One potent effect of the globalisation of English is the huge increase in the number of non-native English speakers (NNSs) undertaking university courses in English-speaking countries. There they study alongside native speakers (NSs), compared with whom they are at an obvious disadvantage. Analysing one essay by a NNS at an Australian university, this paper confronts a common and very significant challenge that such students face: difficulty with constructing a coherent argument. It probes this difficulty with particular reference to the techniques of reader-based writing embodied in the concept of “metadiscourse”. Possible remedies will be proposed to help the student, both for the short and long term.