. Meng Meng from Harbin Institute of Technology shared the experience gained in building the HIT International Language Center; Dr. Zhang Jing inspired professionals and educators of all English writing centers with her collection of student views on the closure of a satellite writing center in a college in the northeastern United States; Ms. Sun Yuting from Chang’an University presented the impact of three modes of interaction, namely human-computer, peer-peer, and student-teacher, on students’ English writing competence; Dr. Stephen Johnson from Northeast Normal University shared the visions, values, goals, and strategies for the sustained development of the writing centers at Rutgers University and Northeast Normal University, with the focus on the positive interactions between students and teachers.


The second panel discussion was moderated by Prof. He Jiajia from the University of International Business and Economics. Dr. Chen Fenghua from Nantong University presented a study on the effectiveness of English writing centers in Chinese universities, suggesting that the centers could benefit teachers in terms of writing performance, critical thinking and interpersonal communication; Prof. He Jiajia demonstrated how personalized online tutoring of English writing could improve students’ writing strategies and enhance their writing skills; Ms. Li Jiakang from Nankai University shared her team’s experience of peer tutoring in the writing center, using visual presentation and sentence templates, and suggested that the tutoring should not be limited to languages, but should cover the logic of expression and the development of basic logic; Dr. Liu Chang from Capital University of Economics and Business summarized the gains and losses in the one-on-one online tutoring conducted by the writing center at the University of Sheffield, the UK during the pandemic, and declared the challenges and problems in establishing and developing English writing centers in Chinese universities.


At the end of the Symposium, Prof. Fang Fan, Executive Director of the English Writing Teaching and Research Center, Zhejiang University, delivered the closing speech. By reviewing what has been achieved on the annual symposiums hosted by ZJU in the last four years, she put forward ways to enhance the connection and cooperation among Chinese universities in English writing centers. Faced with the current challenges and potential opportunities, she came up with the viable approach of online exchange, and expected a common growth of all English writing centers with Chinese characteristics and those of various universities.


Those present at the Symposium were scholars from Tsinghua University, Fudan University, Tongji University, Nankai University, Harbin Institute of Technology, Shantou University, Nantong University, Capital University of Economics and Business, University of International Business and Economics, Northeast Normal University, etc. Benefiting a lot from the online Symposium, they agreed with the vision and leadership of the SIS in developing English writing centers in Chinese universities, and felt the potential brought by the Symposium to reform and innovate further studies of teaching English writing in Chinese academia.


English Writing Teaching and Research Center, Zhejiang University

English Major, School of International Studies, Zhejiang University

English--Translation Basic Teaching Organization, School of International Studies, Zhejiang University

Nov. 29, 2021

Translated by Cai Zhengwu

Proofread by Xu Xueying


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