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Volume 3 Number 1, Spring 2006, Pages 1-175   

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A Developmental Perspective on Academic Writing Instruction for Japanese EFL Students

    Taeko Kamimura / Kyoko Oi

Several past studies have pointed out that Japanese EFL students are not skilled in producing argumentative essays in English, a mode of discourse most often required in academic contexts. The present paper reports on a study conducted to explore the effects of a-year-long writing instruction method that was designed to facilitate Japanese college EFL students in making a successful transition from the "knowledge-telling" model to the "knowledge-transforming" model of writing (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1987). It was found that the instruction method led the students to produce essays with both macro- and micro-level rhetorical and linguistic features that are considered to be characteristic of formal academic discourse. Specifically, after given the instruction, the students produced essays of better quality with clearer organization, logical consistency, and objective support. They also used more enumerators and logical connectors, and employed, as grammatical subjects, more third-person pronouns and inanimate nouns. It was also found that at least a year is required to ensure such improvements in the students' academic writing. The paper exhibits a sample analysis of students' actual essays and also provides examples of teaching materials used.