SLWIS Newsletter

Back Issues: 2011 to present

SLWIS News, Volume 3:2 (September 2008)

by User Not Found | 10/28/2011

In This Issue...

  • Leadership Updates
    • Letter From the Chair
    • Update From the SLW News Editorial Staff
  • Articles
    • Ripping Off the Band-Aid: Efforts to Implement an Integrated Model of ESL Writing Support at a Liberal Arts College
    • From Narrative to Expository: A Revision Technique for Developing Writers
    • 2008 Symposium on Second Language Writing: “Principles and Practices in Foreign Language Writing Instruction”
    • 2008 Symposium on Second Language Writing: Graduate Student Conference
  • Book Review
    • Book Review: Teaching Developmental Writing: Background Readings
  • Brief Reports
    • The Effectiveness of Corpus-Designed Activities in Academic Writing
  • CALL Column
    • Corpus-Based Activities for Logical Connectors
    • Using Blogs as ePortfolios in ESL/EFL Writing Classes
  • EFL Column
    • Call for Participation
  • TESOL 2008 Updates
    • Academic Literacies of Undergraduate Generation 1.5 Learners
    • Designing Academic Writing Tasks Using Corpus Findings
    • Second Language Writing/Teacher Education InterSection: Nurturing Prospective Second Language Writing Teachers
    • Review of “Innovations in Assessing Writing” at TESOL 2008
    • SLWIS Special Event at TESOL 2008
  • Announcements and Information
    • Symposium on Second Language Writing 2009: The Future of Second Language Writing
    • SSLW Interactive
  • About This Member Community
    • Second Language Writing IS Contact Information
    • SLW News: Mission Statement and Call for Submissions

Leadership Updates Letter From the Chair

Gigi Taylor, 2008-2009 Chair, Second Language Writing IS,

Welcome to the new year of the Second Language Writing Interest Section! I’d like to open this newsletter by thanking our members for such enthusiastic participation over the past year, with special thanks to our Past Chair Deborah Crusan for her energetic leadership and to our officers and steering committee members for their tireless efforts.

As we move into our fourth year, we have a great deal of success to look back on. Although the New York City convention format was a day shorter than usual, the SLWIS was impressively represented on the program, hosting 35 sessions, including papers, workshops, poster sessions, reports, colloquia, demonstrations, and Discussion Groups on such topics as assessment, error correction, assignment design, teacher preparation, research, effective feedback, coherence, voice, verb tense, literacy development, world Englishes, publishing, and more. We also hosted an InterSection with the Teacher Education IS entitled “Nurturing Prospective Second Language Writing Teachers.” We collaborated with the CALLIS on an InterSection entitled “Paradigms of Plagiarism” and with the Applied Linguistics IS on the “Textual Coherence and Learning Writing” InterSection. In addition, we hosted an Academic Session on “Writing Centers, Language Acquisition, and Global Contexts” with scholars from the United States, Japan, and South Korea, and once again we hosted a standing-room-only Evening With the Experts.

As I reflect on our success, I must say that perhaps the most gratifying aspect, for me, of the SLWIS is the lively and genuine sense of community we have. Our membership spans the globe, spans the educational spectrum, and spans a tremendous range of research and teaching interests. But we show up and we talk to each other. We ask questions, we listen carefully, we respond thoughtfully, and although we may not always agree with each other, we respect the value of each contribution and we make a concerted effort to be counted among the contributors. I have attended conferences of other professional organizations where the superstars give their presentations and then cloister themselves away with their famous colleagues, rarely engaging with other participants. I have seen rank-and-file participants at other professional conferences stand back in awe-struck silence when their professional idols pass by and have heard them doubt their own ability to contribute anything of value because they are not famous themselves.

We are different.

Once again this year, our leading scholars generously shared their time by staffing the exhibition booth to promote interest in the SLWIS and by attending another enormously successful social event for the IS membership. Once again, our scholars, teachers, administrators, graduate students, and community members generously shared their professional insight through conference presentations, through engaging conversations at our social, and through very energetic participation in the SLWIS business and planning meeting. And once again, the SLWIS has submitted a record number of proposals for TESOL’s 2009 convention in Denver.
Thanks to all of you, the vitality of the Second Language Writing Interest Section continues to increase. I hope that over the next year, each of you will feel welcome and encouraged to keep the conference energy alive through thoughtful posts to the electronic discussion list, through submissions to the SLWIS newsletter, and through interesting projects with your colleagues. We look forward to hearing all about it!

With best wishes for the coming year,


Update From the SLW News Editorial Staff

Margi Wald, SLW News Coeditor,

I am pleased to welcome the latest members of the SLW News editorial staff:

Steven Bookman, Book Review Coeditor

Steve Bookman has been a part-time ESL instructor at Lehman College for 7 years, specializing in academic ESL. He also teaches English composition at Bronx Community College. In addition, he teaches academic skills and college preparation courses and tutors students in literacy, ESL, and science courses at Lehman College. He published his first book, Basic College Research Skills , last year.

Sharon Whitehead-van Löben Sels, Book Review Coeditor

Sharon Whitehead-van Löben Sels has taught first grade for 20 years at a public school in the great Central Valley of California. She received her master’s degree in multilingual studies from California State University, Stanislaus, and her PhD in education from Capella University in 2003. She teaches online courses in language theory, diversity, and social justice for Chapman University and has recently been hired by Walden University.

Lilian Farag Allah, EFL Column Editor

Lilian Farag Allah has been an English teacher for 15 years in different disciplines. She has an MA TEFL from the American University in Cairo. Her expertise is quite varied, with special interest in teaching writing and integrating technology in teaching.

Please join me in welcoming our new editorial staff. They bring a wealth of knowledge about second language writing teaching and research, which will surely benefit the newsletter and its readership.

Interested in joining the team?

Consider becoming a SLW News Context column editor.

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, two-year or community colleges, college/university, community programs, and professional institutes. Editors will solicit articles relevant to people working in the chosen context and coordinate with SLW News coeditors to ready articles for publication. If interested, please note the context you would like to represent.

For more information, contact Margi Wald, SLW News coeditor, at

Articles Ripping Off the Band-Aid: Efforts to Implement an Integrated Model of ESL Writing Support at a Liberal Arts College

Denise Alvarez, , and Shireen Campbell, Davidson College,

Davidson College, a small residential college located in North Carolina, is consistently ranked among the top 10 liberal arts colleges nationwide. The college provides a writing-intensive curriculum and small class sizes that help students develop the communication and critical thinking skills that the institution values. To support the development of writing and speaking skills, the college established a Writing Center in 1995 and a Speaking Center in 2004. While most students are native-English-speaking (NES) American citizens, Davidson consistently has a population of roughly 3.5% international visa students [1]. Although this number is small compared with the higher numbers of visa students and larger populations of resident nonnative-English-speaking (NNES) students at state-funded institutions, NNES international students at Davidson need to perform at the same high levels of competence as their peers in a rigorous and linguistically demanding academic environment.

Over the past 4 years, we have been working to heighten awareness of ESL student needs, improve how the institution identifies ESL students from among the general population, and enhance academic support for ESL students, with a focus on writing skills. This article outlines measures taken to accomplish these objectives and recommendations for the design of a support structure for ESL writers that integrates rather than isolates them from the general student population.


The college has not ignored the needs of ESL writers. For over 20 years, it has hired a series of adjunct instructors to teach first-year writing courses offered exclusively to international students. The courses were always separate sections containing only international ESL students, and the adjunct faculty members, for the most part, had no other role at the college than to teach these classes. In the past, these courses had fulfilled the college’s first-year writing requirement, but after a WAC-based program was implemented in 1999, they were considered prerequisite only. Students required to take the ESL writing course were identified through a writing assessment conducted by the adjunct during international student orientation. As a result, a select group of international visa students were required to take an additional writing course as a prerequisite to the first-year writing course required of all students.

Beyond these courses and the tutorial assistance available to all students through the Writing Center, however, there has been no targeted support for second language writing development. This band-aid solution, which essentially segregated ESL writers and the faculty teaching them from the larger academic population, exemplifies what Matsuda (2006) has called a policy of “linguistic containment” of ESL writers. The isolated courses have had the unrealistic objective of filling any gaps in composition instruction and language development, after which international students were expected to progress without any further second language support.

In 2004, her first year of teaching the fall semester course, Denise discovered that it lacked both a clear purpose and student buy-in: Students felt wrongly singled out as “remedial” writers in a high-stakes academic environment that was intolerant of remediation. These factors, coupled with the wide range of student issues in relation to varying levels of English language proficiency, different educational backgrounds, and ranges of motivation toward language learning, made the course challenging to teach.

Between 2004 and 2006, Denise worked to increase student buy-in and improve overall course relevance to the broader academic context. She refined the assessment and course placement process, improved communications to faculty and students about course objectives, and adjusted assignments. Working with the Composition Committee, which oversees the college’s first-year writing requirement, she implemented a provisional credit system in which these students could be exempted from also having to take the regular first-year writing course required of all students.

Despite these adjustments, the course design remained inherently problematic. The class format did not offer the individualized instruction that students with such varying needs required, and because it separated students from the academic context for which it was intended to prepare them, it did little to introduce ESL writers to the expectations of mainstream faculty and allow them to measure themselves against their NES peers. So in early 2007, Denise submitted recommendations to the Composition Committee hinged on the premise that international ESL students would benefit from greater integration into Davidson’s academic environment, while being provided with an appropriate level of support from an ESL-trained professional.

A Revised Program Design With Positive Results

As one of the Composition Committee members as well as the Writing Center director, Shireen was eager to collaborate on a new support model based on Denise’s suggestions. In fall 2007, we implemented a pilot program that replaced the single course with a writing-center-based model in which an ESL specialist worked with faculty teaching first-year writing courses to provide individualized support for ESL students that supplemented classroom instruction. The new model had two key elements: one-on-one tutoring in the Writing Center provided by an ESL specialist, and collaboration between the specialist and writing course faculty. To cast the net of ESL writing support even further, Denise cross-trained and regularly consulted with student tutors in the Writing Center.

The new program design better integrated ESL writers into the mainstream curriculum, and Denise was able to support a larger number of ESL students than she would have taught in the class model. Fall usage statistics reveal that ESL students used the Writing Center, whether working with Denise or another tutor, in far greater numbers than ever before in conjunction with the new program. With ESL support, over 90% of international students enrolled in writing courses successfully completed the requirement in their first semester, a large increase over the less than 50% who had received provisional credit from the separate course in previous years.

One unexpected benefit of the pilot program was that the new model enabled us to identify members of a previously untracked or “hidden” population of ESL students. Previously, only international visa students had been assessed for proficiency in English composition. But in the pilot program, faculty partners also referred NNES students living in the United States as permanent residents and U.S. citizens to Denise for specialized support.

Overall, by placing the specialist in constant interaction with faculty and giving her exposure to writing assignments across the curriculum, this program better synchronized ESL support with mainstream academic expectations. In addition to raising awareness of ESL issues, the availability of a specialist alleviated some faculty discomfort about having ESL writers in their classes. Faculty feedback on the initiative was widely positive, and Denise also felt that the ESL specialist-faculty partnerships were fruitful collaborations.

Additional Research, Recommendations, and Outcomes

After the fall semester ended, we compiled a report for key college stakeholders that considered our results and faculty feedback in relation to ESL practices at institutions recently identified by college administrators as Davidson’s peers for benchmarking purposes. For the peer survey, we gathered data from institutional Web sites and circulated an online survey to individuals at each about admissions practices and standards, language assessment, writing course placement, and offerings for ESL students, staffing of ESL support, and faculty development.

We also considered Davidson’s institutional statistics, such as the retention rates and SAT Verbal scores of international students compared with those of the overall student population. Though numbers of international students are small, the frequency of lower retention rates among international students suggests that variances may be leveled off by an increase in academic support for students who struggle with second language issues. Over the past 4 years, Denise had observed that some international students needing extensive ESL writing support entered the college with disproportionately large gaps between their Verbal and Math scores. Therefore, SAT Verbal scores could be used, in conjunction with other data, to help identify students who may be in need of ESL support [2].

Based on pilot program results and our other research, the report included broad-based recommendations that call for enhanced communication and support across the trajectory of the ESL student experience. Essentially, we recommended that the college

  • Continue to use an integrated model of ESL writing support through the college Writing Center, employing an ESL specialist and cross-training peer tutors;
  • Increase faculty development with regard to working with the ESL population;
  • Identify and track the ESL population more fully; and
  • Coordinate support among faculty and staff involved in preadmissions, admissions, orientation, advising, and curricular support.

    As of spring 2008, we can report that the new model of mainstreaming students with specialized tutorial support through the Writing Center each fall will continue. In addition, other offices on campus are willing to adjust their practices in light of our findings. The Admissions Office will improve information about standards and expectations provided for international applicants on the college Web site and tag admissions folders to help identify ESL students who may need support. Individuals responsible for international student orientation will enhance their discussion of the multidisciplinary and writing-intensive nature of a liberal arts education. Faculty advisors who will be working with students identified as ESL will receive additional information on how to support them. Finally, our Institutional Research Office has agreed to track ESL-identified student performance relative to overall student performance, while respecting student confidentiality.

    The Perils of Broadening ESL Support

    Amid these many gains, our conversations on campus in the wake of this pilot program have (re)confirmed an essential source of tension: concerns about remediation and perception of reduced standards that may slow both efforts to identify and meet needs of ESL students and efforts to improve pedagogic practices to reflect a more inclusive linguistic environment. At this point, the campus does not have a permanent staff member with ESL credentials; such a presence, we feel, is a necessary step before we will be able to prepare faculty to work with a more linguistically diverse student population and convince faculty and administrators that different doesn’t equal lowered standards.

    While we believe ESL student support cannot be delegated to one individual or department but must be shared among stakeholders across the institution, the challenges we have faced suggest the complexities involved in identifying and serving the ESL population in this broader context. It is certainly “messier” to engage faculty in ESL support, and it could be seen as less efficient to integrate rather than segregate ESL students because doing so requires ongoing collaboration. Sharing ownership makes the tasks of budgeting, administering, and staffing more complicated. Though there are historical reasons why ESL and second language writing have evolved separately from other academic disciplines, a professional division that has been a factor in the separation of ESL students from the NES student population (Matsuda, 2006), recent scholarship documents the need for institution-wide approaches to ESL support, and for inter- and intradepartmental collaboration in providing this support (Dadak, 2006; Kubota & Abels, 2006; Phillips, Stewart, & Stewart, 2006). Despite the challenges involved in such cross-institutional approaches, we hope that building an improved network of support for ESL students will result in greater inclusivity and, ultimately, greater academic success, for these students.


    [1] Based on statistics provided by the Davidson College Office of Planning and Institutional Research.

    [2] It has proven difficult to use institutional data on student demographics to identify ESL students. Students designated as “international” may not be nonnative English speakers. Conversely, there are NNES students who are not international students. Attempting to identify ESL students by self-reported ethnicity codes is also problematic because ethnicity does not always imply language needs.


    Dadak, A. M. (2006). No ESL allowed: A case exploring university and college writing program practices. In P. K. Matsuda, C. Ortmeier-Hooper, & X. You (Eds.), The politics of second language writing: In search of the promised land (pp. 94-108) [Electronic book]. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor.

    Kubota, R., & Abels, K. (2006). Improving institutional ESL/EAP support for international students: Seeking the promised land. In P. K. Matsuda, C. Ortmeier-Hooper, & X. You (Eds.), The politics of second language writing: In search of the promised land (pp. 75-93) [Electronic book]. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor.

    Matsuda, P. K. (2006a). The myth of linguistic homogeneity in U.S. college composition. College English , 68(6), 637-651.

    Matsuda, P. K. (2006b) Second-language writing in the twentieth century: A situated historical perspective. In P. K. Matsuda, M. Cox, J. Jordan, & C. Ortmeier-Hooper (Eds.), Second-language writing in the composition classroom: A critical sourcebook (pp. 14-30). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s. (Reprinted from Exploring the dynamics of second language writing , pp. 15-34, by B. Kroll, Ed., 2003, New York: Cambridge UP, in cooperation with the National Council of Teachers of English)

    Phillips, T., Stewart, C., & Stewart, R. D. (2006). Geography lessons, bridge-building, and second language writers. Writing Program Administration, 30(1/2), 83-100.

    Denise Alvarez served as an adjunct faculty member from 2004 to 2006 and as coordinator of writing support for international students in fall 2007 at Davidson College.

    Shireen Campbell is a professor of English and the Writing Center director at Davidson College.

    From Narrative to Expository: A Revision Technique for Developing Writers

    Duane Leonard, University of California, Davis,

    As an instructor of freshman ESL writing, I am often given first drafts that, instead of responding in an expository manner, tell me a story. I understand why my students would tell me such a story, and often enjoy reading stories of their experiences. However, as their writing instructor preparing them for future university-level writing I also must “correct” their work. I struggle with this. In the past it has seemed as if I was not valuing their life histories and was telling them to completely redo a first draft. My struggle to provide revision suggestions by which they could reshape their stories into a more expository form has resulted in the following lesson [1].

    Building the Context [2]

    First, when going over writing revisions, I feel it is important to help the students develop an awareness of genre. Contrasting narrative and expository genres is the way I try to raise this awareness. In Mary Schleppegrell’s (2004) book, The Language of Schooling , she outlined what she calls “Grammatical Features Functional for Expository Writing” (p. 94).

    I also present this to students using a theme/rheme division of some of their paragraphs. The idea of theme/rheme stems from systemic functional linguistics, but is more concisely worded by Locke (1996), where theme is “the jumping off point” of the clause and the rheme is “everything else” (p. 222). I feel dividing up sentences is a more accessible way into this approach than dividing up each clause. I redefine theme/rheme as “everything up to, and including, the focal noun” and the rheme as “everything else” [3], as shown in Figure 2. While my version of a theme/rheme resembles a “subject/predicate” sentence division (see Theme A in Figure 2), a theme/rheme division is more flexible in that it allows for multiple “subjects” (see Theme B in Figure 2).

