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SLWIS News, Volume 1:2 (September 2006)

by User Not Found | 10/28/2011

In This Issue...

  • Leadership Updates
    • Letter From the Chair
    • Announcing the SLWIS Web Site
    • TESOL/CCCC Conference Date Resolution: Signatures Needed
    • SLW News Column Editor Positions Available
  • Articles
    • One Generation 1.5 Learner’s Academic Writing Perceptions, Difficulties, and Practices
    • Exercising the Art of Classical Rhetoric in L2 Writing
    • 2006 Symposium on Second Language Writing: “Practicing Theory in Second Language Writing”
  • CALL Column
    • CALL and SLW
  • Research Forum
    • Feminist Pedagogies and Spaces in L2 Composition Classrooms
  • Announcements and Information
    • TESOL’s U.S. Advocacy Action Center
    • TESOL’s Research Standing Committee
    • TESOL’s Resource Center: Call for Lesson Plans and Other Resources
    • Recent Position Documents From TESOL
  • About This Member Community
    • Second Language Writing IS Contact Information

Leadership Updates Letter From the Chair

Jessie Moore Kapper, 2006-07 Chair, Second Language Writing IS,

In the past year, our Interest Section has reached many milestones. After our official recognition in June 2005, Christina Ortmeier-Hooper spearheaded our efforts to have an identifiable presence at TESOL 2006. At the convention, the Second Language Writing IS hosted an outstanding Academic Session ("Broadening Perspectives on Second Language Writing"), an intersection with SPLIS, and eight discussion groups. We also had a constant presence at our IS table in the exhibitors' hall, with several new members volunteering an hour or two of their time. Equally significant, by the time the convention was held, our membership had surpassed that of a few older Interest Sections, speaking volumes about the need for this IS.

This year, we are witnessing the continued growth of the SLWIS, and I invite you to participate in its development.

In Seattle in 2007, we will add 35 slots for papers, demonstrations, colloquia, and workshops, as well as an additional InterSection, to our already strong presence. If you missed the deadline for these events, watch for information on the e-list from Past Chair Christina Ortmeier-Hooper on how you can participate in one of 12 discussion groups. You'll hear more exciting news about our activities at TESOL 2007 in the coming months, but for now, I encourage you to make plans to attend the convention in Seattle, March 21-24, 2007.

Of course, members have many additional opportunities to participate in the SLWIS. I hope you will

  • Contribute to the SLWIS newsletter,
  • Participate in SLWIS e-list discussions,
  • Run for a SLWIS leadership position, and
  • Seek out other members to collaborate on teaching, research, or scholarship projects.

Watch the SLWIS e-list for calls to contribute to future issues of this newsletter. Our esteemed editor, Margi Wald, invites submissions on second language writing theory, research, and pedagogy in all settings. She also frequently solicits book reviews for upcoming issues.

If you are missing these and other announcements on the SLWIS e-list, check your subscription options on the TESOL Web site ( Log on to the site, using your Member ID and password, and click "My Profile." Choose "Edit Profile" at the bottom of your profile window and click "Join Your IS E-List(s)" to receive all SLWIS messages. For more details, visit

Later this year, e-list subscribers will receive information about the upcoming elections for 2007-2008 leadership positions. Open positions will include the discussion electronic-list manager and the 2007-2008 chair-elect. Watch for details and consider nominating yourself or other members who you think would make a positive contribution to the SLWIS.

Finally, I invite you to network and collaborate with other members. One goal of the SLWIS is to provide forums for partnerships among SLW scholars, teachers, and researchers. Our Interest Section received over 150 proposals for TESOL 2007. Though we will see only a fraction of these papers and colloquia in Seattle, I encourage you to partner with other members to build on these exciting projects and to consider submitting short articles about your work to this newsletter.

Thank you for your support of TESOL's newest Interest Section! Please contact me if you would like to be more actively involved in the Interest Section, or if you have suggestions for its development, as we continue to grow.

Best wishes,


Announcing the SLWIS Web Site

Announcing the in-progress Second Language Writing IS Web site:

Christine Tardy, SLWIS webmaster, is asking for input:

  • What would you like to see on this site?
  • What information might you be interested in helping to compile?
  • What updates might you have for the site?

Please contact Christine at; your input is appreciated. 

TESOL/CCCC Conference Date Resolution: Signatures Needed

Deborah Crusan, SLWIS Chair-Elect 2006-07,

For the next 2 years, TESOL and the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) will hold their annual meetings at exactly the same time. In 2007, TESOL will be held in Seattle and CCCC will take place in New York City (March 21-24, 2007). In 2008, TESOL will be held in New York City, April 2-5, while CCCC will convene in New Orleans, April 2-5. Fortunately, the 2009 and 2010 meetings do not overlap.

TESOL 2009: Denver, March 25-28, 2009
CCCC 2009: San Francisco, March 11-14, 2009

TESOL 2010: Boston, March 24-27, 2010
CCCC 2010: Louisville, March 17-20, 2010

Many scholars and teachers, particularly those with an enduring interest in second language writing, attend both the TESOL convention and the CCCC conference; however, at present no plan exists for coordinating the dates of these two conferences.  Therefore, if the conferences overlap in the future, scholars and teachers will be forced to choose between the two conferences, as is the case in both 2007 and 2008, essentially dividing a force that has begun to make strides for the recognition and value of second language writers and writing.

In light of this situation, the Second Language Writing Interest Section will attempt to put forth a resolution at the 2007 Annual Business Meeting once the resolution has cleared other committees. There are several steps in the process. To begin the process, the SLWIS needs to collect signatures endorsing the resolution.

The current resolution reads as follows:

A Resolution Regarding Conference Date Selection
Submitted simultaneously to CCCC and TESOL
on behalf of
the TESOL Second Language Writing Interest Section
and the CCCC Committee on Second Language Writing

WHEREAS in recent years TESOL has made significant efforts to recognize the professional needs of its members with an interest in second language writing and writers;

WHEREAS many TESOL members regularly attend both the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) and the TESOL conference in an effort to promote cross-disciplinary ties and to ensure that the voices and needs of second language writers are heard within both associations;

WHEREAS the 2007 and 2008 conferences of CCCC and TESOL will be held at the same time in two cities a continent apart, forcing TESOL members to choose between the two; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that in the future TESOL shall work to make it possible for its members to attend and benefit from both conferences.

Respectfully submitted by
Deborah Crusan (
Member, CCCC Committee on Second Language Writing
TESOL Second Language Writing Interest Section Chair-Elect

In addition to the Interest Section chair's signature, SLWIS will need the signatures of 10 voting members.  If you would like to endorse the resolution, please e-mail Deborah Crusan at The e-mail need not be long. The following simple statement will suffice:

"I endorse the resolution put forth by the Second Language Interest Section of TESOL concerning the need to coordinate TESOL and CCCC conferences dates."

Please include your standard e-mail signature (with name and contact information) as well. Also, please make sure you are currently a member of both the Interest Section and TESOL.

Thank you in advance for your support.


SLW News Column Editor Positions Available

Margi Wald, SLW News Editor,

So that SLW News can provide members with the most current, relevant information, we are currently seeking editors for the newsletter's Book Review column, Research Forum, and Context columns.

Book Review Editor
The book review editor will compile and manage a list of new books of interest to SLWIS members, publish the list on the SLWIS Web site, solicit submissions, coordinate with publishers to have review copies sent to potential reviewers, and write reviews him- or herself as desired.

Research Forum Editor
The goal of this column is to provide a venue for researchers to share research questions, preliminary results, and areas of interest and for members to keep abreast of current research in the field. The research forum editor will compile a list of brief reports on recently completed or in-progress research projects by SLWIS members. This editor will also compile summaries of conferences and presentations on L2 writing outside TESOL. Furthermore, this editor will solicit reports and summaries from SLWIS members, as well as choose a format and a system of categorization for reports.

Context Column Editors
Given SLW News's goal of encouraging submissions related to a variety of educational settings, especially traditionally underrepresented contexts, we are seeking editors for our Context column to ensure strong, broad coverage. Ideally, we will have several editors for this column, each of whom would represent a particular educational level or context. Possible contexts include, but are not limited to, elementary, secondary, 2-year or community colleges, college/university, community programs, and professional institutes; both ESL and EFL contexts should be represented.  Editors will solicit articles relevant to people working in the chosen context and coordinate with the SLW News editor to ready articles for publication. If interested, please note the context you would like to represent.

Candidates must be members of TESOL and SLWIS (primary or secondary). If you are interested or have questions, please contact Margi Wald, SLW News editor, The SLW News Mission Statement and Call for Submissions can be found at

I look forward to working with members to provide relevant information on second language writing theory, research, and pedagogy in all ESL/EFL settings. Your input is greatly appreciated.

Articles One Generation 1.5 Learner’s Academic Writing Perceptions, Difficulties, and Practices

Cathryn Crosby, The Ohio State University,

As a result of their U.S. school experience and writing background, Generation 1.5 learners generally possess basic familiarity with the writing process approach and academic essay organization, which they can build on when they get to the university. However, once at the university, many Generation 1.5 learners struggle with academic literacies. Many are inexperienced readers (Blanton, 2005) and have difficulty completing academic reading assignments. In writing, they struggle with producing academic text forms, using academic language, and displaying knowledge in writing. The following case study examines some of the perceptions, difficulties, and practices of a first-year undergraduate Generation 1.5 learner with academic writing.


Andrew was a student in an advanced ESL composition course I taught in Fall 2005. He was from Vietnam and fluent in spoken and written Vietnamese. He studied English as a foreign language from first grade until he came to the United States at the age of 16 to further his education. Andrew is considered a Generation 1.5 learner because he completed the last two years of high school (one year at a public and the other at a private school) in the United States. He did not take ESL courses at either school; instead, he was mainstreamed directly into English language arts courses. Upon entering the university, Andrew was placed into an advanced ESL composition course, followed by enrollment in freshman composition the following quarter. 
During the quarter Andrew was in my class, I became particularly interested in how he negotiated academic writing tasks. At the end of the quarter, he agreed to participate in my dissertation study on the academic literacies practices of Generation 1.5 learners, and we soon began meeting to discuss this topic.

Andrew's Perceptions of Writing

Andrew's perception of a good writer was someone who communicates well through writing. He gave as examples his mother and his roommate. Andrew described his mother's good writing as follows: ". . . when she writes letters, she maybe do some communication skill in daily life . . . is a lot better than me and my dad." His perception of his roommate as a good writer was based on his roommate's ability to talk about writing.

I asked him some questions about my essay and he just talking like some kind of teacher. 'This the thesis statement; write this way, this way.' So I figure he's good at it cause I think he took some, a lot of writing class in high school, I guess.

This was interesting because Andrew often had difficulties talking about his writing. Although these difficulties may have resulted from his lack of complete fluency in English or his shy personality, his description of writing in his L1 suggested that he had not yet developed a meta-language for discussing the academic writing he was doing in his courses. This was not surprising; this difficulty is common among Generation 1.5 learners.

Andrew's perception of his ability to write in his L1, Vietnamese, was somewhat negative. "I'm just not that good at it. . . . I studied Vietnamese like grammar and stuff, and had to write an essay about it. I did terrible in that subject."

It seems clear that Andrew's perception of himself as an L2 writer was colored by his writing experience in his L1. Like his L1 self perception, it was rather negative. "I think that my writing was kinda bad because I'm really bad at writing in Vietnamese also." Furthermore, he believed that he was not good at the types of writing commonly found in academic contexts; consequently, he had very little interest in it.

Andrew's Understanding of Academic Writing

Andrew came to realize that there was a difference between the academic writing in his freshman composition class and the concept of academic writing he developed in his advanced ESL composition course. At first, he described the freshman composition course as "pretty much writing at the college level. Like what we do in 108 [the advanced ESL composition course]." Later, however, in discussing different writing assignments for his freshman composition course, he recognized a difference between the two courses. "The essays are very different from 108. We don't study academic writing. The essays got different topics. A lot longer."

Once Andrew had grasped that academic writing is not one monolithic entity but varies according to context, he was ready to begin understanding different types of academic literacies and how they change according to context.

Course Assignment

Andrew's perception of himself as a writer in his L1 and L2 and his conceptualization of academic writing are interesting because of how they seemingly influenced his performance in the freshman composition course. One of the assignments was a rhetorical analysis essay in which students completed assigned readings, selected a Web site or images on the same topic from a list provided by the instructor, and then produced a rhetorical analysis.

Difficulties and Practices

Andrew's main difficulties completing this assignment were reading comprehension and revising. He had considerable trouble understanding the assigned course readings. "Mostly I can read it, but I don't get what trying to say." As a result, it was difficult for Andrew to use the course readings to support his arguments, which weakened his writing. To overcome this difficulty in the writing process, Andrew used the part of the text that he understood-that is, he incorporated only the parts of the text that were comprehensible to him, ignoring the parts that were not.

Andrew also had difficulty using the instructor's feedback to revise and improve subsequent drafts of his writing. As a result, many writing issues were unresolved from one draft to the next. Because he had difficulty understanding the instructor's comments, he often felt overwhelmed and did not know how to begin revising.

In struggling to incorporate his instructor's comments into his writing, Andrew reported trying to fit the ideas into his writing by reading and understanding them and then revising his essay accordingly. However, although grasping this process in theory, he had not yet developed a solid strategy to carry out this theoretical understanding. In her research on ESL students and teacher feedback, Ferris (1999) found that students "had limited strategies for utilizing it [teacher feedback] in subsequent writing tasks" (p. 147). This was exactly Andrew's experience. Ferris (1999) further found that "immigrant student writers may ignore or avoid comments when they do not feel competent to make the changes necessitated by those comments, even deleting material rather than attempting to improve it . . . "(p. 154). And indeed, Andrew saw the value of his instructor's feedback; however, he did not always know how to respond to and reflect it in his revisions. Consequently, he found this aspect of academic writing to be particularly difficult.


I have described in some detail the academic writing difficulties one learner faced in a specific academic context and how his identity as a writer influenced these. Though Generation 1.5 learners certainly have some commonalities, they possess diverse educational and linguistic backgrounds, and the specific difficulties could be different for other individuals or groups of students. Developing a better understanding of their identities will help in better understanding their learning needs.

I have also described some practices Andrew employed in an attempt to complete assigned academic writing tasks. It is important to know the academic writing practices of this population to analyze their effectiveness in helping these learners complete academic writing tasks in various contexts at the university.


Blanton, L. (2005). Literacy interrupted: A tale of two would-be writers. Journal of Second Language Writing, 14(2), 105-121.

Ferris, D. (1999). One size does not fit all: Response and revision issues for immigrant student writers. In L. Harklau et al. (Eds.), Generation 1.5 meets college composition: Issues in the teaching of writing to U.S.-Educated Learners of ESL (pp. 143-157). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Cathryn Crosby is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Second and Foreign Language Education and teaches in the ESL Composition and Spoken English Programs at The Ohio State University.

Exercising the Art of Classical Rhetoric in L2 Writing

Hui-wei Lin, Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science,

In many L2 composition classes there has often been an insistence on mechanical correctness of forms to the detriment of the rhetorical considerations of style. Connors (1985, p. 61) highlighted this point when he noted that "English composition has meant one thing to most people: the single-minded enforcement of standards of mechanical and grammatical correctness in writing." Connors's concerns are echoed by many findings that lament the common practice of calling attention to error correction in writing courses (Connors & Lunsford, 1993; Ferris, 1995; Leki, 1991).

In Taiwan, an obsession with mechanical correctness in a writing course is a common stereotype. This is because, as You (2004) noted, English writing in a typical Chinese university is taught under the guidance of an examination system. In this climate, teachers are predominantly concerned about the teaching of correct form, with far less regard for thoughts and content. Lee (2003) also reported that much of what L2 writing teachers do-correcting grammatical errors-continues to be the primary concern. Of particular concern to many L2 teachers is the fossilization of errors. They feel obligated to correct all mistakes in students' written work.

This widely held belief, however, is contradicted by substantial research showing that there is little if any benefit in devoting time to providing feedback on students' errors (Kepner, 1991; Krashen, 1999; Semke, 1984; Sheppard, 1992; Truscott, 1996). Intriguingly, these findings contradict the common belief that grammar instruction and corrective feedback are necessary in enhancing students' writing (Ferris, 2004; Lyster, Lightbown, & Spada, 1999).

Where do we go from the "grammar correction" debate? 
Error correction in L2 writing classes has been the subject of much controversy. What I am seeking to develop here is the notion that a narrow concern for the most basic level of writing is analogous to learning to drive and never moving out of the first gear. The priority given to simple correctness in college-level writing instruction should be questioned. My argument is that moving beyond that restricted referential level is a vital step forward as a writer. Writing pedagogy needs to involve something more than an exercise in correctness and more than a submission to standard forms.

One of the effective ways of moving beyond the surface level is to help students expand their rhetorical resources by becoming close observers and emulators of highly accomplished authors. Pedagogically, students can be guided to focus on stylistic features or the crafting of literary texts to obtain insights into composition skills. The premise is based on the argument that "aware readers will develop into aware writers" (Kusel, 1992, p. 467) and that development of "rhetorical consciousness" in students should help promote the quality of writing (Swales, 1990, p. 213).

Defining and Teaching Rhetoric
Because the teaching profession has given little attention to the development of L2 writing ability on the basis of studying rhetoric, this study attempts to explore the following question: In what way might classical rhetoric promote the quality of student writing? The ensuing section attempts to focus on what is involved in the instructional procedures and how this pedagogical framework may enhance the acquisition of writing skills.

In order to delimit the scope of study, the concept of rhetoric is narrowly construed here as stylistic devices a writer may employ to scale the relative effectiveness of expression. From a methodological perspective, rhetoric is operationally defined in terms of the following style features commonly discussed in stylistic textbooks (Montgomery et al., 2000; Simpson, 2004):

  • Sound patterning (e.g., alliteration)
  • Repetition
  • Simile
  • Metaphor
  • Hyperbole
  • Personification
  • Antithesis

In any event, this list is not intended to be comprehensive, and it is worth noting that the list is organized through several distinct levels of language, starting from the sound of language (phonology) to the sentential level of language (syntax).

The teaching of rhetoric in this study was derived from the operational definition above. For each of the seven devices, a systematized instructional procedure-which lasts for 2 hours-was adopted. Four episodes were included:

A. Introduction: This is the first step to acquaint students with the history, terminology, and features of the rhetorical device in focus. Explicit explanations were given to prepare students for active involvement in subsequent tasks and discussions.

B. Illustration: Students are presented with abundant examples exemplifying the specific rhetorical device, with emphasis on what and how writers are doing linguistically. It should be noted that students read texts not so much as content but as ways of initiating, arranging, stylistically editing, and finally composing their own texts. Such a focus on textual analysis, in effect, underscores the well known synergy between reading well and writing well. Hence reading becomes a productive means for developing writing skills (Miller, 2001).

C. Adaptation: From these theoretical beginnings of how rhetoric works, the teacher assigns texts as models of what students need to write. Students practice by imitating some models, largely applying what they have learned in their own writing. They may be asked to write sentences or short texts, experiment with the device, and sometimes exchange texts with class peers, communicating feedback at various points during the writing process. The teacher plays the role of facilitator, working with students and creatively intervening to ensure a relevant and meaningful experience. With practice exercising the rhetorical device, students begin as eager readers who analyze, in order to imitate, literary texts.

D. Exploration: As a follow-up activity, students start to find more examples of how a rhetorical device is crafted by other professional writers. This activity will enlarge the pool of material students encounter and help them further consolidate and internalize what they have been practicing.

A Comparison of Pre- and Postdrafts  
In this classroom inquiry, we sought to answer the research question from the product perspective: Product data are based on students' pre- and postrevision texts collected at the beginning and end of the seven-week study.
Prior to the instructional program, it was found within the student texts that none had adopted any of the rhetorical devices as part of the drafting repertoire. This finding, as already discussed, reflects the fact that elements of style have on the whole been neglected, or at least sidelined, in most writing courses. Whereas the original drafts contained no rhetorical device at all, the revised drafts were found to have an average of three devices per paper, suggesting that students become more conscious of the issues of rhetoric in the process of composition. The majority of students took advantage of what they had learned about rhetoric and used it as an aid in writing.

It is evident from student texts that certain devices are quite commonly employed and others rarely so. Among the devices introduced, simile was the most widely employed feature, with 18 students employing it to engage the readers' attention. This as followed by repetition (used by 7 students) and hyperbole (used by 5 students). For example, one student, Jane1, wrote:

Predraft  Postdraft
 still remembered the feeling at that time. I was at a loss when and how to begin and where to end. What I could do was to blame others and was full of remorse. I still remembered the feeling at that time. I was at a loss when and how to begin and where to end. What I could do was to blame others and was full of remorse. I rolled up and bent in my bed, listening to sad songs and read sad poems. I was just like an empty shell, sad and pessimistic in it.

As Aristotle pointed out in Rhetoric, good similes give an effect of brilliance. The added lines above (italicized for emphasis) demonstrate Jane's strategic use of emotional appeals (pathos) to magnify her grief through an image of "empty shell" created by devices of simile. By doing this, Jane has brilliantly breathed life into her sentences, which were previously limited by their lack of vitality and charm.

Moreover, the introduction of a rhetorical device invariably invites and elicits more imaginative endeavors from student writers. With the help of rhetorical devices students can readily solve one of the most crippling problems they usually encounter in writing activities: a lack of words and thoughts. In other words, rhetoric can serve as a writing prompt when students are struggling to get words on paper.

The following excerpts show how students use rhetorical devices to make their texts vividly expressive and conceptually rich. Table 1 presents the pre- and postdrafts written by four students. Where a rhetorical device appears, it is italicized and parenthetically noted.

Table 1
A Comparison of Student's Pre- and Postrevision Drafts

Students  Predraft Postdraft
Beth Betty and I become good friend and she is going to marry my elder brother who is handsome, humor and works in a great company.  Betty and I become good friend and she is going to marry my elder brother who is handsome, humorous with high income. (sound patterning: alliteration)
Richard So, Neil tears and burns the map. He wants to hide the secret forever.  So, Neil tears and burns the map. 
Because he does not hope to control the world,
Because he does not hope to,
Because he does hope to have peace
He wants to hide the secret forever.
Alice I didn't learn about anything in my last year (last writing teacher), but I am sure I have learned something in this term. My new teacher teaches us so much knowledge; I tried to learn all of them.
My former writing professor is an angel who came from the hell, and this year, my writing professor is a devil who came from heaven. (antithesis)
Christine Although I keep shooting them, the number of monsters increases quickly.
Although I keep shooting them, the number of monsters increases quickly. The scene is like a group of bees swarming out of the nest suddenly.(simile)
Note. Students' texts are recorded in their original form.

It may be justifiable to say that studying classical rhetoric promotes individual expression, stimulates thoughts, and creates a sense of creativity in college intermediate-level L2 student essays.

Though there is little doubt of the important connection between rhetoric and the teaching of writing, little attention is paid to what classical rhetoric can offer L2 students (and teachers as well) in the context of the study and teaching of writing. This empirical study has shown that teaching rhetoric affords EFL students opportunities to see more clearly the interrelatedness of form and meaning and the psychology of diction both in their own writing and in the works of literature.

A disclaimer, however, before I conclude: I am not calling here for a mechanical adoption of classical rhetoric to prettify students' prose. Nor am I suggesting that rhetoric is a set of exacting formulas that can be applied merely by rote. I am calling rather for a realization of writing pedagogy that would open up space for stylistic variety and linguistic experiment, a pedagogy not geared predominantly toward the insistency on accuracy and the penalization of error.

 Jane is a pseudonym, as are the names of the students whose works are quoted.

