The act of suggesting in a university writing service in Hong Kong: How do writing tutors manage it?

Cynthia F K LEE*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


This paper describes and analyzes the sequential organization and linguistic formulations of the act of suggesting and the ways suggesting is mitigated, based on a small corpus of 7.5 hours of conversations recorded from one native English-speaking tutor and one non-native English-speaking tutor in an English writing service at a university in Hong Kong. To assist the description and analysis, certain taxonomies developed for interlanguage and cross-cultural research were adopted, while also taking into account findings from the conversation analytic research on writing conferences. Regardless of the two tutors' cultural backgrounds, their prior experience with teaching and writing consultations in Hong Kong caused them to manage the act of suggesting in a similar fashion. First, the sequential organization of their suggestions comprised five basic patterns: pairing up with praising, criticizing, locating the trouble source, prompting, and suggesting with no prior acts. The insertion of additional turns was common, resulting in extended turn sequences. Second, they used a range of linguistic expressions to increase and mitigate the force of the act, directly and indirectly. The study, although small in scale, allows us to better understand the ways writing tutors handle suggestions in writing consultations in an Asian context and discusses implications for professional practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-150
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

User-Defined Keywords

  • Linguistic formulations
  • Sequential organization
  • Students' writing
  • Suggesting
  • Tutors


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