    Modeling and Deconstructing the Context

    Next, it is important to go over a model text. Normally I would first go over a model that correctly uses the expected grammatical resources for the target genre. Here, I present a first-draft paragraph that used a mostly narrative genre to answer this prompt:

    “Based on your experiences and observations, write an essay in which you discuss several environmental factors, which, in your opinion, have a significant effect on new immigrants to the U.S.”

    As a reader, I would expect development of an “environmental factor” in a student’s response for this response to fulfill the task requirements.

    Student Essay: Draft One

    The immigrant would want to fit into the society; it is a psychological feeling that is the by product of the new environment. People would experience it when they move to a different place; it could be as small as a student going to a new school or a family move to a different place; it could be as small as a student going to a new school or a family move to a different country. When people go to a different environment such as a new school, they want to fit in and be accepted by people, so they would start to watch sport that is popular to the local so they would have same topic to talk about or dress that is accepted to the neighborhood so they won’t stand out. People would go through changes just by switch school, imagine immigrant that move to a different country that speaks a different language and is a minority. They would try to fit in as much as possible to the melting pot in America. The most common change in the immigrant is change name, like change I-lung to John or Li-Fen to Maggie, regardless of their real name the new name, as we call it the “English name: will be the one other people will know. The immigrant concealed their true identity form other people and when it comes to the second generation, the English name will become the real name in the birth certificate, hence lose many valuable tradition or culture aspect this way.

    While this approach creates a text that is harder to read than in normal prose form, that is part of the point. Implicitly, the above paragraph is a rich response and I can infer many appropriate responses to the question asked. The key here is to show students how to make those ideas explicit and use them to move their argument forward. This approach forces students to “read” differently; rather than reading for comprehension, students now are reading for patterns that they will analyze. I have bolded the key points I will discuss. First, it is clear from this division that “the immigrant” is in the majority of the theme positions; this is a story of how an immigrant reacts to his or her new environment. Second, it is clear that the majority of verbs used are “action” type verbs (bolded in Figure 3: lose, concealed, would try to fit in, speaks, move to ), verbs that we might expect in a story. The result of this approach, in the student’s analysis (final sentences), is that the fault seems to lie with the immigrant for his or her loss; the “loss” comes as a result of a series of choices the immigrant has made to “fit in.”

    Joint Construction of the Text

    After analyzing the above text, we learn that this author has drawn more from the narrative genre than the expository genre in constructing a response. Students are quick to see this, especially with the theme/rheme division, and to note that an “environmental factor” should be the focus of this paragraph. At this point, I would have the students jointly try to reconstruct the initial paragraph, but to use an “environmental factor” to move the argument along. As a class, we could compare their responses to see how they are more expository than the original but maintain the “integrity” of the original.

    Independent Construction of the Text

    At this stage, students can then return to their first drafts, find paragraphs that are more narrative than expository, and apply what we have done in class to their next draft. It is key at this point that the teacher’s feedback explicitly directs students to such paragraphs. As the sample I am using was reworked independently, I included it in this section of the text-based revision process.

    Student Essay: Revised Draft

    This approach now highlights how the student has shifted from “the immigrant” in the theme position to “the environment” [4]—an abstract idea rather than a character now moves the argument forward. Because the author now has an idea in the theme position, a shift in verbs is necessary as well. These new verbs (bolded in Figure 4: oblige, might not want to change, have to change, would be more extensive, is changing, would be name[d], makes people conceal ) highlight exactly what the prompt is looking for—” how the environmental factor affects new immigrants.” In fact, further discussion could note that this author’s choice of verbs demonstrates an unequal relationship between the immigrant and his or her new environment. Finally, by focusing on the abstract idea of “the environment” and developing an explicit answer to the prompt, the author is able to explicitly offer the keen analysis he does in his final sentences.

    Linking Related Texts

    This approach is a very visual way to invite students into a comparative analysis between the narrative and expository genres, developing their awareness that there are different genres and different resources within each genre. Though there is not enough space here to elaborate, this theme/rheme division also highlights many of the grammatical resources employed; this division thus easily lends to a focus on applying grammar in context (e.g., subject verb agreement, adverbial clauses, and much more). Also, this approach helps with students’ ability to read genres, to see what abstract ideas are moving any writer’s argument forward. And, finally, this theme/rheme approach highlights the flexibility of grammatical choices. Through this discussion they are able to see how malleable a genre is and how important certain resources actually are. Instead of viewing writing and grammar as restrictive processes outside their grasp, by using successful textual models, students see how such grammatical resources can be supportive resources to draw from in their own revision process.


