There are many reasons as to why students of ESL (English as a Second Language) students and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) find it difficult to write expository essays. This paper reflects such difficulty in writing by three groups of learners from a pool of matriculated Singaporeans and PRC students. The first group of students are Singaporean students who emerge from an English-speaking background. This means that these students communicate primarily in English since childhood. The second group of students are also Singaporean, but emerge from a Chinese-speaking background. They can be considered to be of ESL background because Mandarin is their predominant language despite having learnt English since childhood. The third group consist of PRC students, who are considered EFL because they interact purely in Mandarin in all social situations except in the classroom condition. Although all three groups of students have had vast amounts of practice in writing expositions at tertiary level, many of them do not attempt expository writing before entering junior college. In fact, secondary schools and junior colleges differ in their focus in the provision of English Language teaching to students. The former provide training in English at a fundamental level, whereby several main genres of writing are presented: narrative, descriptive, expository essays, reports and accounts. Unfortunately, teachers often emphasise narrative and descriptive essays at secondary school level, preferring them to the teaching of expository or argumentative essays and perceiving these genres as being “too difficult” for the students to handle under exam conditions. The Singaporean students are not the only ones who face this problem of coping with expository writing at tertiary level. The author’s experience of teaching PRC tertiary students leads her to the conclusion that these students are often liable to write emotionally charged essays with a narrative generic structure, whenever exposition is required of them. Furthermore, it must be noted that PRC students have little or no experience in writing expository essays, unlike Singaporean students. According to feedback received from PRC students, most of their English assignments included the writing of announcements, letters and advertisements. It is therefore, hardly surprising that numerous PRC students produce “expositions” which are emotionally charged and manifest a high level of interaction with the reader, by personalising their essays with dialogue. The research questions are:
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Essay Tips: How to Write an Expository Essay
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