Connors, R. J. (1985). Mechanical correctness as a focus in composition instruction. College Composition and Communication, 36(1), 61-72.
Connors, R. J., and Lunsford, A. A. (1993) Teachers' rhetoric comments on student papers. College Composition and Communication, 44(2), 200-223.
Ferris, D. (1995). Student reactions to teacher response in multiple-draft composition Classrooms. TESOL Quarterly, 29, 33-53. Ferris, D. (2004). The "Grammar Correction" debate in L2 writing: Where are we, and where do we go from here? (and what do we do in the meantime...?). Journal of Second Language Writing, 13, 49-62.
Kepner, C. G. (1991). An experiment in the relationship of types of written feedback to the development of second-language writing skills. The Modern Language Journal, 75(3), 305-313.
Krashen, S. (1999). Seeking a role for grammar: A review of some recent studies. Foreign Language Annals, 32, 245-257.
Kusel, P. A. (1992). Rhetorical approaches to the study and composition of academic essays. System, 20, 457-469.
Lee, I. (2003). L2 writing teachers' perspectives, practices and problems regarding error feedback. Assessing Writing, 8, 216-237. 
Leki, I. (1991). The preference of ESL students for error correction in college-level writing classes. Foreign Language Annals, 24, 203-217. 
Lyster, R., Lightbown, P. M., & Spada, N. (1999). A response to Truscott's "What's wrong with oral grammar correction." Canadian Modern Language Review, 55, 457-467.
Miller, S. (2001). How I teach writing: how to teach writing? To teach writing?. Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture, 1(3), 479-488. 
Montgomery, M., et al. (2000). Ways of reading: Advanced reading skills for students of English literature. London: Routledge.
Semke, H. D. (1984). Effects of the red pen. Foreign Language Annals, 1, 195-202.
Sheppard, K. (1992). 'Two feedback types: Do they make a difference?' RELC Journal, 23, 103-110.
Simpson, P. (2004). Stylistics: A resource book for students. London: Routledge.
Swales, J. (1990) Genre analysis: English in academic and research settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Truscott, J. (1996). The case against grammar correction in L2 writing classes. Language Learning, 46, 327-369.
You, X. (2004). "The choice made from no choice": English writing instruction in a Chinese University. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13(2), 97-110.

Hui-wei Lin is an assistant professor of English at Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science, southern Taiwan. This paper is based on a paper presented at the 22nd International Conference on English Teaching and Learning in the Republic of China in 2005.

2006 Symposium on Second Language Writing: “Practicing Theory in Second Language Writing”

Tony Cimasko, Purdue University,; Joleen Hanson, University of New Hampshire,; Karyn Mallett, Purdue University,; Steve Simpson, University of New Hampshire,

The 2006 Symposium on Second Language Writing was held June 8-10 at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The fifth in a series of biennial gatherings, the Symposium opened on June 8 with a conference devoted to graduate student research in the field that featured nearly 50 individual presentations on a varied range of issues related to L2 writing. The second half of this article is devoted to coverage of the symposium's Graduate Student Conference (GSC), an international event that showcased the L2 writing research of emerging scholars in the field. Following a successful GSC, June 9 and 10 were days filled with presentations and discussions led by some of the most well-respected and influential members of the L2 writing community.

For those who have never attended the Symposium on Second Language Writing, it is important to know that it, unlike the graduate conference, is held in a single room. This format is unusual compared with most academic conferences. However, the unique arrangement fosters a shared experience. All attendees—whether graduate students or distinguished speakers or professionals in the field of L2 writing—are able to hear the intertextuality of the presentations and the overlapping of topics. Speakers refer to and build on the presentations that precede them. As an attendee, then, each person is really a participant in the unfolding conversation.

The theme of this year's symposium, "Practicing Theory in Second Language Writing," attracted a diverse array of scholars, featuring keynote sessions by Lynn Goldstein from the Monterrey Institute for International Studies; Dwight Atkinson, from Purdue University; Lourdes Ortega, from the University of Hawaii at Manoa; and Alister Cumming, from the University of Toronto. Complementing these keynote presentations were 10 additional sessions devoted to the symposium theme. Collectively, this panel of L2 writing specialists addressed and explored issues related to the questions "What is theory?" and "How do we use theory, particularly in L2 writing research and pedagogy?"

Approaching and Exploring the Role of Theory in L2 Writing
Throughout the symposium, the presenters used different approaches to discuss theory. Some relied on defining terms such as theory, practice, praxis, and ideology. In addition to defining the focus of the symposium discussions, speakers used these definitions to relate theory and practice. Many symposium speakers presented surveys of existing research in order to describe the prevalent use of theory and answer the questions "How has theory been used in our field?" "What theoretical gaps are there in our research practice?" and "What does this survey suggest for future research efforts?" Other presenters, most notably Lynn Goldstein, Christine Tardy, and Alister Cumming, used autobiography to approach their discussions of the use of theory. They answered the question "What conclusions can I make about theory based on my own research and teaching experience?"

Regardless of the approach used, each session offered greater exploration of the issues related to the role of theory in L2 writing. As the first keynote speaker, Goldstein opened the 2-day discussion with an autobiographical reflection on the development of her own understanding of teacher feedback and student revision processes. Focusing on this particular aspect of L2 writing allowed for an in-depth examination of the interaction between theory and practice while also raising some questions regarding the way in which theory is viewed and understood by the general L2 writing community.

The Nature of Theory in L2 Writing Research
Once the conversation was started, Douglas Flahive and Dudley Reynolds discussed their surveys of L2 writing research in order to speak to the relationship between theory and quantitative research. Applying a 16-item evaluation metric, Flahive critiqued some of the seemingly systematic and conventional content contained in the discussion sections of L2 writing flagship journals. In particular, Flahive questioned the purpose of two particular rhetorical moves: the inclusion of "Pedagogical Implications" and the call for "Further Research Needed." Flahive suggested that these moves not be made when the research being discussed does not clearly lead to implications and calls for further research.  Reynolds used his research survey to address the importance of quantitative research at a time when decision makers seem eager for "scientifically based, experimental studies." In order to capture a "picture of reality," Reynolds identified the relative distribution of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method approaches to inquiry in L2 writing research and then further analyzed the focus and purpose of the quantitative studies. He uncovered the need for more mixed-method approaches and called for more studies focused on the interactions of readers and writers. He also cautioned researchers not to oversimplify research topics, processes, and findings for a public audience, especially when the audience is looking for theory-driven quantitative evidence in order to push an agenda.


Also addressing the nature of theory in L2 writing research, Linda Harklau and Christine Tardy both focused on the role of theory in qualitative research. Harklau noted the current predominance of qualitative research in the field, and called attention to some basic epistemological assumptions common in the social sciences. Affirming the value of theoretical diversity in L2 writing research, she noted the importance of making theoretical paradigms and assumptions explicit. She also urged researchers to combine and synthesize paradigms for L2 writing research, and to rely on current scholarship rather than old textbooks. Harklau advocated for recognizing the relevance of theory at the local, contextualized level, as opposed to the view that theory must be generalized to account for all contexts. Tardy presented an autobiographical assessment of her own process of theory building. She noted that graduate students are typically asked to do research but not to build theories. Through the dissertation process she discovered that conclusions drawn from research can be the starting point for building a theory. She proposed a model in which L2 writing theory emerges from the recursive interaction of classroom experience, research, classroom practice, and disciplinary knowledge gained from reading. Drawing on her experiences as a novice theory builder, Tardy also questioned the notion of useful theories of L2 writing while highlighting the complexities involved when researchers in the field build such constructive theories.

Defining and Using Theory, Practice, and Ideology 
In the second keynote speech, Atkinson resisted separating theory from practice and instead proposed the following four-part schema, one that was referred to frequently by subsequent presenters:

1. Big T theory 
The unifying, predictive kind of theory. Examples of Big T theory in L2 education would be Krashen's monitor model, or "Focus on Form."

2. Small t theory
 A speculative approach to something.

3. Small p practice
 Customary, habitual action reflecting a commonsense view of the world.

4. Big P practice
Practice that is outward-looking, reflective, and open to change. It is usually local and contextual. It can upend theory, especially small t theory.

Atkinson concluded that writing is too complex to be described by a unifying predictive theory (Big T). Instead he described a mutually beneficial, bidirectional relationship between "small t" theory and "Big P" practice. He favored a "small t" conception of theory as "thinking," rather than a "Big T" conception of theory that "explains everything by one who knows." He argued that only locally relevant theories exist, which was echoed by other speakers.

A. Suresh Canagarajah's humorous and insightful presentation, "Nothing Practical Like an Ideology," continued the discussion of how theory can (or should) be used in second language writing research. After debunking several common assumptions about the nature of ideology and establishing that ideology is "always already there in social practice," Canagarajah described the ways in which theory-informed by various ideological assumptions-can help us examine practice with "new eyes." Most theories, he argued, can tell us something about practice as long as we are aware of their limitations; that is, "we need to hold theories lightly so we can critique them when necessary."

