Academic Writing in Korea: Its Dynamic Landscape and Implications for Intercultural Rhetoric

November 2017 – Volume 21, Number 3

Eun-Young Julia Kim
Andrews University, USA
<keunatmarkandrews.edu>

Abstract

Previous studies on intercultural rhetoric have frequently drawn from examples from Asian writers, especially those of Chinese and Japanese origin, but relatively little information has surfaced in scholarly literature regarding L2 writers from Korea. To fill this gap, this article provides an overview of how academic writing is conceived and practiced in Korea. By examining current practices and conceptualizations concerning academic writing, the study highlights strong similarities between Korean and Anglophone academic writing. In doing so, it seeks to demonstrate the importance of considering complex institutional, political, as well as individual factors that influence second language writers in their home culture in advancing the ongoing disciplinary dialogue on intercultural rhetoric.

Keywords: contrastive rhetoric, second language writing, good writing, Korean writers

A poignant statement of one second language speaker that Fox (1994) quotes in her book, Listening to the World: Cultural Issues in Academic Writing, is perplexing enough to make any college English teacher stop and think. “Learning to write in an American style,” her Chilean student asserts, “is much more than learning a new technique. It is a way this culture ‘normalizes’ you to the system, shaping on you new values and new ways of looking at the world.” She continues, “the writing style is not value free; it has ethical consequences, depending on if it is empowering or disempowering for you in this new culture or in your home culture” (p. 77). Certainly, enforcing a standard or norm can entail inadvertently demeaning the rhetorical styles and traditions that multilingual students may have previously acquired in their home countries. Discerning composition teachers, therefore, would be led to ask themselves if, by upholding the Anglo-American rhetorical styles as the norm and asking students to conform to that style, their classroom instruction promotes the western style as a superior or ‘right’ writing style, rather than an alternate mode. While trying to help their ESL (English as a second language) students to master the ‘alien’ rhetorical strategies necessary to produce effective English composition, instructors may feel as if they are proselytizing them to different modes of thinking that go against the students’ cultural norms. In this sense, a multilingual writing classroom could potentially become a place where differing epistemological values clash, and the blurring sense of identity is inadvertently initiated or perpetuated.

This type of fear partly stems from a polarized view on L1 vs. L2 cultural schema and acquired habits as academic writers. However, examining current composition instructional practices in the EFL context reveals that the Anglo-American rhetorical patterns, which we habitually surmise to be quite ‘alien’ to English language learners, seem to be becoming the promoted norms for a growing number of second language students.

Previous studies on intercultural rhetoric have frequently drawn from examples from Asian writers, especially those of Chinese and Japanese origin, but relatively little information has surfaced in scholarly literature regarding L2 writers from Korea, a country which, according to 2011 statistics compiled by the Institute of International Education, now ranks third in the number of students coming to the U.S., after India and China. To fill this gap, this article provides an overview of how academic writing is conceived and practiced in Korea. It highlights strong similarities in conceptualizations between Korean and Anglophone academic writing. In doing so, it seeks to demonstrate the importance of considering complex institutional, political, as well as individual factors that influence second language writers in their home culture in advancing the ongoing disciplinary dialogue on intercultural rhetoric.

This paper focuses on two questions: 1) how is ‘good writing’ defined in Korean academic discourse communities in general? And 2) what is the state of academic writing in Korea, particularly for high school students? In order to answer the first question, the author examined writing center resource materials at three different Korean universities that provide instruction for students writing academic papers for their Korean audience. Currently, more than a dozen Korean universities operate writing centers, but only three universities—Sogang, Hansung, and Wonkwang– were selected because publicly available materials that provide tips and instruction on writing were posted only on these three universities’ websites at the time of the investigation. Two additional texts focusing on academic writing for high school students were also examined to see if information from university writing center materials align with information targeting pre-university students. Two popular texts, Kim Yong Ok’s (2006) Nonsulgua cheolhakgangui I (A lecture on composition and philosophy I) and Kim and Yang’s (2014) Daeip nonsul jeonseok (A Manual for the College Entrance Writing Exam), were selected. Although they target similar audiences, their approaches are somewhat different. Kim (2006), a well-known national figure who has delivered dozens of lectures on writing on the national educational broadcasting network, approaches writing from a philosophical point of view, whereas Kim and Yang (2014) provides principles, tips, and instructions summarily.

