Difficulties and Strategies in Argumentative Writing: A Qualitative Analysis

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John Peloghitis, International Christian University

Argumentative writing constitutes an integral component of English language programs at Japanese universities; however, substantial research has documented L2 learners’ difficulty in learning this form of writing. The following paper reports on a small-scale qualitative study examining the problems that a group of 1st-year Japanese students perceived in writing argumentative essays at a liberal arts university. The use of writing strategies was also examined to investigate how students responded to the difficulties they faced in order to overcome them. Data was collected from 7 participants in the form of individual interviews, comments from teacher–student conferences, and notes in e-portfolios. The data indicate that most participants perceived rhetorical features of English argumentative writing as the most problematic. Findings also suggest that participants primarily used cognitive, social, and search strategies to facilitate their writing, whereas metacognitive strategies were used minimally. Implications are discussed to improve writing instruction for argumentative essays.