Cultural and Linguistic Awareness

Welcome, Writing Center Tutors!

Languages of the World Map

Please use the hyperlinks below to learn more about the differences in culture and languages of our international students' countries:

Arabic | Chinese | French | German | Hebrew | Japanese | Korean | Russian | Spanish


Why are we doing this?

Writing center tutors should have some knowledge of different cultures and linguistic perspectives to prepare themselves for working with international writers. With a large percentage of ESL clients visiting our writing center, tutors should be prepared for a heterogeneous group. They need to recognize that students from each national group share a set of writing difficulties which are closely related to the linguistic and cultural background. The information provided enhances the knowledge of the University of Maryland’s Writing Center tutors. The research will help equip them with information to better service international ESL students. International students face challenges when operating in a different cultural and educational system and writing essays in English—a language other than their native tongue. Therefore, tutors must be aware that these ESL students’ writing is affected by the rhetorical styles of their first languages.

Disclaimer: In order to understand and better help international ESL students, writing center tutors can use this researched information when approaching each writing session. The researched information will include differences between countries, including but not limited to culture, language, and education. These guidelines are intended to help tutors gain a better understanding of the writing challenges ESL students encounter when writing in English; they are by no means exhaustive.

This project started when, Nabila Hijazi, one of the assistant directors, was teaching ENGL388W, Writing Center Internship during Spring 2014 semester. James Gray, Brittany Whetzel, and Edward Lo worked on the intial project, and James continued working with Nabila until he graduated in May 2015. 

We welcome comments and suggestions. For questions, contact Nabila Hijazi at


Stats of ESL students UMD

This chart represents a set of data that our center collects to find out the first languages of students who choose to disclose that information. This data reflects all classes for which students received tutoring services. 


Banno, Eri. Shokyū Nihongo "genki" =: Genki : an Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese. Tōkyō: The Japan Times, 2011. Print.

Bascope, Judith. "Hispanic Culture in South America." Personal Interview. 15 Apr. 2014.

Campbell, Charles. Beyond Language: Cultural Predispositions in Business Correspondence. 20 Feb. 1998. Website. 27 Apr. 2014.

Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook: Flags of the World. 17 Apr. 2014. Website. 27 Apr. 2014.

Cortez, Judy. "Culture and Schooling in South America." Personal Interview. 16 Apr. 2014.

Dickerson, Miyoko. "Japanese Culture." Personal Interview. 10 Apr. 2014.

Education in Japan. Education in Japan. October 2007. Website. 16 Apr. 2014.

Fischer, Boris. "German Culture." E-mail interview. 15 Apr. 2014.

Goehner, Duane, and Yale Richmond. "Russian / American Cultural Contrasts." Russian / American Cultural Contrasts. N.p., 2001. Web. 08 Aug. 2014.

Mihalicek, Vedrana, and Christin Wilson. Language Files: Materials for an Introduction to Language and Linguistics. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 2011. Print.

Moujtahid, B. “Influence of Cultural and Linguistic Backgrounds on the Writing of Arabic and Japanese Students.” Writing Lab Newsletter 21.3 (Nov. 1996) 1-11. 

Rohm, Fredric W., Jr. "American and Arab Cultural Lenses." Inner Resources for Leaders (n.d.): 1+. Web.

Shoebottom, Paul. A Guide to Learning English. 1996. Website. 27 Apr. 2014.

Skillguru. Languages of the World. Digital image. Skillguru. N.p., 2010. Web. 08 Aug. 2014.

Swan, Michael and Bernard Smith. Learner English: A Teacher's Guide to Interference and Other Problems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Print.

Western Washington University. US / Japan Culture Comparison. 2011. Website. 27 Apr. 2014.

Zusin, Sasha. "Israeli and Russian Learning Styles." E-mail interview. 05 Aug. 2014.


For questions or comments, contact Nabila Hijazi at:

Or call (301) 405-3785

1205 Tawes Hall

College Park, MD 20742