To answer the second question, the author examined several articles written by Korean scholars on the state of writing instruction, which were published since 2000. These were accessed through Korean scholarly article databases. Interviews via emails and phone calls with two current high school Korean teachers have also informed the discussion to triangulate the findings. Due to limited data sources, it is not feasible for this paper to paint a comprehensive picture of academic writing in Korea. By providing a brief commentary on the current situation surrounding academic writing in Korea based on the available data, this paper aims to point to the need to reconsider some of the preconceived notions about Korean writing, hoping that further studies along the similar line in other contexts will follow.

Before proceeding to the study, a brief overview of intercultural rhetoric is provided, along with a review of current trends in the neighboring countries, China and Japan.

Contrastive Rhetoric and Voices from East Asia

Kaplan’s (1966) observation that L2 writers’ texts exhibited organization differences from those of L1 students’ writings had an intuitive appeal, and the idea was advanced by subsequent scholars (e.g., Connor, 1996; Li, 1996), who added support through further examples of textual variations in L2 writers’ texts. It was Fox (1994), among others, who argued that enforcing the Western writing style had ethical ramifications. Drawing from years of her overseas teaching experience, she passionately asserted:

the dominant communication style and world view of the U.S. university, variously known as ‘academic argument,’ analytical writing,’ ‘critical thinking,’ or just plain ‘good writing,’ is based on the assumptions and habits of mind that are derived from western–or more specifically, U.S.-culture, and that this way of thinking and communicating is considered sophisticated, intelligent, and efficient by only a tiny fraction of the world’s peoples. (p. xxi)

Other researchers made further observations, which seemed to align with Fox’s. For example, Hinds (1987) and Scollon and Scollon (1995) observed delayed introduction of purpose in the texts produced by East Asian writers. In the case of studies of Korean writing in particular, Eggington (1987) described traditional patterns of Korean writing as non-linear, consisting of beginning, development, change of direction, and ending. Hinds (1987) offered a binary based on reader vs. writer responsibility. According to Hinds, East Asian writing can be characterized as reader-responsible prose, as opposed to writer-responsible prose, in that the onus of comprehension falls on the reader, and obscure and esoteric styles of writing are often expected of scholarly writing. This is in contrast with Anglo-American writing, he asserted, because heavy emphasis is placed on writers to ensure that their discursive choices contribute to facilitating readers’ comprehension in Anglo-American writing.

While the disciplinary dialogue surrounding intercultural rhetoric has, to a large extent, focused on identifying different patterns in L2 writers’ texts, it has also prompted a heated debate on the notion of culture and cultural issues in relation to L2 writing (Abasi & Akbari, 2014). The traditional view of contrastive rhetoric, which considers culture as an integral element in producing and understanding texts (Connor, 2014), drew a number of critics, who denounced contrastive rhetoric for its reductionist and essentialist orientation (e.g., Kubota & Lehner, 2004; Leki 1992; Spack, 1997; Zamel, 1997). Atkins (2004) criticized the product-oriented approach of contrastive rhetoric and stated that “we need to focus our vision on the processes that produce the products, rather than looking solely at the products themselves” (p. 282). You (2004) also argued that making a direct link between rhetorical patterns and textual organization fails to recognize the complexity of any given rhetorical situation.

Although our understanding of culture as a complex intersection of multiple strata of values, practices, and situations continues to evolve, it is not unusual to encounter statements that reiterate the traditional typological views—even in relatively recent literature. Consider the following two examples about Japanese and Chinese writing:

In ‘danraku,’ unity is not as important as it is in paragraphs. Japanese writers can keep on writing as ideas come to mind because ‘danraku’ does not require a logical organization. (Kimura & Kondo, 2004, p. 11)

The tone of Chinese writing can be characterized as being reserved, while that of English writing is straightforward. This can be explained from a cultural perspective. From a Chinese reader’s point of view, being reserved is seen as humility, which a good writer should possess. When a Chinese tries to voice her or his own opinions, she or he is not expected to express opinions directly. Instead, it is necessary to keep distance from the readers with a soft tone. (Chen, 2006, p. 4)

