Using Personal Diaries to Improve Students’ Academic Writing Skills in English


Most students in Japan leave high school having been exposed to a wide range of grammatical structures and vocabulary items. However, analysis of first-year university students’ written reports showed a marked lack of multi-clause sentences, limited vocabulary use, and confusion about how to structure paragraphs. Additionally, student interviews showed that many students were unwilling to write extensively due to a perception of writing as "difficult" and "boring". This presentation first outlines the research and rationale behind an attempt to rectify these problems. It then follows a case study in which students were asked to write a personal diary every week in order to gain more experience in producing longer pieces of writing. Students were graded on volume of output, and the teachers’ feedback focused on the content of the diary rather than on grammar, structure and spelling. The findings presented here (taken from discourse analysis and student questionnaire results) will suggest that the experience of writing a diary in English can have positive effects on learners’ willingness to produce longer pieces of written work. This leads to increased sentence complexity, a more varied vocabulary, and the ability to structure written reports more effectively.

Author Information
Brett Davies, Showa Women's University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACLL2015
Stream: Language education

This paper is part of the ACLL2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon