Writing groups support successful academic writing for students and scholars whose first language is not English. They also support international students whose first language is English but whose educational culture is not North American.
What happens in a writing group?
Small groups (4-6 writers) meet for a hour every week with an English Language Specialist who facilitates the group. Groups may be disciplinary or inter-disciplinary. 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 teaches writing techniques, strategies, and grammar points where appropriate
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.
Who can join a writing group?
- UNC students and scholars who speak English as a second language, including graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and visiting scholars working on any kind of writing–course papers, dissertation chapters, article manuscripts, reading reflections, job docs, conference posters–any kind of writing!
- Spouses, non-academic staff, and community members are not eligible to participate in writing groups.
When can I join a writing group?
- Anytime! Join at the beginning of any semester you’re here at UNC. There’s no limit on the number of semesters you can participate in writing groups. Some students participate in writing groups from their first semester of course work until they defend their dissertations. Some join for a while, take a break, and then rejoin in a subsequent semester.
- Some groups work together for several semesters or even years! Groups are scheduled every semester according to the participants’ availability.
How do I join a writing group?
- Registration for Spring Writing Groups will open early-December.
- Spring Writing Groups will begin meeting in January, 2021.
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.”
Other Writing Support
- Full-time degree-seeking UNC students can take advantage of the Writing Center’s individual coaching appointments.
- 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.