Supervisory practices in English-medium undergraduate and postgraduate Applied Linguistics thesis writing: Insights from Japan-based tutors

John Lindsay Adamson, David Coulson, Naoki Fujimoto-Adamson


This paper reports on a study of how three Japan-based tutors (the authors) guided thesis writing, potentially towards publication, and provided their students with the agency to negotiate disciplinary norms. In this paper, we attempt to supplement the body of literature on academic writing supervision and consider particularly the later stages of the supervisory process for undergraduate/postgraduate thesis writing in English which were achieved by scaffolding students’ writing, bilingual discussions, direct corrective and metalinguistic feedback, and mind-mapping. We argue these emphases on language and content helped both non-anglophone and anglophone novice researchers to conceptualize, and attain, a level of completion beyond their current capability. The study was informed by the literature on content and language integrated learning (CLIL) and English-medium instruction (EMI). This paper shows that our supervisory practices have been influenced by data from bilingual language correspondence with students over multiple drafts, and long-term collaborative autoethnography. Our examples reflect a balance between explicit, prescriptive feedback, often in the scaffolding of pre-writing supervisory advice and language use. We have aimed consistently to promote students’ agency in their own writing.


thesis; supervision; English-medium instruction; Japan

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