What happens in an ESL writing group?

An ESL writing group consists of 4-6 writers in a similar academic discipline. Groups meet for a hour every week or two with an ESL-trained group facilitator from the Writing Center who will help the group members work together to improve their writing and language skills. Each week:

  • one or more members share a draft of something they are writing
  • they ask group members for feedback (e.g. are my ideas clear? is the paper well organized? what confused you? is this the right word/phrase? do you see any errors?);
  • group members ask questions, respond to the text, make suggestions for clarification or revision
  • the facilitator might teach a new technique, strategy, or grammar point;

Please note: The facilitator’s role is not to teach a writing “class” but to guide the group toward productive discussions about their writing. Ideally, writing groups become high-functioning and autonomous over time.

What do students think?

“From my own experience I think writing group is the most valuable resource available to international students on UNC campus. My writing group has been a great help in completing both my proposal and the dissertation itself within two years. In addition, our group also functions a support group for us as ABDs so it provided extra benefit!”

“It helps a lot to get an external view on my work; it allows to check if what I write can be understood even by someone who doesn’t have a background in my discipline. What I especially enjoy (but too rarely get) is feedback about specific formulations that can be improved, style, syntax, etc. I love to ‘dissect’ a text and improve it sentence for sentence!”

“Please continue organizing the writing groups. It has been really helpful and motivational for me. Thank you very much for providing us this great opportunity.”

Who can join a writing group?

  • Priority registration: UNC students and scholars who speak English as a second language, including undergraduate, graduate, and exchange students who are working on substantial writing tasks.
  • Waiting list: Postdoctoral scholars, visiting scholars, and research faculty, subject to availibilty. If you have any questions about your eligibility, please contact us.

Spouses, non-academic staff, and community members, are not eligible to participate in writing groups.

How do I join a writing group?

In one of two ways:

  • The easiest way: If you can form your own writing group of 4-6 members with similar academic interests, you can agree on two or three options for a meeting time, then contact us. We will work with you on scheduling and happily facilitate your group.
  • The other way: Writing group registration using this form. You will receive a message requesting your schedule shortly thereafter.

Other Writing Support

  • Most full-time degree-seeking UNC students and faculty can take advantage of the Writing Center’s individual tutoring.
  • If you are a spouse of a UNC student/scholar/employee, a student at another university, a U.S.-resident native speaker of English, or a community member, please see Writing Center’s guide to Writing Groups for advice on starting your own Writing Group.