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WRITING 120

College Writing for International Students

Credits: 3 May be elected twice for credit

Writing 120 is intended for all students who feel most comfortable with academic writing in a language other than English. This course is designed to help students develop their general and academic writing abilities in English. Students will develop written fluency and improve command over grammatical and rhetorical conventions common in a variety of academic disciplines with the aim of developing a rhetorical perspective on multilingualism as it relates to academic writing. To that end, students will:

  • develop critical reading strategies and draw upon models of successful writing that will inform their own writing;
  • revise their papers both individually and collaboratively for content, organization, and argumentation;
  • edit their papers for language clarity and appropriate format;
  • research in the university's library databases, evaluate source credibility, and use appropriate documentation styles in research papers;
  • develop insights into their strengths and weaknesses as writers through reflective writing and the creation of an electronic writing portfolio;
  • define their goals as writers that may inform their literacy practices beyond the course and build their confidence to meet writing challenges at the college level

Course Requirements

  • Writing essays in a variety of genres and media, including low-stakes writing assignments
  • Revision of all major writing assignments
  • Peer review and writing workshops
  • An electronic portfolio that fosters self-reflection and demonstrates progress in writing
  • Regular one-to-one meetings with instructor
  • Regular class attendance and engagement 

Intended Audience

International and multilingual undergraduate students.

Class Format

The class meets 90 minutes twice a week in a seminar style with a mixture of small group and full class discussions, peer reviews, writing workshops, and occasional and briefinstruction.

Writing 120 Student Experiences

"I found Writing 120 very helpful because it helped me learn about academic writing. Taking Writing 120 is one of the best choices that I have made after entering the university.

Before taking this class, I always considered writing in English as one of the most annoying things. Whenever I needed to finish a writing assignment, my inner feelings of weakness and helplessness came up incessantly. I couldn’t help thinking about the grammar mistakes I would make. I couldn’t even help thinking that I might have misunderstood the topic. The Writing 120 class was just like a quick acting drug that relieved my stress of writing effectively. Following, I list some improvements that I made by taking this wonderful class.

First of all, I learned how to write diverse types of academic papers in Writing 120. For example, now if my professor asks me to write a research paper, I won’t feel panic or confusion about how to write an introduction or what is an implication. Secondly, the number of grammar mistakes I make has been continuously decreasing. In my DSP essay, I made roughly 8-10 grammar errors per 200 words. Surprisingly, in my third assignment in Writing 120, there were about 2-3 grammar mistakes per 200 words. Last but not least, I have built my confidence in English academic writing, which will help me a lot for my future upper level writing.

Honestly, this writing experience has encouraged me to continue my path of writing. And I genuinely believe what I learned from this course would be beneficial for my entire university life."

-- Chen Yutong

"I took Writing 120 in fall 2013 during my first semester at the University of Michigan. Writing 120 is a course especially designed to prepare international students for more advanced Writing courses. Now, I feel so lucky that I did not miss the course since Writing 120 is one of the best courses I have taken at the University of Michigan.

First of all, the course exposed me to some fundamental rules and basic writing knowledge. For example, it was in this course that I first heard and learned about MLA format; logical fallacies; and the difference between argument, evidence and example. Later, when my classmates used those terms in my first year writing class, I could confidently join their discussion without feeling like a blind person.

What is more, the course guided me to the correct way of using certain words and phrases, which helped to make my papers more native.

Last but not least, I liked the course because my instructor Lori really cares about the progress of each student. When I got Lori’s feedback on my first paper, I was deeply moved because her comments were so detailed. And she pointed out the mistakes as tiny as the misuse of punctuation.

Generally speaking, Writing 120 is indeed an excellent course. If you want to have a gradual and smooth transition to academic English writing, you should definitely take the course!"

-- Xiaohe Yu