    Feez, S. (2002). Text-based syllabus design . Sydney: Macquarie University.

    Locke, G. (1996). Functional English grammar: An introduction for language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Schleppegrell, M. (2004). The language of schooling . Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.


    [1] Adapted from my CATESOL presentation of the same title. Many thanks to my very supportive audience.

    [2] “Building the Context” is the first of five text-based stages of lesson planning. From Feez’ Text-Based Syllabus Design (2002).

    [3] I have taken teacher liberties in changing students’ text where I feel new sentences “should” start.

    [4] It has to be noted here that the student is still not focused on an “environmental factor,” the key point from the prompt that we would expect the student to be focusing on. However, here the student does not need to make a shift in genre. The correction here need only be a word choice correction. For example, a substitution of “social pressures” for “the environment” would make the student’s meaning more explicit and would only change a noun for a noun rather than more the complicated syntax shifts we see between drafts.

    Duane Leonard is currently working on his dissertation, an ethnographic view of the academic writing development of nonnative English writers. He teaches nonnative English writers at the freshman level of college and is constantly looking for innovative ways to raise students’ awareness of the power of writing.

    2008 Symposium on Second Language Writing: “Principles and Practices in Foreign Language Writing Instruction”

    Tony Cimasko, Purdue University, ; Melinda Reichelt, University of Toledo, MREICHE@UTNet.UToledo.Edu ; Jihyun Im, Purdue University, ; and Beril Tezeller Arik, Purdue University,

    The 2008 Symposium on Second Language Writing was held June 5-7 at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The theme of this year's symposium, “Principles and Practices in Foreign Language Writing Instruction,” attracted a diverse array of scholars from North America, East Asia, North Africa, Eastern and Western Europe, and the Middle East. The symposium featured keynote sessions by Melinda Reichelt of the University of Toledo, Marcela Ruiz-Funes of East Carolina University, Rosa Manchón of the Universidad de Murcia, Jean Marie Schultz of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Icy Lee of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Complementing these keynote presentations were 10 additional sessions devoted to foreign language writing. Together, these presenters looked at a variety of issues in English as a foreign language (EFL) and in other foreign languages (FLs), contributing greatly to an examination of concerns that are often eclipsed by ESL concerns.

    Across EFL-based and FL-based presentations, many of the symposium presenters focused a great deal of attention on sociolinguistic concerns, giving audience members an understanding of the contexts in which their work has taken place, a vital prerequisite for understanding FL writing. A few of the presenters devoted time to discussing broader regional and national sociolinguistic contexts. Other presentations worked within the tighter framework of a particular university’s requirements, preferences, and practices. Pedagogical success in FL writing was seen in many of the circumstances offered here, but there were also important lessons and warnings offered in stories of instructor difficulties, curricula that did not match the particular FL needs of students, and outdated regulations.

    Despite the common themes present in the symposium, the range of topics and regions covered by the speakers demonstrated the vast diversity present in FL instruction and research today.

    Keynote I

    The main symposium program commenced with a keynote address by Melinda Reichelt entitled “Foreign Language Writing: An Overview.” In her address, Reichelt began by giving an overview of the published literature on FL writing. She noted that much of the FL writing literature focuses on North America and Asia; some on Europe; and little on South America and Africa. Most, she said, investigates writing at the tertiary level. Reichelt also indicated that the FL writing literature includes pedagogical works, works that are primarily theoretical in nature, and empirical research, which includes investigations of FL writers’ texts; FL writers’ perceptions, processes, and strategies; the effects on FL writing of various classroom procedures; individual differences among writers; and contexts in which FL writing is undertaken. Reichelt noted that the methods used in the published research include text analysis; think-aloud protocols; interviews and questionnaires; participant observation; reflection; analysis of videotaped writing sessions; use of software programs that track composing and revision; and examination of reading and writing logs. She indicated that the Journal of Second Language Writing publishes the most articles on FL writing, but Foreign Language Annals , Modern Language Journal , and System also publish significant numbers of FL writing articles. Otherwise, FL writing articles are scattered in a broad range of journals, including language and linguistics journals, educational journals, and journals that focus on teaching English as an L2. The annotated bibliographies appearing at the end of each issue of the Journal of Second Language Writing , she noted, provide a convenient way of tracking the FL writing literature.

