Editing for Writers of
English as a Second Language
presented by
Judith M. Davis, Director
Writing Technology Laboratory
24 March 2003
Understand how L1 knowledge may
affect L2 usage
organization
plagiarism
word use/idioms
grammar, style, and mechanics
Organization
(adapted from Robert B. Kaplan, “Cultural Thought Patterns
in Intercultural Education,” Language Learning 16:15)
English
Semitic
Oriental
Romance
Russian
Organization
Recognize American English discourse
style
Review terms like thesis, topic
sentence, paragraph
Use outlining to plan and organize
Plagiarism
Understand that “plagiarism” and “intellectual
property” are culturally bound ideas
Understand expectations for American
academic prose and requirements for
documentation
Acceptable paraphrase must change both syntax
and word choice
All words and ideas that are not common
knowledge must be documented
Visit Research and Documentation Online:
http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc
Word Use/Idioms
Understand that many English expressions
are idiomatic
Use an English dictionary for phrasal verb
complements
Use an ESL dictionary use for expanded
definitions and usage tips
Visit http://dictionary.cambridge.org/ for
links to many dictionaries, including ESL
references
Grammar, Style, and Mechanics
Identify the causes of error:
competence (need to learn the rule)
• basic grammar knowledge
• language acquisition
performance (need to apply the rule)
• lack of editing awareness/skill
• cognitive “stretch”
• L1L2 interference
• misapplication of rules
Use “3-Step” Editing
Read aloud
Read for “trouble”
Read backwards
Grammar, Style, and Mechanics
Anticipate typical ESL “troublespots”:
verbs
• agreement
• tense
• modal + base verbs
• gerunds vs. infinitives
articles
• count vs. non-count nouns
• definite vs. indefinite uses
Grammar, Style, and Mechanics
Anticipate typical ESL “troublespots”:
modifiers
• adjectives vs. nouns
• adverb placement
• participles as adjectives (e.g., confused vs.
confusing)
prepositions
• time and place
• phrasal verb complements
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Working with Writers of English as a Second Language