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This essay is mainly discussing about some ideas of Dr.Carlos Linn(2009), to prove it is necessary that an international students must learn a new way of thinking and writing when they come to study in a UK-type academic environment.
KEYWORDS: International students; differences; thinking and writing; UK-type academic environment
Every year, more and more overseas students choose UK to continue their study. There were 223,850 international students (excluding EU) enrolled at UK HEIs in 2005-06, an increase of 64% in just five years. There were a further 106,000 EU students in 2005-06. (HESA, 2006) Therefore, each student has to face the same question, is it true that an international student must learn a new way of thinking and writing when they come to study in a UK-type academic environment?
According to Linn (2009)'s ideas, the answer is YES, for three reasons discussed below: cultural backgrounds influence international students' way of thinking; the characteristic of English way of writing; the difference between the UK-type writers and international students.
2.1 Different Cultural Backgrounds, Different Thinking
According to Linn (2009, cited in Kaplan, 1966) stated that all written languages contain a variety organizational types or "patterns", and that native speakers of those languages recognize which patterns to use and the consequences of their choices.(line24) Kaplan also had identified 4 cultural patterns: Anglo Saxon, Semitic, Oriental and Romance/Russian. Anglo Saxon often used by UK writers, different from the international student. For example, Chinese and Japanese students might choose Oriental in thinking, which means the sentences circle round the topic, they dislike any explicit and judgments or conclusions.
Linn's point of view is probably right. International students come to UK with different cultural backgrounds, the "patterns" of thinking and writing maybe constant. It is difficult for them to adapt their cultural patterns into the new environment, even the adaptation is really essential. Students need to communicate with classmates and tutors directly, if the "pattern" gap still exists, misunderstanding will cause masses of troubles. Take Chinese essays for an example, main ideas might be found at the end of the paragraphs in most of cases, but a UK-type reader may skip it because they usually put the key words at the beginning. That is one of the reasons for getting a lower score. In general, adapting to a new culture of thinking is a better way to make study easier in the new environment.
2.2 Different Characteristics, Different Writing
Linn (2009) pointed out five contrastive characteristics based on the research of Connor (1996), Cortazzi and Jin (1997), and Schneider and Fujishima (1995).(line44) Those are "Explicit Discourse Makers", "Introduction-Body-Conclusion", "Non-Metaphorical Usage", "Linear Structure" and "Deductive Style". Those are meaningful to the international students.
For instance, explicit discourse markers to signal relation between sentences and parts of texts should be used in English essays that can help students organize points and help readers follow one sentence to another. At the same time, Ventola and Mauranen (1991) believed that native English writers used more connecting words than Finnish writers. As a result of that, number of linking words in a text even can show if the text is English style or not. The situation is totally different in Chinese writing style. Chinese articles believe "Less is more" as a tradition; it is hardly to find any linking words in an ancient poem or essay. In contrast, English writing has to use many linking words to help readers know about the contents. So if one do not use connectors in an English article, it may be tough to understand. When international students were writing, they should do more practice about using connectors.
Lin (2009, cited in Trujillo Saez, 2003) also claimed that although all languages use metaphors to convey meaning, there are some differences.(line78) Like UK media or American business communications all use high levels of metaphor, but English writers clearly restrict the amount of metaphor which they used in the field of published academic papers. No mater which kind metaphor is, the reader need to have a large mount of knowledge to understand. Besides, the literary essay may have more metaphors while the academic one has only a few metaphors. Students should't write their academic essay like a poetry that contains lots of metaphors, they ought to adapt to the characteristics of UK-type writing.
2.3 Different Writers, Different Styles
Linn (2009) used Sondek (2008)'s research about three groups of PhD students from a variety of academic subjects in different writing styles, to evaluate academic writing styles there would be statistically significant differences between the UK and non-native writers.
Some UK writers is more likely that using main thesis of the essay within the first paragraph, and moving directly from the main idea to explanations and examples, while the non-UK writers are completely different. In that case, UK readers may argue that non-UK writing style somewhat over complex, it may little logical to understand. As a result, international students might have to change their thinking and writing style in UK-type academic environment.
The essay shows that different cultural backgrounds influence different way of thinking; different characteristic of English makes different way of writing; the difference between the UK-type writers and international students makes different styles. It is also proved that international students should adapt to all these differences. All in all, is it true that an international student must learn a new way of thinking and writing when they come to study in a UK-type academic environment.