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International Student Perception on Writing

Both domestic and international students have preconceived ideas about what constitutes good writing and their ability to meet their professors’ expectations for producing written work. It can be helpful to demystify the writing process explaining that academic writing takes time and practice to master.

A close up of a student writing something on a whiteboard.

Non-native English speaking students, in particular, often:

  • incorrectly equate their writing ability to their grammatical ability rather than their ability to communicate clearly with well-developed content;  
  • assume that native speakers of English can automatically write well;
  • believe that they are at an inherent disadvantage compared to native English speakers and students from other countries.


  1. Explain that academic writing is a learned skill that requires effort, time, and practice.  
  2. Reinforce the idea that everyone can improve their writing with practice regardless of their first language.  
  3. Remind students that writing is a process requiring multiple drafts and revision.
  4. Tell students that perfect grammar does not necessarily equate to good writing. Good writing is based on idea development, organization, and strength of arguments as well as language use.
  5. Define and model what good writing looks like in your discipline. 
  6. Make your expectations for student assignments clear.
  7. Provide rubrics and clear instructions on how writing will be assessed.