    On the basis of her own empirical research into FL writing as well as an examination of the literature, Reichelt argued that the following factors shape FL writing instruction around the world: the role and status of the language in the broader teaching environment; students’ purposes for learning the language; economic, historical, and political factors; and local educational practices, including practices related to FL teaching and L1 literacy instruction. Reichelt outlined how these factors shape FL writing instruction in Germany, Poland, the United States, China, Ukraine, Turkey, and Italy. For example, in Germany, EFL writing instruction at the secondary level is influenced by an educational emphasis on close, critical reading of texts and on engaging with social and political issues, as well as by L1 writing pedagogy. In Poland, FL writing instruction is influenced by a perceived need to improve FL proficiency, including writing skills, in order to compete in the European Union. In the United States, there is often less motivation and emphasis on foreign languages than in many other countries because of the role of English as a world language, along with other geographical and political factors. Therefore, FL instruction in the United States often occurs at beginner or near-beginner levels, even in colleges and universities, and there may be problems with student motivation and with identifying specific writing needs beyond the classroom.

    Reichelt concluded her address with a list of questions for attendees to consider during the remainder of the symposium, including questions about appropriate roles and purposes for writing in the FL curriculum; the role of local educational factors and rhetorical practices in shaping FL writing instruction; how teacher education programs should prepare future FL writing instructors; and what directions future FL writing research should take.

    Session A, Day One

    Following the opening keynote, the first panel began with Rachida Elqobai’s presentation, “EFL in the Moroccan Educational System: The Whys and Hows.” Elqobai described the complex sociolinguistic context of Morocco, noting the roles played by Berber, English, Arabic, Spanish, and French in education and the broader society, which complicate the teaching of EFL writing in Morocco. She noted that official guidelines for teaching English are up-to-date but that the following problems prevent these guidelines from being implemented: a reduced number of classroom hours, inadequate teaching materials, no technology, large class sizes, and lack of teacher preparation. Elqobai indicated that few or no individual writing classes exist for non-English majors and that students’ writing proficiency is very low. She argued that instructors should take into account Moroccan writers’ sociolinguistic background and goals when implementing English-language writing instruction, and that classroom tasks need to be more communicative and to focus on writing to learn.

    Where Elqobai’s work focused on one side of the FL coin—English outside Anglophone countries—Yukiko Abe Hatasa brought the focus to the other half of FL, non-English languages taught outside of their first language contexts, in “L2 Writing Instruction in Japanese as a Foreign Language.” In American colleges and universities, FL writing instruction must often compete with oral language instruction for attention, and the Japanese as a foreign language (JFL) program is no exception. Like EFL in Morocco, JFL programs in the United States must contend with the particular learning context, learner needs, and instructional goals in which they are situated. Hatasa explained that academic JFL writing faces its own challenges: a language that differs substantially from English and other Western languages, a linguistic approach to the nonacademic writing instruction that takes place, and greater importance placed in being able to read, but with responses to those texts done in English instead of Japanese. Most learners take JFL courses for personal cultural exploration or for resume development, not for long-term Japanese-based academic work. In addition to this, many native and nonnative Japanese instructors lack the written rhetorical knowledge to teach JFL writing. Within this context, however, JFL instructors have been working to incorporate more process approaches and to expand writing instruction by associating it with conversational activities.

    Keynote II

    The second keynote address, delivered by Marcela Ruiz-Funes , was entitled “Reading to Write in a Foreign Language: Cognition and Task Representation.” To supply the theoretical framework for the information in her presentation, Ruiz-Funes drew on the results of reading-writing research conducted by Linda Flower (L1) and Joan Carson and Ilona Leki (L2). Ruiz-Funes provided an overview of cognition in reading-to-write in an FL, emphasizing the importance of task representation in this complex process. In her own study, FL Spanish student writers in the United States were instructed to write a paper based on a literary selection, analyzing the changes experienced by a character in the story. Ruiz-Funes found that students adopted three possible representations of this task: three interpreted it as a summary task, six as a summary-plus-comment task, and five as an interpretation with a rhetorical purpose. Students who wrote summary-plus-comment texts produced the most grammatically accurate and syntactically complex writing.

