The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Writing Culture Clash: English Essay Writing Challenges in Romanian Pre-University Settings

Ionela Manda, West University of Timisoara (Romania)

Madalina Chitez, West University of Timisoara (Romania)


In the Romanian pre-university settings, students have become increasingly aware of the importance of learning English. According to data provided by The National Institute of Statistics Romania [1], English ranks first in the top of foreign languages studied in schools in the Romanian educational system. Essays are the most common compulsory writing tasks assessed in both national and international English examinations taken in Romania by high school students, more specifically, in the B2 First and C1 Advanced Cambridge Examinations, in Module C of the National Baccalaureate Exam (also known as Foreign Language Competence Exam) and in the County and National English Olympiads. The essay quality assessment criteria differ in all contexts and are particularly challenging for students, considering the essay writing requirements differ in the native language, i.e. Romanian [2], compared to English as a Foreign Language, which leads to a perceptible writing culture clash [3]. In this paper, we analyse the differences between the essay evaluation criteria proposed by all the above examination types. We also create and interpret a comparative framework in which evaluation criteria are associated with teaching recommendations (e.g. use of typical essay phraseology). Using a sample corpus of pre-university student essays, we exemplify the outcomes of such recommendations and extract features that might shed light on the linguistic and rhetorical interference from the mother tongue in English-L2 essay writing. The results of our analysis can be used by teachers of English in secondary and high school education to create writing culture specific recommendations for their students engaged in essay writing activities.

Keywords: essay writing, writing in pre-university settings, essay writing in English L2 in Romania, corpus of pre-university student essays


[1] National Institute of Statistics, Romania. Accessed 04 March 2022,  <>
[2] Tucan, D.; Pop, A.-M.; Bercuci, L.; Chitez, M. “Writing transition: a corpus-supported study of the freshmen’s written argumentation competence building”, Conference Proceedings - 13th International Conference Innovation in Language Learning, Filodiritto Editore, 2020, pp. 62-66.
[3] Chitez, M.; Kruse, O. (2012). "Writing cultures and genres in European higher education". In M. Castelló & C. Donahue (Eds.), University writing: Selves and texts in academic societies, Brill, 2012, pp. 151-175.

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