Prewriting, writing and rewriting: Everything you need to know about the Academic Writing CenterThu, Oct 17, 2019
“We want writers to feel like they’re having a casual conversation in a cafe,” says Kohei Tabei, a tutor at the Academic Writing Center on the main campus.
Writing is a key component of Waseda University’s education. The University offers writing support through its Academic Writing Program, which is “one of five education areas offered by Global Education Center.” Others areas include Mathematics, Statistics, Information Science, and English. The Academic Writing Program comprises Academic Composition courses for undergraduates and Academic Writing Centers for all students and faculty members. Since the inception of the first writing center at the School of International Liberal Studies (SILS) in 2004, which was then one of the newest writing centers in Japan, the number has grown and there are now three branches of Academic Writing Center to support writers through every step of the writing process.
Academic Writing Centers are available to all students and faculty members during weekdays on Waseda, Nishiwaseda, and Tokorozawa Campus. Writers can make reservations online or choose to walk in without one. They also have the choice of doing their discussion in English, Japanese, or Chinese with each session lasting for around 45 minutes. In addition to about 30 M.A. and Ph.D. Waseda students who have undergone specialized training to become tutors, 10 research associates and four professors also formed part of the tutoring team of the Academic Writing Program.
The Academic Writing Centers can especially benefit international students. Waseda University has the largest number of international students among all Japanese universities, which means students speak and write in many languages. If English is not the student’s native or primary language, classes that are taught in English can be challenging to them. The same applies to non-native Japanese students taking classes in Japanese. However, because each session at the writing centers can be done in English, Japanese, or Chinese, students have the liberty to choose one of these languages which they feel most comfortable with to discuss their papers. As there are many multilingual tutors, they are able to assist students in an English assignment using Japanese, or vice-versa, at each student’s choice. The support that tutors provide can help students gain confidence as they write in languages in which they feel less comfortable writing. Diversity is important to the university, and the writing centers are no exception.
From term papers and dissertations to application essays for studying abroad, these tutors provide a broad range of writing consultation and services. Although tutors may not have the expertise in the writers’ fields, writing is interdisciplinary. Therefore, whether it be brainstorming, writing an outline, or polishing the final draft, writers from any field can benefit from the tutors’ support. However, instead of spoon-feeding writers, tutors provide suggestions, help writers reflect on their writing and identify points of improvements. “The Waseda University Writing Center encourages the development of the autonomy of writers and to not merely provide correction,” says Program Director Saori Sadoshima. The philosophy is to encourage writers to embrace the writing process and their progress over perfection. Visiting the Writing Centers can help writers organize their thoughts and write clearly and intentionally by collaborating with tutors. “Writing may feel like a lonely process, but it doesn’t need to be,” adds tutor Diletta Fabiani.
At Waseda, the Academic Writing Centers help engage writers at every stage of the writing process. They are accessible to all students and faculty members during the week across three of its campuses. Although they cover a wide range of writing services through collaboration, they also encourage writers to be independent by reflecting on their own work and being aware of each step of their writing process. The work is about process and progress, not perfection, Tabei and Fabiani say. They also reassure that writers need not feel worried about showing their work to the tutors. “We won’t grade you.”
For details about the writing centers and the Academic Writing Program, visit: https://www.waseda.jp/inst/aw/en/program
*This article was written and contributed by the following student.
Marina Yoshimura (4th Year Student)
School of International Liberal Studies