“The stone from another mountain can help to polish jade”: Imitation as a Chinese L1 composition pedagogy

Yongyan Li*, Qianshan Chen, Meng Ge, Simon Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In L1 writing instruction, imitation pedagogy is potentially practiced in different parts of the world, yet there has been very little communication among practitioners and researchers on this topic. In the study to be reported in this paper, we aimed to answer the question “How is imitation recommended as a writing pedagogy in a sample of books on Chinese L1 composition?” Discussions of how to use imitation as a writing pedagogy were extracted from a sample of 41 books on Chinese L1 composition to form a dataset of 68,700 Chinese characters. Qualitative content analysis was applied to the dataset in NVivo 12 using a data-driven approach and resulted in a coding structure. In the paper we focus on elaborating two dimensions of our coding structure that addressed the research question in a practical light: “Implementing the imitation pedagogy” and “Going beyond imitation to achieve innovation.” Our findings point to similarities between Chinese and Western practices in using imitation as a writing pedagogy, and highlight a distinction between imitation and plagiarism made in the dataset as well a range of strategies recommended for going beyond imitation to achieve innovation. It is hoped that our paper would contribute to exchanges on L1 writing education between China and the rest of the world.
Original languageEnglish
JournalL1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2022

User-Defined Keywords

  • imitation
  • composition books
  • writing pedagogy
  • L1 writing education
  • teaching Chinese composition


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