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Issues in Applied Linguistics

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Writing Concepts in Chinese Writing Instruction


Since Kaplan hypothesized English writing as direct and Oriental writing as circular in 1966, much research has been done in contrastive rhetoric. However, few studies have compared English writing and Asian writing in its original text or compared rhetoric across cultures. In addition, what causes Asian students to write differently from English speakers remains an arguable issue. In response to this debate, the researcher focuses on how Chinese writing instruction can cause negative interference for Chinese ESL students' writing in English. One representative work in Chinese literary criticism and four texts in Chinese rhetoric are analyzed to determine how Chinese and English writing utilize different rhetorical forms even though they may share some common elements.

Specifically, this study shows that in Chinese writing the main idea can be more general, as a theme, or specific, as a thesis statement, and can come at the beginning or the end of a paper, although the end is preferred by most accomplished writers. In addition, a Chinese writer is expected to build the overall organization on word and sentence level structures and to use various indirect techniques to arouse the reader's interest in the aesthetics of a piece of writing. The writer does not have to state everything explicitly. Rather, the reader needs to share the writer's responsibility in creating a text by incorporating his or her own interpretation into the writing in Chinese rhetoric.

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