Online Support Program for Academic Writing in Japanese: A Report

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  • オンラインでの日本語アカデミックライティング支援 : 運営・指導の方法とその成果・課題
  • オンライン デ ノ ニホンゴ アカデミックライティング シエン : ウンエイ ・ シドウ ノ ホウホウ ト ソノ セイカ ・ カダイ

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The paper presents a report on an online support program for international students who write academic papers in the Japanese language. The Center for International Education at Kobe University has coordinated the program called the Japanese Academic Writing Lab for International Students. It has formed part of the “International Exchange Promotion at Hyogo International House,” which is another project commissioned by the Japan Student Services Organization. It had offered face-to-face tutorial out of campus since 2017. However, entire activities of the program has been conducted online for the first time in 2020 due activity restrictions in/out of campus as a result of COVID-19.The paper reports the outline of the program, including method of tutorial, and its result. Several aspects of the program were changed to implement it online, such as storing all documentation materials in a cloud and sharing them between tutors and writers via Zoom, a videotelephony system. In the process of adopting the online environment, policies as a writing center and its communicative methods were maintained to facilitate communication between tutors and writers and improve the writers’ proficiency in writing. Data on utilization and feedback from tutors and writers indicated the following benefits of implementing the program online: (1) ease of use and increase in the number of users compared to those reported in previous years for the same period, (2) ease of instruction through comments on electronic files, and (3) tutors’ adaptation to online tutorial despite less experience with online educational activities. Conversely, the challenges identified were (1) tutors’ difficulty in communicating with writers during sessions as a result of less nonverbal information and less opportunities for writers’ self-explanation due to the one-way mode of commenting and (2) lack of communication among tutors, especially among those with different schedules. The following suggestions are considered necessary to resolve these challenges: providing more opportunities (1) for writers to explain their ideas by utilizing a two-way mode of commenting on documents in the cloud and (2) for tutors to comprehensively discuss sessions and to improve their mode of instruction.

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