It is tempting to assume, based on Fox’s perceptive comments and ensuing scholarly discussion, as well as the examples about Japanese’ danraku’ and the Chinese rhetorical style described above, that elements such as a lack of clear organization and directness characterize typical academic writing conventions in Asia. However, Zong and Li (1998) pointed out that the qualities upheld in Anglo-American writing are called for in most types of expository writing in China. In fact, they believe this is not a new, post-modern trend as they trace the root to Kui’s 1197 text The Rules of Writing, which is commonly considered the first classical work of Chinese rhetoric. Zong and Li summarize Kui’s rhetorical principles as clarity, straightforwardness, and use of common language. Kirkpatrick (2002), after reviewing the advice given in university textbooks on Chinese writing and the types of exercises students may encounter in their national university entrance exams, found that such textbooks instruct authors to use exact and clear language in argumentations. Kirkpatrick (2004) is convinced that “it is hard to conclude that Chinese learners will come to the task of writing in English disadvantaged by their previous learning experience” (p. 8). In a similar vein, Kubota and Shi (2005) reported that language arts textbooks commonly used in junior high schools in mainland China and Japan show identical principles being promoted in the West in persuasive writing. More recent evidence supporting such a trend can be found in Yang’s (2011) “Classroom Report,” which reports the findings of the analysis of book reviews written by Chinese college students that he and his team have conducted. He reports that “when we read their book reviews, we enjoyed their logical simple straight and tight structural organization. We seldom found things such as beating around the bush and redundant narrating in their piece” (p. 225). These reports suggest that qualities typically associated with Anglo-American writing approaches are fast becoming the perceived norms for many Asian students. According to You (2004):

It is quite apparent that English writing instruction and research in China are heavily influenced by ESL writing research in North America. Anglo-American approaches to writing instruction, such as process, task-based, and portfolio approaches, are being tested in English classrooms. Concepts in ESL writing, such as peer review, portfolio assessment, paradigm shift, and post-process, are also widely used in EFL writing research in China. (pp. 255-256)

These observations can find further support in the current practice and conceptualizations of academic writing in the neighboring country Korea, as discussed below.

Academic Writing in Korea

Korean Academics’ Conceptualizations of Good Writing

As writing has received an increased focus in Korea in recent years (Na, 2008; Noh, 2010), a number of universities revised and renamed general education courses typically named ‘대학국어’ (College Korean) as ‘글쓰기’ (Writing), and several universities have established writing centers to help their students in the process of completing their academic papers (Ahn, 2014). The writing center resources chosen for this study vary in their scope as different topics are covered. All these materials are written in Korean, and the excerpts presented in this paper were translated by the author, a native speaker of Korean. The discussion in this section focuses on general descriptions that each source provides on what makes good academic writing.

First of all, the Korean definition of ‘danlak,’ which is equivalent to the Japanese ‘danraku’ and English ‘paragraph,’ strongly echoes the concept of English ‘paragraph.’ The resource materials posted on Sogang University’s Writing Center website defines ‘danlak’ as follows:

A ‘danlak’ is a single unit comprising of several sentences that express one main idea. Therefore, it contains a complete meaning as an independent unit. At the same time, a ‘danlak’ also plays a part in the composition of the entire written discourse. In order for each ‘danlak’ to be meaningful, each sentence should be logically connected under a unified theme, and the content should be coherent. In addition, each ‘danlak’ should be organically connected to the others. (“Writing a Danlak,” par. 1)

Wonkwang University’s Communication Education Center resource material also encourages students to ensure that their paragraphs meet the following conditions (“#2, Editing a Paragraph”):

Is every paragraph logically development?
Does every paragraph follow the rules of unity and coherence?
Is there one topic sentence in each paragraph?
Is every paragraph indented?

Kim and Yang (2014) define ‘danlak’ as a group of sentences that explicate one specific topic and instruct readers that each ‘danlak’ should contain a subtopic, which the rest of the sentences support” (p. 173).

Sogang University’s writing center resource, in the section, “글쓰기 길잡이” (Guide to Writing), describes ‘good writing’ as “a writing that can be easily understood by readers.” It says,

Readers can easily understand writing when sentences are clear and concise, and it is well structured. . . In general, good writing should exhibit the following characteristics:

  1. Originality
  2. Clear arguments and sentences
  3. Clear supporting details
  4. Unity
  5. Appropriate style
  6. Use of correct grammar and appropriate vocabulary
  7. Conciseness (par. 1)

The emphasis on clarity and easiness of understanding contradicts the notion of reader-responsible prose, as suggested by Hinds (1987). In addition, a strong focus on effective organization and logical development of ideas challenges the notion of non-linearity of the Korean writing style (Eggington, 1987). To provide further evidence, in the section entitled, “사례별 길잡이” (Guide to Writing Various Genres), Sogang University’s Writing Center describes good analytical writing as exhibiting the following elements:

  1. The purpose and the focal point of the writing are clearly indicated and there is a clear thesis statement.
  2. A phenomenon or an issue of the subject is analyzed from various perspectives.
  3. Objective and concrete evidence are used to support the thesis.
  4. The writing has the basic structure of introduction, body and conclusion, and each paragraph is organically connected through the topic sentence in each paragraph. (par. 4)

In the section on writing effective introduction, it emphasizes the importance of providing the scope and purpose of the paper and advises students to place topic sentences in the beginning of the paragraph and to use paragraph breaks appropriately.

