Transition to American Academic English

The Asian Student in an American College

Every student who tries to take college courses in a second language will face enormous challenges. Here are a few suggestions which might help.

Translation shortcuts that do not work

Giving proper honor to authors

In the USA and Europe, we have a very strong feeling that an author owns the words he or she has written. American colleges also encourage students to critique the material they read and to put ideas together in new ways.

In the USA, if you simply quote the words of an author and put your name on the paper, we will not see it as a form of honor or respect; we would call it plagiarism. Assembling a paper with quotations from different sources is no better.

To us, simply quoting an authority without giving due credit is seen as dishonesty, laziness, and theft. We place a very high value on a student thinking his/her own thoughts and using authorities to give depth to the discussion.

An essay which is simply a string of quotations (with proper credit to the original author) is still not an academic paper. Most instructors would say, "If I wanted to see all those quotations, I could have done the work myself; I want to see how the student is thinking."

A grammar discussion from another website¹

These aspects of English grammar are significantly different from Chinese, and can cause confusion.

¹Wickham, Ruth. "Teaching English to Chinese Speakers: 9 Major Differences to Be Aware Of." FluentU English Educator, 13 Aug. 2016, Accessed 17 Dec. 2018.

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Revised 1/2/19 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: