French Writing Center

The goal of the FWC is to improve students’ writing competence in French by providing one-on-one help and personal feedback on the student compositions.

Who can attend the FWC?

  • French 202 students attend regular appointments in the FWC to work on four compositions throughout the semester. They meet with a consultant every week for a 30-minute session.
  • Upper Division students can attend appointments in the FWC for one-on-one help on a specific composition if:
    • Their professor refers them, or
    • They get approval from their professor to contact the FWC directly.

Corrective feedback used in the FWC

Coming to the FWC is a learning activity. For this reason, the corrective feedback method used in the FWC is a non-explicit / indirect method: the consultant marks the error (underlines it and uses codes) and encourages the student to make the necessary corrections. The consultant does not give the correct answer.

Using correction codes provides students with an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and to gain confidence in their ability to write and edit their own compositions. It is common for students to feel frustrated if all their errors are not corrected, but providing direct answers to specific errors won’t make students more proficient writers. The objective of the FWC is always long-term improvement.

In the FWC, students will learn skills that can be applied to any assignment and become proficient editors of their own texts. Regular appointments in the FWC will help students recognize frequent patterns of errors and develop strategies for correcting them. However, it is important to remember that it takes consistent work; a few consultations won’t eliminate all errors.

Setting realistic goals and expectations

Writing in a Foreign Language cannot be compared to writing in one’s native language. Therefore, students are not expected to be able to write with the same level of complexity as an educated native speaker. Improving foreign language writing skills is a slow process. One needs to be patient and consistent.Accordingly, it is not recommended to translate from English. Making an effort to think in French will limit sentence structure errors and force students to use a language that is appropriate for their level. Students are encouraged to look up specific words or find synonyms to enrich their vocabulary, but are advised against translating phrases or sentences on a translation website.

A session in the FWC

Sessions in the FWC are conducted in French to provide students with an opportunity to speak French outside of the classroom.

Consultants will read compositions and underline errors using codes. Students will be asked to reflect on those errors and work to correct them. If they are unable to do so, the consultant will explain the grammatical rule and give students another chance to correct them independently. If they are still unable to correct some of the errors, the consultant will give a handout regarding that particular rule or refer students to a specific chapter in their textbook, grammar book or online. The student will always be the one finding the correct answer.

Each appointment will focus on a few errors and the priority will be on frequent, serious and treatable errors. Treatable errors are errors that are ruled-based instead of usage-based. Usage-based errors will slowly be eliminated over time as students are more and more exposed to French: through reading and interacting with native speakers. Errors interfering with communication will also be addressed.