Promoting Interdisciplinary Writing at a Hong Kong University
Writing across the curriculum (WAC) programs aim to improve the English proficiency and thinking skills of students by encouraging teachers of all disciplines to give writing assignments more often and more thoughtfully in their courses. WAC is especially relevant for Hong Kong because students are unable to take elective writing courses because of the tight 3-year degree plans. This paper describes the implementation of a WAC program at a bilingual university in Hong Kong. While based on the models offered at American universities, the program in Hong Kong (probably the first in Asia) was adapted to suit the needs of teachers and students who are mainly nonnative speakers of English functioning in an English as a foreign language (EFL) context. Convincing faculty members to incorporate more writing in their courses, in an environment that encourages rote learning, was the main challenge. The adaptations included the affiliation of teaching assistants trained in applied linguistics to WAC courses across the disciplines and the extension of the program to graduate courses. The program has benefited more than 5,000 students enrolled in 90 courses across the disciplines, and created a community of interdisciplinary scholars committed to the improvement of teaching and learning.
Keywords: Writing, Interdisciplinary, University, Hong Kong
Prof. George Braine
English Department, The Chinese University of Hong Kong