ESL: Using the Writing and Communication Center

From the ESL Student Handbook, by Young Min, PhD

Perhaps some of you are not very familiar with the idea of the Writing and Communication Center (especially those of you who are from countries where it is not common for colleges or universities to have a writing center on campus). The UW Bothell Writing and Communication Center aims to enhance students’ writing and learning processes on various levels. Many of your instructors will strongly encourage you to utilize the Writing and Communication Center services for your assignments, so use the Writing and Communication Center's services as soon as you arrive on campus.

Writing and Communication Center peer tutors are trained to help you on any genres of writing assignments at whatever stage you are on, whether you are brainstorming, outlining, drafting, revising, or editing your papers. You can bring any questions whether understanding the assignment, researching a topic, constructing a thesis, synthesizing and integrating readings, developing ideas, supporting ideas, organizing ideas, clarifying ideas, grammar, word choice, mechanics, etc. However, Writing and Communication Center peer tutors will not simply proofread your paper for grammatical errors or typing errors. Instead, the tutors will help you identify the patterns of errors in your writing and to learn practical strategies of proofreading and editing your own paper.

Writing and Communication Center Session

You will be working with a tutor in a friendly one-on-one session. Before you come to the Writing and Communication Center, please take a look at the Self Assessment form and prioritize what you want to accomplish in your session on the particular day. If you are at an early stage of writing, you should focus on idea level issues—the aspects of your writing that are concerned with thesis statement, argument development, organization, purpose of the assignment, audience (reader) awareness, etc. Remember that if you are preoccupied with sentence level issues (e.g. grammar, word choice, mechanics, spelling, etc.) during the early stage of your writing, you may end up deleting all the sentences that you worked so hard to compose. The “Self-Assessment” form will help you better understand the idea of “a writing process” and identify your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and reader.

You can make either a face-to-face or phone conference for 25 or 50 minutes, or you can submit your paper online and get feedback emailed to you. For more information on these services, click here.


You will quickly learn that you are required to do a lot of reading for each class. Thus, it is crucial to improve your reading comprehension abilities to finish the vast amount of readings assigned for each class. Reading and writing cannot be separated from each other: the more in-depth reading you do, the more in-depth writing you can do. Remember that the more active you are in your reading process, the more active writer you will become (See the Reading Strategies section for more information). You can bring to the Writing and Communication Center any kind of reading assignment that have some difficult concepts or terminologies whether it’s an article, a book chapter, or an internet source. The process of discussing the readings with other people will help strengthen your understanding of the material and reinforce your argument in your paper.

Speaking & Presentation

You will learn quickly that many courses include an oral presentation—whether it is a group presentation or an individual presentation—as part of your coursework. Developing a student’s oral presentation skills is a very important aspect of college education in the US. The Writing and Communication Center can be a very useful resource to improve your oral presentation skills too. When you are preparing for your presentations, come to the Writing and Communication Center with any questions or concerns. You can discuss how to develop your ideas, how to articulate certain concepts or perspectives, or simply how to pronounce certain words correctly. The Writing and Communication Center peer tutors can help you improve your oral communication skills not only for your class presentations but also for your job interviews, workshops, conference presentations, etc. There are also other resources available to improve your oral communication skills.

Created by Young-Kyung Min, PhD


For More Information on this Handbook

 Contact Young Min, PhD
 Lecturer, Education