Similar emphases are made in the writing center resource from Hansung University as students are instructed to adhere to the following principles:

  1. Attend to logical development and paragraphing.
  2. Avoid emotionally charged expressions.
  3. Use terms consistently.
  4. Write clear sentences. (“How to Write a Persuasive Essay,” p. 3)

Hansung’s resource material on summary writing instructs students to make sure that their writing takes the following points into consideration:

  1. Have the main points been selected?
  2. Does the writing have effective paragraphing and clear sentences?
  3. Have original sentences been paraphrased?
  4. Have personal opinions been excluded? (“How to Write a Summary, p. 3)

Its section on explication essay also emphasizes audience awareness, objectivity, and easiness to understand as important criteria of good writing as illustrated below:

  1. The writing should be appropriate for your readers’ needs.
  2. The writing should be organized in a logical order.
  3. Personal opinions or feelings should be excluded as much as possible.
  4. The content should be delivered in a way that is easy to understand.
  5. Sentences should be brief and easy to understand. (“How to Write an Explication Essay, p. 2)

The information provided on the website of Wonkwang University’s Communication Education Center, which performs similar functions to the writing centers at Sogang and Hansung, closely aligns with the tips and instructions given in the other two writing center resources. We can infer from the following instructions on editing and revision how good writing is defined. It states,

When editing your paper, examine if the thesis is clearly identifiable and see if all paragraphs are unified, and there is logical connection between paragraphs. The most important aspect is that the writing meets the needs of your reader and suites the purpose of the paper. (par. 1, 2)

Kim (2006), in his advice for high school students, also emphasizes clarity and conciseness as the most important elements (p. 207). He advises his readers to place understandability as a priority. He states,

The purpose of writing is to be understood. My writing should be clearly understood by myself first, and it should clearly convey my way of understanding to readers. My instruction on good sentence writing can only be summarized as increasing understandability. A writing that cannot be understood does not qualify as writing. . . if it is not understood, it has no value at all. (p. 208)

He elaborates on 15 areas that writers should attend to in order to ensure successful academic writing. His emphasis on audience awareness, using precise vocabulary, brainstorming, avoiding nominal construction (nominalization), using effective sentence connectors, and eliminating redundancy, among others, closely align with the principles that are typically promoted in Anglo-American writing.

Kim and Yang (2014) also emphasize the importance of having a clear structure, logical development, clearly defined problems in the introduction, providing sufficient details, and directly stating the position on the issue, all of which are the same qualities promoted in Anglo-American writing. They further state that the writing should have a clear organization and unity including introduction, body, and conclusion, and that it is important to maintain an objective stance. Their ‘rules’ on proper sentences, such as avoiding lengthy sentences, passive voice, and double negatives also echo stereotypical instructions given to American students.

Some may argue that these guidelines reflect the western influence as the Korean academic community has recently begun adopting the Anglo-American norms with its increased focus on writing. However, these standards do not necessarily seem to be new information that became available in this era. For instance, in “Principles and Methods of Essay,” written by Kim Bong Kyun in 1985, before the rise of interest in writing instruction in Korea, we find evidence that challenges this notion as he defines argumentative writing as follows: “Argumentation is a form of communicative tool, in which opinions are logically presented. Since argumentation is subject to reason, it does not allow feelings and emotions. … argumentation, based on reason and rationality, and scientific rationalism, values evidence” (p. 455).

Kim (2006) also states that the notion of logical arguments is not a Western construct:

The primary and commonsensical definition of rhetoric is probably ‘making logical arguments.’ Being logical does not necessarily mean following the Western method of logic. Anyone who has common sense automatically follows a logical line of reasoning. Rhetoric merely makes people aware of such principles and illustrates them so people can easily follow them. . . .The ultimate goal of rhetoric is to function as an educational system whose purpose is to eliminate the authority and pressure emanating from all ideologies, remove violence, and increase logical communication in our society. (pp. 15-16)

Kim (2006) wants his readers to recognize that making logical arguments entails following a universal and commonsensical line of reasoning, and not necessarily a Western way of reasoning. He challenges us to rethink the tacitly agreed triad—the center equals Anglo-American style, which in turn equals the home ground for logical thinking. Discussing the issue of ‘ownership’ of academic writing as well as the ethical ramifications of the ‘influence’ is beyond the scope of this paper. Nevertheless, it seems reasonable to say that although the current system we call academic writing may be a byproduct of the Enlightenment movement that originated in the West, academic writing in general upholds similar standards.

