Academic Writing & International Students

Instructors may see ambiguous phrasing and unfamiliar structures in the writing of international students, because English academic writing has a unique set of conventions. For example, topic sentences and thesis statements may not be used in a student’s first language, and digression is less valued in English academic writing than it is in several other languages. International students may attempt to transfer their own language conventions to writing in English, while their knowledge and practice of English writing conventions continues to develop.

This session identifies common patterns in international students’ writing, and several effective strategies to develop their written communication skills.

Acculturation & Strategies for International Students

Academic Writing & International Students is part of a series of five interactive workshops about supporting international students. These sessions offer research-based intercultural teaching strategies, as well as guidance and support for challenges of sociocultural adaptation and language competency.

The sessions are presented by Academic Learning Services in The Studio for Teaching & Learning, and are designed and delivered by Muhammad Elhabibi, an Academic Learning Specialist who facilitates the language learning process for international students at SMU. Mr. Elhabibi has 35 years of teaching experience in multiple countries and learning contexts, including three Canadian universities. The series was originally designed for instructors, but may also be of interest to Saint Mary’s University staff who work closely with international students.

To request one or more workshops in this series, email

  1. International Students & Academic Acculturation

  2. Conversation Skills & International Students

  3. Academic Writing & International Students

  4. Emotional Attunement & International Students

  5. Cross Cultural Challenges in the Classroom