Theory and Ideology in L2 Writing 
Ryuko Kubota applied theories of critical contrastive rhetoric to two international studies of the rhetorical patterns of opinion essays in junior high school language arts textbooks. Among the textbooks from China, Japan, Canada, and the United States, Kubota found diverse rhetorical patterns rather than culturally predictable ones, indicating the dynamic, diverse, diasporic, and hybrid nature of cultural rhetoric. Despite this rhetorical diversity, she noted a cross-linguistic homogenizing trend in China and Japan which she explained as an artifact of global communication impacted by English. Kubota concluded that a critical reevaluation of the concept of cultural dichotomy is needed.

Practicing Theory in L2 Writing 
Before beginning the third keynote presentation on Saturday morning, Lourdes Ortega positioned it within the evolving social context of the symposium by summarizing the issues introduced on Friday. The paper she presented, coauthored with Joan Carson, discussed how theoretical insights about multicompetence and social context could have greater influence on L2 writing research praxis. For example, she pointed out that the views of L2 composing reflected in current studies at the intersections of L2 writing and SLA still rely on a monolingual model of language, despite significant theoretical work about multicompetence. Ortega suggested four concrete strategies for bringing theoretical insights to bear on research praxis. First, researchers need to study the same subject writing in more than one language. This first strategy entails the second: that research teams need to be multilingual. Ortega explained that multicompetent raters are needed to evaluate the work of multicompetent writers, citing McCarthy, Guo, and Cummins (2005) as an example. She also discussed the need to develop analytical systems for studying writing across languages. Finally, she urged researchers to investigate writing in a variety of social contexts, not just in college-level educational institutions. She acknowledged the difficulty of characterizing contexts and the risk of essentializing cultures and contexts. Overall, Ortega argued that such changes in research praxis promise to improve our understanding of L2 writing.

Theory and L2 Writing Instruction 
In line with several other speakers, Wei Zhu established that no "coherent and consistent" theory of L2 writing exists at this point. Throughout Zhu's presentation and in the discussion following this session of the symposium, participants seemed to agree that we need multiple theories to discuss L2 writing adequately. John Hedgcock furthered the discussion by posing the following questions:

  • Do we have ongoing consensus that a singular or unifying "theory" of L2 writing is achievable?
  • If we had a unified theory, would we use it? Don't our practices already guide our theory building?
    Both Zhu's and Hedgcock's presentations resonated with the recognition of multiple theories of L2 writing and with the view that theory must be limited to a local context or a particular set of data.

Though agreeing that we need multiple theories to adequately discuss second language writing, Alister Cumming posed questions at the end of his keynote presentation that problematized a complete rejection of "Big T" theories. He wondered whether a lack of unifying theories would lead to further compartmentalization of administration, teaching, and research. He also asked members of the field to consider what might be integral to second language writing, and whether we could distinguish what is integral from what is peripheral, socially useful, situationally variable, or interdependent on other phenomena.

Theory and L2 Writing Assessment
Given the renewed pressure on teachers at all levels to conform to state- and federally mandated assessment standards, Deborah Crusan and Bill Condon's presentations could not have been timelier. In "Assess Thyself Lest Others Assess Thee," Crusan articulated the danger of relying solely on results from standardized tests such as the new SAT writing exam to label and categorize students both in public schools and, if certain policymakers have their way, in higher education. She reported a recent development in Ohio that requires state universities to use standardized tests to place students in mainstream or "remedial" writing classes. Though she stressed that these tests can—and often do—have some useful function in education, she cautioned against using them as the only means by which students are assessed. If writing teachers and researchers do not involve themselves more in the assessment debate, she warned, the power to create and interpret assessment instruments will be further coopted by those who are not familiar with the needs of students or their writing processes.

In a similar vein, Condon's "Toward an Inclusive Language Policy: The Case Against Correctness" emphasized the need to rethink our criteria for "standard" or "correct" English in light of the prevalence of nonstandard and world Englishes. In his talk, Condon historicized the construction of so-called standard English, tracing its roots to Enlightenment-era attempts to police the language. Condon conceded that efforts to broaden notions of "correct" English will at times conflict with the need to communicate effectively. He also discussed the possible implications such language policies would have for journals in our field, some of which expect finished articles to have few—if any—errors in grammar. The process, Condon argued, is not a simple one and requires a certain amount of negotiation (allowing nonnative writers to work with proofreaders, for example), but it is nonetheless a direction in which the field needs to head.

Theory and L2 Writing Dissertation Research
Diane Belcher and Alan Hirvela concluded the symposium with a down-to-earth, tag-team discussion of the role of theory in the dissertation process. Their presentation, "Do I Need a Theoretical Framework? Doctoral Students' Perspectives on the Role of Theory in Dissertations on L2 Writing," not only explored the implications dissertation writing has for theory formation in the field, but also described to graduate students in attendance (many of whom were currently "dissertating") the manner in which professionals in the field developed (or did not develop) theoretical frameworks that both suited the needs of dissertation projects and satisfied their dissertation advisors. In some cases, the participants in the study expressed a reluctance to adopt a theoretical apparatus for their research, or mentioned feeling railroaded into a particular theoretical framework by their advisors; in other cases, the participants recounted the organic way in which they worked with their advisors to develop theoretical frameworks. The bulk of the participants in their study, of course, fell somewhere in between these two extremes.

Naturally, Belcher and Hirvela refrained from drawing generalizable conclusions from the data, as the process is a highly individual one; their study did, however, provide both graduate students and graduate student advisors with insights into the many factors that affect this pivotal stage in becoming a professional in our field. They also noted that although dissertations don't reflect everything a scholar learned through a research project, they do allow for more in-depth discussion of methodology, findings, and theory than is possible in journal articles. For this reason, Belcher and Hirvela argued that reviews of L2 writing research should include dissertations as well as journal articles.

Synthesizing and Reflecting on the Nature of Theory in L2 Writing
In the end, this year's theme, "Practicing Theory in Second Language Writing," allowed attendees to reflect collectively and critically on the ways in which theory and practice influence research and inform each other. It was an exploration of what theory is and what we do with it-how we talk about it, and how we might want to use it differently in the future. In the process of addressing this topic, however, participants questioned basic epistemological assumptions and examined discipline-specific terminology. Needless to say, by the end of this shared experience, there seemed to be a strong desire for more discussion. Reflecting this, Atkinson mentioned how helpful it would have been for the symposium participants to have more time together in a format similar to the GSC's concluding small-group discussions to sift through the issues that had been raised. 
In the end, Paul Matsuda's closing message to all symposium attendees included his observation that graduate students in the field often question their own abilities to build theory, whereas leaders in the field appear to be somewhat hesitant to discuss the relationship between theory and practice in their classrooms.

Graduate Student Conference on Second Language Writing
For the second time in its history, the Symposium on Second Language Writing opened with a conference devoted to graduate student research in the field. This event featured nearly 50 individual presentations on a diverse range of issues and provided a preview of where second language writing will be in the years to come. The speakers came from master's and doctoral programs in all relevant fields, including composition, ESL, and education. As always, North American institutions were well represented, but overseas institutions had an unprecedentedly strong showing as well, with presenters from Capital Normal University in China, the American University in Cairo, and the Copenhagen Business School, among many others. Beyond the networking opportunities offered at any conference, graduate students participating in the GSC were able to take advantage of feedback on their ongoing research from instructors and researchers at all levels of experience.

Whereas the main symposium sessions focused on issues of theory construction in the field, Graduate Conference presentations covered topics ranging from textual borrowing (Zuzana Sarikova) to genre theory and second writing (Shawna Shapiro), and varied in their theoretical and pedagogical stances and implications. Some speakers, such as Kimberly Wolbers, Svjetlana Curcic, and Jiang Pu, presented findings from meta-analytical surveys of L2 writing research, whereas others such as Meltem Muslu, Sercan Saglam, and Elke Van Steendam favored a more empirical approach to ESL writing concerns. Still other presenters turned their attentions to practical concerns for the ESL writing teacher. For example, James Perren of Temple University described a class newsletter project assigned to a Japanese EFL class, and Ulugbek Erkinovich Nurmukhamedov from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign discussed the pros and cons of various electronic feedback options. (For a complete list of presenters and presentation titles, visit the Symposium Web site at

New Perspectives on the Field
In some cases, presenters shared portions of their larger research projects, work that begins to interrogate and problematize our field's current research pursuits. For example, Wolbers, Curcic, and Pu of Michigan State University presented a meta-analytical study of research on precollege multilingual and L2 writing. The presentation was an outgrowth of their larger survey of L2 writing research, an update of Durst's (1990) earlier examination of composition research (Juzwik et al., in press). Similar to Durst's findings in his study of writing research in the 80s, Wolbers, Curcic, and Pu found that the majority of composition research conducted between 1999 and 2004 focused on college students. In response to this imbalance, they concentrated on PreK-12 second language writing research to determine the age groups that were favored in that research, the methodologies employed, the problems or issues explored, and the types of theoretical frameworks used. Not only did their presentation identify several needed areas of PreK-12 writing research (for example, there was a notable lack of studies on disability, genre, and assessment), but it also raised awareness of the field's theoretical underpinnings, an important consideration if the field's findings are to have an influence on policy formation.