The State of Academic Writing for Pre-university Students

While the description of ‘good writing’ presented above may lead us to assume that there exists a unified front of writing instruction in Korea, policies and practices concerning writing have been extremely fluid as the Korean academic community continues to test its utility as a tool to promote literacy and to demonstrate critical thinking. While writing instruction was not formally institutionalized in Korea until late twentieth century, writing has become an educational ‘issue’ ever since the Ministry of Education allowed universities to administer writing tests as one of the acceptance criteria in 1986.

As writing became a required component at some of the most prestigious universities, two strands of writing instruction have developed in high schools: one that focuses on basic writing skills provided at school, and the other that focuses on college entrance exam preparation mostly through private institutes (so-called hagwon). Kim (2008) notes that a plethora of materials authored by Korean scholars on the topic of writing have surfaced in the past couple of decades, promoting genre- and process-based approaches, and in the 1990s, writing began to be taught in conjunction with reading and discussion with a focus on disciplinary discourses. Questions used in French Baccalaureate essay tests were widely used as examples, and materials from the West were also introduced (e.g., Linda Flower’s Problem-Solving Strategies for Writing & Jürgen Habermas’ The Theory of Communicative Action). Currently, writing is taught as a subject in high school through Speech and Writing I and II, although many teachers adopt resource materials designed for college essay exam preparation (Kim, 2008). The goals of these subjects reflect a functionalist perspective, as they focus on teaching “how to adapt their discourse to the purpose and audience: learn processes and strategies of effective communication according to the communicative purpose and situation; to effectively communicate in a given situation based on core principles; to consider writing traditions of discourse communities; to use convincing evidence; and to demonstrate knowledge by experimenting with various forms” (cited in Seo, 2012, p. 333).

Looking at the ways in which writing tests are constructed by colleges also provides a glimpse into the shifting practices and emerging conceptualizations concerning academic writing. For college admission, in the 1990s, students were tested on the ability to analyze classical literary works, but a wide variety of texts from politics, economics, art, science, and philosophy began to replace literary texts in the 2000s; currently students are asked to demonstrate interdisciplinary knowledge and complex academic writing skills through summary, data interpretation, making inferences, and critical evaluations, as well as argumentation (Kim, 2008). The following writing exam questions, which were used in Sungkyunkwan University’s college entrance exam in 2013 (taken from Lee, 2014) show the interdisciplinary nature of these exams:

  1. The following excerpts (1-5) support different social values. Divide these texts into two positions and summarize each position.

    Topics of excerpts: 1) competition, 2) the vicious cycle of poverty, 3) market price decision, 4) protectionism in developing countries, 5) problems related to greenhouse gas emission

  2. Explain the data presented in Table 1. And then, defend one of the positions discussed in Question #1 based on the data.
  3. Earned income tax credit is designed to provide a refundable tax credit for low income families to increase their motivation and provide them with necessary resources for living. Explain in detail the earned income tax credit as illustrated in Table 2, and then discuss the features of this system in terms of the two positions in #1.
  4. Take a position on the policy described below concerning granting college admission to social minorities and then justify your position. (pp. 56-57)

The assessment rubric posted by Ewha Woman’s University on its 2006 essay test includes items such as “consistent logic, clarity and persuasiveness of argument, appropriate evidence to support the position, depth and intensity of thought” (Kim, 2008, p. 28).

It should be noted, however, that writing is not a required test for every student, and it is being used by mostly prestigious universities for early decision. Several Korean scholars have expressed concerns that the current interdisciplinary orientation of college entrance writing exams can be a demotivating factor for students as they are asked to demonstrate a complex set of writing skills as well as mastery in various subjects (e.g., Lee, 2013; Lee, 2014). Concerns have been raised that since writing is used as a means to select outstanding students by universities, writing is being perceived as an aspiration too high, or unnecessary, to pursue for the majority of students. Also, the pressure from college entrance exams forces teachers to use the class time for test preparation, rather than teaching them basic writing skills (Choi, 2011). One of the interviewees said, “Students learn all the basic concepts of composition and characteristics of good writing, but they don’t have adequate writing practice in class.” Another interviewee commented, “Writing classes are sabotaged by concerns for college entrance exams, and I usually spend most of the class time going over exam questions from test preparation materials.”

