The Influence of Previous Education on College Freshmen’s English Descriptive Writing in Taiwan

| September 3, 2014


The Influence of Previous Education on College Freshmen’s English Descriptive Writing in Taiwan

Keywords: genre analysis, college writing, descriptive writing, case study


Yi-Huey Guo
Tunghai University,
Taichung, Taiwan

Yi-Huey Guo is an assistant professor of Foreign Languages & Literature Department at Tunghai University, Taiwan. She received her Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. She specializes in writing and rhetoric studies and her main research interests are in the area of English for specific purposes and qualitative research inquiry.


This study examines the influence of previous education on Taiwanese college freshmen’s English descriptive writing as description appears to be a neglected essay genre by many college writing instructors and researchers. The purpose is to help college writing instructors work on genre practices meeting their students’ needs through knowing how they are affected intellectually and academically by previously-engaged educational systems, policies, and pedagogical constructs. Qualitative data were collected and analyzed using interviews with and writing samples by nineteen college freshmen of one English composition class at a private university in Taiwan. Etienne Wenger’s concept of participation-reification in Community of Practices and H. C. Brashers’s features of descriptive style were employed as theoretical frameworks. The results show the great textual influence of previous education on the participants’ descriptive writing practice, implying that the reification prevailed over participation in their high school English writing practices. The highlight of English narrative writing in Taiwan’s college entrance exams has substantiated a clear form of reification to affect its high school English teachers’ writing curriculum and instruction. The influence was divided into the features of pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and organization for in-depth discussion. The article concludes the significance of teaching descriptive writing to college students as a specific genre and the fundamental role of description in their practice of other writing. 

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