Several presentations also discussed implications for policy formation at the collegiate level. In "Silenced Conversations: The Impact of Institutional Forces on L2 Writing Development in Universities," Jeremie Seror of the University of British Columbia presented portions of an 8-month ethnographic study of five international students. Whereas the larger project studied the social aspects of teacher feedback, his conference presentation dealt specifically with "institutional factors and their impact on students' and instructors' motivation and ability to engage in meaningful feedback practices." He addressed such issues as the instructor's workload and how the student's knowledge of the teacher's heavy workload affects the teacher-student relationship, class size, and required departmental grade distributions (i.e., the notion that the grade distribution in a given class should correspond with grade averages taken from a much larger sample of students). Seror encountered an anthropology professor who, in order to "conform to the grade distribution," wrote students' grades on "yellow stickies" so he could "come back to change stuff" if needed. Such topics are constantly discussed by instructors in faculty lounges and coffee shops, but are not often the stuff of our research on L2 writing feedback.

A few presentations explored the difficulties international graduate students experience as they grapple with both the complexities of academic writing and the plethora of conventions and practices in the institution and the country in which they are studying. Fei Wang's "Understanding the Difficulties Faced and Strategies Used by Chinese Graduate Students with English Academic Writing in an American University" reported on interviews with humanities and social sciences majors at different stages. One of the common issues for these students was coping with not only linguistic issues, but also the values of American universities and how those values are reflected—or demanded—in academic writing. Nevertheless, the difficulties faced by these students varied significantly across the curriculum and between individuals, emphasizing the need to enrich culture-level views of students with an understanding of individual capabilities. In order to cope with these issues, many rely on trial-and-error approaches, a situation that Wang thought could be improved with help from peers, professors, and curriculum designers.

GSC presentations often reflected—and sometimes transformed for their own purposes—the symposium's overarching focus on practicing theory, with some presenters moving beyond theory and into other important conversations taking place in the field. Gyl Mattioli's presentation, "Second Language Writers in 1101: Teacher's Beliefs," furthers the field's long-standing goal of persuading mainstream writing classes to account for the needs of second language learners. In this pilot study, she was particularly interested to know how well L1 composition instructors have heeded such appeals from L2 writing scholars. Mattioli investigated what university composition instructors knew about L2 writers and writing, their level of personal language-learning experience, and alterations to their curricula and practices made for the benefit of L2 writers. Her most important findings point to some hopeful signs about instructors' receptivity to nonnative speakers (belief that composing in another language is easier than editing, that "writing often" is important, and that greater sensitivity emerges from experience with L2 writers) as well as some negatives (that being a good L1 writer automatically makes becoming a good L2 writer easier). She concluded with recommendations for pedagogical change, including more explicit work on improving students' editing skills and greater emphasis on L2 issues in composition instructor development.

Bringing It All Together
The rich diversity of presentations at the GSC also included notable work involving longitudinal studies of writing processes by Chia-Chen Cheng, research into student attitudes towards nonnative speaking instructors teaching critical pedagogies by Eunsook Ha Rhee and Jungmi Kim, a discussion of Latino acculturation issues in the academy by Doris Correa, learner responses to feedback in the course of learning Japanese as a foreign language by Nobuaki Takahashi, and description of a new methodology that allows students to draw on their home languages for insight into their L2 writing by Tom Pierce.

After a full day of attending panels on diverse topics, the GSC participants gathered to discuss and synthesize. Together with established scholars in the field, they participated in a small-group discussion session, working in separate groups structured around major categories that were covered during the day. Each group worked to bring the graduate presentations toward the core concern of the symposium: theory, practice, and their intersections.

Remaining Comments, Questions, and Concerns 
In closing, the 2006 Symposium on Second Language Writing and Graduate Student Conference challenged assumptions and raised new and important questions at the same time that it clarified how those in the field work to "practice theory." As novice theory builders who have been encouraged by this year's symposium to consider the purpose and influence of theory in L2 writing research and pedagogy, some of the graduate students had the following to say about the impact that this conference has had on their own thinking about the field and their work in it:

"I came away from the Symposium with the idea that using theory will help me make sense of my research data, and that I can use theory to make my research understandable and useful to others. Previously I had considered theory a dreaded obstacle, a vague, amorphous monster that I must wrestle to the ground in order to somehow build my research on it. The very fact that accomplished researchers had different approaches to talking about theory was liberating."

"I was impressed by the amount of attention devoted by different presenters during all 3 days of the Symposium to graduate students, in our field and in other disciplines. So much of the research done in our field has focused on undergraduate students and younger. In terms of theory development, it will be interesting to see how existing theories are modified, and how new theories are spawned, to reflect the attention given to this stratum of academia (and higher, perhaps). At the very least, our theories will become more comprehensive than they have been. This hint of a trend also suggests possibilities for very productive interrogations of our field."

"At the beginning of the Symposium, I admitted my feeling that being in the same room with such respected and distinguished leaders in L2 writing was like being at the Oscars and meeting the stars. Being a part of this year's conversation and hearing the sincerity with which each speaker presented information or each participant raised questions was very important for my own professional development. I recognize now that these "stars" are not well known simply because they know how to play the academic game; they are known because they do good work and they have genuine commitment to the field. In the face of typical graduate-life pressures to publish and present, it is good to know that sincere commitment to a topic can carry a professional throughout a career."

"Reflecting back on the Symposium and Graduate Student Conference, I am struck by the collective work these events performed for our field. Individually, the various presenters differed in their methodologies, their ideological assumptions, and their perspectives on theory and its potential uses and purposes in second language writing research. And at times, the presenters and the Symposium participants even disagreed on what seemed at the time to be the most fundamental of issues. However, it is this diversity that gives our field depth, and it is the tug and pull of academic deliberation that challenges our field to explore new ideas. I think it is easy for us—for me, at least-to overlook the collaborative nature of knowledge—making at such conferences. "

The 2007 Symposium on Second Language Writing is tentatively scheduled to be in Japan. For more information, visit the symposium Web site at Find out more about the 2006 Symposium by visiting Paul Matsuda's blog. More than 100 photographs and Paul's reflections on the symposium are available at


Durst, R. K. (1990). The mongoose and the rat in composition research: Insights from the RTE annotated bibliography. College Composition and Communication, 41(4), 393-394.

Juzwik, M., Curcic, S., Wolbers, K., Moxley, K., Dimling, L., & Shankland, R. (in press). Writing into the twenty-first century: An overview of research on writing, 1999-2004. Written Communication.

McCarthy, S. J., Guo, Y.-H., & Cummins, S. (2005). Understanding changes in elementary Mandarin students' L1 and L2 writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 14(2), 71-104.

Tony Cimasko was a cochair of the 5th Symposium on Second Language Writing's Graduate Student Conference. He is currently a PhD student at Purdue University, focusing on genre perspectives in second language writing.

Joleen Hanson was an associate chair for the Symposium on Second Language Writing. She is a PhD student at the University of New Hampshire studying disciplinary writing development among first and second language writers in the sciences.

Karyn Mallett was an associate chair for the Symposium on Second Language Writing. She is a PhD student in the ESL program at Purdue University, where she is studying the political rhetoric of those connected to the current English-only movement in the United States.
Steve Simpson was a cochair of the Graduate Student Conference. He is a PhD student at the University of New Hampshire, where he is currently studying the implications of situated learning theories for L1 and L2 classrooms.

CALL Column CALL and SLW

Andrea Word, CALL Column Editor, SLW News,

Editor's Note: This column first appeared in the inaugural issue of SLW News. Given SLWIS's increase in membership since that issue, this column is being reprinted to inform our growing membership.