The Ministry of Education has recently announced its plan to strengthen writing instruction in high school and discourage colleges from requiring writing as a college entrance criterion (Yoo, 2014). As the nation is involved in seeking solutions to various academic and social problems that surface with new policies and exams, Korean scholars and educators are engaged in vibrant disciplinary dialogues as to how to improve the current status of writing education and achieve a healthy balance between the demands of colleges exam preparation and the need to equip their students with essential writing skills. In the meantime, educators continue to examine theories and frameworks from the West and the East, creatively adopting what is relevant to their particular situations at the present time.

Conclusion

This paper is limited in its scope in that it draws mainly from small cultures (Holliday, 1999), reflected in the guidelines in resource materials, and does not involve analyses of actual writing samples. In addition, it does not consider other complex issues surrounding Korean academic writing, which arise from the gap between the ideal and reality, such as its traditional focus on grammar and genre-based approaches and lack of qualified writing experts (Noh, 2010). A further limitation is that this paper focuses on fairly broad conceptualizations of ‘good’ academic writing. Previous scholars have shown that different disciplines exhibit some distinct ways of constructing, and conveying knowledge in disciplinary discourse is multidimensional as it is far from being uniform (e.g., Fløttum, Dahl, & Kinn, 2006; Hyland, 2004; Petraglia, 1995; Swales, 2004; Thaiss & Zawacki, 2006). Without a doubt, discussing good writing in a generalized sense masks variations that may exist within various strata of academic disciplines. Examining those variations, as well as challenges Korean academics face as they institute writing as a discipline, would be a valuable study as it would further enrich our understanding of the dynamic landscape of the state of Korean academic writing.

Despite these limitations, one implication we can draw from the observations made in this brief survey is that considering nonnative speakers as academic ‘strangers,’ who bring different sets of expectations and norms to academic writing tasks, may be overly simplified as well as misguided. Also, stereotypical notions of non-linearity and reader-response prose, which were introduced during the heyday of contrastive rhetoric by researchers of Asian writing, now seem to be losing ground as the writing instruction clearly emphasizes the same features including a linear structure and audience awareness, as those emphasized in the West. There could be certain identifiable qualities in the writings of second language students, which are in conflict with the Western writing style. However, current trends seem to show that academic writing conventions, both in “the center and periphery” (Canagarajah, 2002), adhere to borderless characteristics that ensure “logical communication in our society,” as Kim (2006) put it.

The volatile landscape of academic writing in Korea also highlights the fact that non-Anglophone academic communities develop and refine their approaches, theories, models, and practices to fit their own particular situations, which is an important dimension that needs to be included in disciplinary discussions on intercultural rhetoric. The case of Korea illustrates this point, as students learn that institutions and disciplines have their own ways of utilizing and conceiving writing as an academic tool; some college entrance writing exams ask students to logically explicate various mathematical formulas, instead of writing traditional persuasive essays. These students become aware of the hybrid nature of academic writing in their country as they try to adjust to shifting expectations and standards of their own academic institutions. Without understanding the many complex institutional, political, as well as individual factors that influence the second language writers in their home culture, trying to identify culture-dependent formats and structures through textual samples would be like firing at a moving target.

This study, however, does not suggest that the so-called ‘deviant’ features of writing which are typically assumed to be characteristic of the indirect styles of the East would no longer appear in Asian students’ writing as a result of these new trends. Features such as digression and indirect style, as well as other ‘deviant’ elements, may still be overlooked or condoned in the students’ first language writing instruction, which, unfortunately, is still inadequately provided in the case of Korea. Furthermore, the examples considered in this article do not speak for all second language writers in various communities where English is used as a second or a foreign language. By presenting the conceptualization and the protean vista of Korean academic writing, the paper sought to make visible a gap that may exist in our understanding of what second language writers bring to our classrooms. Similar studies that bring to light shifting trends in other countries are needed to help better understand unique challenges as well as knowledge and experience which various groups of second language writers bring to academic writing.

About the Author

Eun-Young Julia Kim is an Associate Professor of English at Andrews University, USA. She has worked with English language learners for over a decade both in the US and Korea and currently directs the English graduate program at Andrews University. Her research interests include sociolinguistics and second language writing.

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