One-on-one tutoring in an EFL environment: meeting the academic writing needs of Chinese tertiary students

There exists an enormous demand for English language instruction in the PRC, and tertiary-level academic writing instruction is one facet that is often underserved. This study undertook to explore this need. First, at one university in the PRC the researcher engaged in observations of EFL writing classrooms, witnessing the affordances and constraints therein. Second, at two universities the researcher engaged in one-on-one tutoring with tertiary-level ELLs for their English academic writing skills. Such tutoring had the objective of gauging its reception in this EFL environment as well as measuring any potential improvements in students’ writing. This study found that EFL writing classrooms, while providing many positive affordances for students, contain limitations which effectively deny ELLs sufficient input and feedback on their individual EFL writing. Additionally, this study found that one-on-one tutoring, in addressing this paucity, is both well received by students and can result in measureable improvements to their EFL academic writing. This study concludes with the recommendation that an EFL writing center be established at a select PRC university in order to broaden the possibilities of tutoring university students in the EFL writing skills and test for its potentially wider application.