This new issue of the SLWIS newsletter represents the beginning of an exciting period for our Interest Section. As the director of programs of ESL and intensive English at a 4-year university, I struggle with the challenges of utilizing robust new technologies while adhering to sound pedagogical principles. In addition, like many of you, I have a strong background in TESOL and applied linguistics but only a smattering of formal training in technology. In fact, in my case, I'm not sure a single CALL class in grad school (enlightening though it was) merits reference as even a "smattering" of training. However, I have, over the years, gained some experience through a variety of positions I have held (as online instructor, online tutor, and online editor, as well as SLW instructor and, currently, program director and curriculum developer).

In addition, like many, if not most, of you, I am passionately interested in the world of technology and the possibilities it represents for the SLW classroom. Unfortunately, passionate interest does not manufacture the time required to keep up with the omnipresent and constantly changing world of technology. Therefore, though I would like to explore all facets of the interface of SLW and technology, I know it is not possible for one person to accomplish this alone.

I volunteered for this position for two reasons: (a) I am interested in exploring further the use of computers, associated software, and Internet-based materials to enhance second language writing instruction and (b) I don't think it's possible for one person to be completely up-to-date and familiar with all the offerings available in the world of CALL (even in the relatively narrow neighborhood related to SLW). As a result, somewhat selfishly, I would like to commission you, SLW specialists and specialists-to-be, to nominate hardware and software for review as well as to review instructional approaches at the curricular and lesson levels.

To those ends, I propose that we discuss not only what is available in terms of tools but also what people are doing with the tools we have. I hope to include three reviews or critiques per issue. The first would be a review of hardware (computers, handhelds, lab set-ups, etc.); the second, a review of a software package or Internet-based program (e.g., WebCT/Blackboard, Pronunciation Power); and the final review would be of the use of CALL in curriculum or lesson design, with a discussion of the challenges met and overcome in relation to goals and delivery.

For each issue, we will list software, Internet-based materials, and links (where permitted) to online resources developed and in use by SLWIS members and colleagues. To get the ball rolling, I would like to request applications to review the following: WebCT (or Blackboard, or any combination of the two since Blackboard purchased WebCT in late 2005); Horizon-Wimba; and Dreamweaver (or CourseBuilder for Dreamweaver). Because these are Internet-based and software packages that require some degree of familiarity in order to review meaningfully, please submit an application to review them only if you are already familiar with these materials and programs. In addition, please let me know if you have used any of these in designing and delivering materials for SLW contexts.

I am particularly interested in nominations for reviews of similar software and Internet-based programs and materials. Please e-mail me at if you would like to review other online courseware management systems (e.g., e-College, Sakai, Moodle, Oncourse), communication software (e.g., Articulate Presenter), or development tools (e.g., Course Genie, Adobe GoLive, FrontPage).

Reviews of Internet-based programs and software should address the following: cost, accessibility (PC vs. Mac; Netscape vs. Internet Explorer), and user-friendliness (for both designers and end-users [students]), as well as the pros and cons in its use related to the needs of specific SLW populations. Please plan to specify the educational context for which you are targeting the review (e.g., preK-12 vs. community college vs. university) and the target population being served, including number of students (child vs. adult; second v. foreign language).

Reviews of instructional applications (whether curricular or at the lesson level) should specify the target population (age, level, and goals). In addition, you will want to speak to issues including methodological foundations, pedagogical issues, and both teacher- and learner-related challenges.

In return for your help, I offer a solemn commitment to serve as a facilitator in the exchange of ideas and assessments as you report your forays into the technologies of the world.

I hope you share my excitement at this opportunity to gain insights into the interface between SLW and CALL. I will try to end each column with a motivational question to get us thinking about issues central to our progress in these areas. Please let me know your response to this question via e-mail. I'll try to incorporate the breadth of responses in each subsequent column.

Question: Is CALL the best term for what we are talking about? It's a term that's been around since the 1960s, when it basically referred to the computer-assisted transference of relatively static information—the movement of information via cyberspace rather than paper. Is it time to reassess its appropriateness in light of all of the technologies that are emerging as we write? Perhaps CALL could become computer-altered language learning. Does using online platforms or software programs significantly impact learning itself? Change the experience for our learners in a significant way? 

Andrea Word is the director of ESL and IEP at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Her research interests include the use of computers, associated software, and Internet-based materials to enhance second language writing instruction.

Research Forum Feminist Pedagogies and Spaces in L2 Composition Classrooms

Erin Knoche Laverick, The University of Findlay,

Research Background

In the past year, Saudi Arabian students have entered universities and language programs across the country at a rapid rate thanks to the Saudi government's scholarship program. In spring 2006, The University of Findlay's Intensive English Language Program welcomed 61 new Saudi students who were excited and eager to learn. However, the teaching methodologies that our instructors were using prior to their arrival were not effective. We quickly realized that different teaching approaches were needed in order to best help them learn the language and prepare for their undergraduate and graduate studies.

When the students arrived, I was in the early stage of researching for my comprehensive exams and dissertation. Not sure what my focus would be, I kept my eyes open in my classroom and was struck by the importance of the Saudis, especially the women, developing their voices through writing. Writing journals, narratives, and other personal texts seemed to create a safe haven for these students and enabled them to openly dialogue with their instructors. These observations sent me racing to the library, hoping to find studies and curricula to support my observations. I didn't find much.

I decided to turn to the field of L1 composition pedagogy and research. In the past 30 years, L2 composition teachers have borrowed L1 methodologies and tweaked them to meet the needs of their L2 learners. For example, when process pedagogy entered L1 composition classrooms in the 1970s, L2 teachers quickly moved from an applied linguistic method or a strict focus on grammar to process-centered teaching. Students were taught to globally revise their work beyond sentence-level errors and look at the overall development and organization of their writing (Leki, 2000, p. 100). Today, process pedagogy continues to be taught in many L2 composition classrooms. Also, other L1 pedagogies such as feminist pedagogy serve L2 writing instructors well. Though some instructors may be hesitant to embrace feminist pedagogy, Susan Jarratt (2000) clarified any confusion about the teaching methodology and wrote that feminist pedagogy does not constitute discussions about feminism or the women's movement. Instead, it involves "the decentering or sharing of authority, the recognition of students as sources of knowledge, a focus on processes (of writing and teaching) over products" (p. 115). With a focus on process writing, feminist pedagogy clearly fits well into composition classrooms. Both pedagogies center on students' dialoguing, inventing, and drafting the written word; students become their own sources of knowledge or authorities through the written word. Therefore, with feminist pedagogy, a platform is created for students to openly discuss and write. This platform is especially important, for example, in peer review when students are expected to respond to each other's work. If one group or person dominates the exercise, others may be silenced in the process. Therefore, it is important that an instructor create a safe learning environment for the more timid students and encourage them to voice their opinions. In other words, the classroom—a simple place with chairs and desks—becomes a space in which a discourse community is created.

Another L1 theory that benefits L2 composition instruction is, therefore, the concept of space. Space includes the physical or virtual classroom, space on the written page, and rhetorical space. Many scholars such as Roxanne Mountford consider these to be gendered spaces. Therefore, notions of feminist geographies in the writing classroom overlap with feminist pedagogy, as both help students find their voices by creating a safe haven for them. Holley and Steiner (2005) claimed, "The metaphor of the classroom as a 'safe space' has emerged as a description of a classroom climate that allows students to feel secure enough to take risks, honestly express their views, and share and explore their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors" (p. 50). When nonnative speakers enter a writing classroom, it is our job to help students find comfort in their learning environment and voice their opinions without hesitation. These "safe spaces" can be accessed using feminist pedagogy in which students' individual voices are privileged.

Feminist Pedagogy in the Composition Classroom

Most L2 learners require a safe environment in which they can comfortably learn to express their opinions through writing. Although most are accustomed to traditional, lecture-based classrooms in which professors' primary method of instruction entails Freire's banking concept, this classroom design hinders their writing development. Therefore, Jackson's (1997) three principles of feminist pedagogy are imperative for students to accept such pedagogy and begin to express their opinions through writing: (a) egalitarian relationships must be established between the students and the instructor, (b) students must find their individual voices, and (c) students' experiences must be used as a writing tool. These principles can be accomplished through creating a discourse community that functions as a support group for students as they experiment and learn the written language.

Rhetorical Spaces

To best understand the concept of classroom space, we can look at notions of rhetorical space. Roxanne Mountford's (2003) article "On Gender and Rhetorical Spaces" was the catalyst for my dissertation, as I was intrigued by her theory of gendered spaces. She wrote:

Rhetorical space is the geography of a communicative event and, like all landscapes, may include both the cultural and material arrangement, whether intended or fortuitous of space. The cultural is the grid across which we measure and interpret space but also the nexus from which creative minds manipulate material space. The material—a dimension too little theorized by rhetoricians—often has unforeseen influence over a communicative event and cannot always be explained by cultural or creative intent. (p. 17)

For Mountford, culture is a means of space. Different cultures have different concepts of space, which crosses over nicely into a multicultural writing classroom. With different cultures' notions of space, it is important to understand how they manipulate their spaces and access new ones, especially in a writing classroom.

In this regard, there is a strong connection to Foucault's "Of Other Spaces," in which he writes about how space influences lives and history, and, I would argue, writing. Throughout these spaces, hierarchies are created, which are especially poignant in regard to L2 learners who come from patriarchal cultures and may for the first time experience a feminist teaching approach in the United States. The notion of space may also explain why students are so hesitant to embrace feminist pedagogy. As Mountford pointed out, gender plays a role in a woman's ability to cross over into different or new spaces. Students may not feel welcome in certain spaces or find themselves lost in others. This is especially true in an L2 writing classroom where students may not be accustomed to the writing process or feminist teaching methodologies. Therefore, it becomes the teacher's responsibility to help students access such spaces in the physical classroom or on the written page.

Future Research

The research presented was a catalyst for my dissertation currently entitled "Spaces in the L2 Composition Classroom." A notion I would like to further research is the limitations of or hesitations about feminist pedagogy in writing classes and whether or not students become acclimated to the pedagogy over time. Indeed, students may feel uncomfortable when they first enter a class because the methodologies and assignments are new to them. Each semester, I find myself battling my students because they are hesitant to embrace collaboration, conferencing, and group discussion. Discourse communities are a foreign space for them, and they do not understand the importance or need for a support group. However, by the end of the semester, they have a clearer understanding of how a discourse community aids in their development as writers. This could be a potentially interesting area of study, as there is not much research about students' adjusting to feminist pedagogy in composition classes over the course of a semester. To best understand this topic, I need to pay closer attention to my own teaching, observe other writing classrooms, and conduct additional research.

I also intend to include a curricular component in my dissertation. With the increasing number of Saudi Arabian students in the United States, it is important to help the young female students find their voices and enter comfortable writing spaces. Without thorough teacher comments, the Saudi female students would not be able to engage in conversations with their instructors regarding their writing, as I've observed on several occasions that the women feel more comfortable dialoguing on the written page instead of vocally discussing their writing in a large classroom setting or in a teacher conference. Therefore, the written page becomes an important space for these students. Dialogue journals and teacher comments on the written page may be a curricular component that I research and place into my dissertation.

The intention of this article was to generate discussion among SLW News readers. Any comments or feedback regarding my preliminary research or dissertation would be greatly appreciated.


Holley, L., & Steiner, S. (2005). Safe space: Student perspectives on classroom environment. Journal of Social Work Education, 41(1), 49-64.

Jackson, S. (1997). Crossing borders and changing pedagogies: From Giroux and Freire to feminist theories in education. Gender and Education, 9(4), 12-20.

Jarratt, S. (2000). Feminist pedagogy. In G. Tate, A. Rupiper, & K. Schick (Eds.), Composition Pedagogies: A Bibliographic Guide (pp. 113-131). New York: Oxford University Press.

Leki, I. (2000). Writing, literacy, and applied linguistics. Annual Review of Linguistics, 20, 99-115.

Mountford, R. (2003). On gender and rhetorical spaces. The gendered pulpit: Preaching in American spaces (pp. 16-39). Carbondale: Southern Illinois Press.

Erin Knoche Laverick is the assistant director of the Language and Culture Programs at The University of Findlay. She is also a PhD candidate at Bowling Green State University.

Announcements and Information TESOL’s U.S. Advocacy Action Center

TESOL has a new addition to its Web site: the U.S. Advocacy Action Center. This new, interactive feature includes detailed information on the U.S. Congress including a congressional directory, legislation and bills, and communication tools. Through the Advocacy Action Center members can

  • Look up their representatives: Users can access information about members of Congress, including photos, contact information, occupations, e-mail, and phone numbers. Also included are committee staff, rosters, and congressional leadership information.
  • Contact the government: Users can e-mail members of Congress, the President, or other government officials. In addition, users can learn tips about communicating with members of Congress and their staff.
  • Find information on key bills and legislation: Users have access to detailed information on specific bills and legislation in Congress, including summaries of the legislation, sponsors, and the bill's status. Users can also view the Congressional schedule for the day, and search for other key legislation pending in Congress.
  • Tell a friend: Users can easily send information to one or more friends via e-mail with a link to any page in the Advocacy Action Center, including news, alerts, votes, and other legislative-related information. In addition, members can easily copy "web stickers" that will allow them to have a ZIP code search on their site.

To access this new site, go to



TESOL’s Research Standing Committee In June 2006, at the request of the leadership of the RIS, the TESOL board of directors approved dissolving the TESOL Research Interest Section. Declining participation in Research Interest Section business meetings, volunteer leadership positions, e-lists, the online newsletter, and convention activities led the RIS leadership to this decision.
Current and recent leaders of the Research Interest Section believe that interests of TESOL researchers can better be served through selecting a related TESOL Interest Section and/or by getting involved with the newly constituted TESOL Research Standing Committee.
For more information on the newly constituted TESOL Research Standing Committee, please contact Constant Leung, the chair of the TESOL Research Standing Committee,

TESOL’s Resource Center: Call for Lesson Plans and Other Resources Over the past few years, there has been growing interest by TESOL members in having access to more online resources. In response to this, TESOL is developing the TESOL Resource Center (TRC), which will allow members to find and share various online resources such as lesson plans, activities, quizzes or other assessment techniques, practical tips, papers/articles, and presentations and other multimedia resources.
TESOL will be providing more information to members in September. Although the anticipated launch date for the TRC is late November 2006, members are encouraged to share lesson plans and other resources in advance to help build the site. The TRC will have a simple online submission and review process. Each IS will have at least one reviewer. If you are interested in sharing an online resource, please contact the Education Programs Department at

Recent Position Documents From TESOL

To read the full text of these documents or to download printable copies, go to "Position Statements and Papers" at

Statement of Principles for the Reauthorization of ESEA

As the Congress and the administration look toward the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 2007, TESOL outlines the following principles to guide the reauthorization process to help ensure the academic success of English language learners:

  • Developing sound assessment and accountability systems for English language learners
  • Advancing expertise and expanding capacity
  • Building community
  • Promoting multilingualism

Position Statement on Immigration Reform in the United States

In the debate over immigration reform in the United States, proposals to the immigration system have ranged from purely punitive measures to indiscriminate amnesty. Because of the complex issues that surround immigration, any reform of the U.S. immigration system needs to be fair, equitable, and comprehensive. In addressing the many issues surrounding the U.S. immigration system, TESOL encourages intelligent and open debate.  This position statement outlines the elements of carefully considered and comprehensive immigration reform proposals that TESOL supports.

Position Paper on Equitable Treatment for Part-Time, Adjunct, and Contingent Faculty

Since the 1970s, experts have noted with increasing concern a trend in employment patterns of faculty at institutions of higher education, specifically the tremendous growth in the number and percentage of part-time, adjunct, and contingent faculty in higher education.  TESOL has long opposed excessive use and exploitation of part-time, adjunct, and contingent and adjunct faculty because it undermines academic quality and freedom and respect for teaching. All members of an institution's faculty are first and foremost instructors, so they all deserve equal pay for equal work and should be treated fairly and with an equal amount of respect, regardless of their employment status. This position paper outlines actions to be taken when the use of part-time, adjunct, and contingent faculty is called for.

About This Member Community Second Language Writing IS Contact Information

TESOL's Second Language Writing IS provides a forum for researchers and educators across grade levels and institutional settings to discuss and exchange information in the area of second language writing.

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