    Session B, Day One

    Continuing the symposium presenters’ dedication to providing sociolinguistic profiles of FL education programs, Hadara Perpignan’s presentation, “Ideas Into Words: Narrowing the Gap in Doctoral Candidates’ Academic Writing in EFL,” described EFL academic writing at the PhD level at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and the pedagogical choices she made in response to those sociolinguistic realities. Perpignan described a very clear disassociation between L1 and EFL in Israeli universities: L1 Hebrew is overwhelmingly the language of instruction, with English as “a concession, not an integral part” of communication. Although rich EFL writing is the goal of the university program, the program’s practices are based on the norms of composition for native speakers instead; because of this disconnect, students are often labeled “deficient,” which demonstrates a need to craft more appropriate EFL curricula. Perpignan’s response was to create a curriculum that recognizes the students’ positions as EFL learners, their status as peripheral—rather than central—participants in an academic discourse community, and the need for improvements in English that are more realistic than “perfect” native-like English. Students identify their own project topics and are provided with ample revision process and feedback opportunities. Under this mode of instruction, students are able to regularly reflect on their own writing, feedback, and the writing of “authentic,” published texts, increasing their measurable gains as well as their sense of accomplishment and motivation.

    In her presentation entitled “Teaching EFL Writing in Brazil: Issues and Possibilities,” Luciana C. de Oliveira drew on her own experiences as a student in the Brazilian education system. She described the complexities of the sociolinguistic situation in Brazil, a country with over 200 living languages, and gave an overview of the language education policies that have influenced FL writing instruction there. De Oliveira noted that access to English instruction is, for the most part, a luxury of the upper class and that a lack of English proficiency limits an individual’s access to the best careers. De Oliveira noted that very little if any English-language writing instruction occurs in Brazil in elementary or secondary schools, but that university faculty are required to publish in English. De Oliveira described the EFL writing instruction that takes place in higher education, as well as the principles underlying it.

    Session C, Day One

    In Natalie Lefkowitz’s presentation, “Writing the Wrongs: Foreign and Heritage Language Instructors’ Quest for Accuracy,” the focus turned toward the less frequently discussed matter of pedagogical practices and attitudes. Based in a U.S. university, her ethnographic study examined writing instructors working with both native and nonnative speaking students in FL and heritage language settings. Across the target languages in her study, Lefkowitz identified a high degree of similarity among instructors’ experiences: little formal education, especially in writing concerns; time constraints on their ability to engage meaningfully with student writing; and other regulations standing in the way of instructor growth. These factors have led to what is described as a “superheroic quest for accuracy” in language instruction, feedback on writing that is limited to error treatment, and, unfortunately, negative attitudes toward students. Although some positive attitudes continue to be found, many teachers comment primarily on “very poor performance in spite of correction” and feelings of intimidation on the part of instructors when working with more experienced language users. In such an environment, students rate their own abilities in the target languages as low. Lefkowitz’s closing comments touched on changes in teacher preparation and resources necessary to make the obvious changes demanded by such circumstances.

    In sharp contrast to the circumstances described by Lefkowitz, Hui-Tzu Min’s “A Principled Eclectic Approach to Teaching EFL Writing in Taiwan” presented a highly successful, critically oriented EFL writing curriculum in Taiwan, one that was informed by the work of Kumaravadivelu (2006). The approach was described as one in which multiple, local, and critical practices take the place of universalist strategies. Kumaravadivelu’s macrostrategic framework features three key components: particularity, practicality , and possibility . The first point, particularity , is realized in the adaptation of mainstream L2 writing pedagogies to Taiwanese students through recognition of their specific social and textual circumstances, while practicality is manifested in new practices that are unique to the students and their circumstances.

    The third element, possibility , is carried out by the goal of helping students critically examine their social and historical conditions, and to make informed choices. It is this point that Min illustrated during the presentation, in an example taken from one of her classes. Many students, although demonstrating declarative knowledge about the need for thesis statements in their English writing, did not incorporate thesis statements into their texts. In response to this and after providing proceduralized instruction on creating thesis statements, Min asked her students to reflect upon the advantages and disadvantages of such statements. Although the students concluded that such statements were prescriptive and redundant, they also concluded that using them was an effective way of engaging with Taiwanese writers and for writers to monitor their own writing, as well as being a time saver in the context of their writing course. After this exercise, thesis statements appeared far more frequently in their assignments.

    Keynote III

    The final day of the symposium began with a keynote address by Rosa Manchón of the Universidad de Murcia and the new coeditor of the Journal of Second Language Writing . In “The Language Learning Potential of Writing in Foreign Language Contexts: Lessons From Research,” Manchón explored the potential instrumental role of writing in the FL language learning experience. Her review of the cumulative empirical evidence highlighted these benefits to language learners:

  • A noticing function that allows learners to monitor their own output, and to focus their attention on input,
  • A hypothesis testing function that allows learners to judge their own production, and
  • A metalinguistic function that “forces the learner to pay attention to the means of expression needed in order to successfully convey his or her own intended meaning.” (Swain, 1985)

    Despite the benefits that these functions provide to L2 writers in both their writing and their overall language development, Manchón was quick to point out that these benefits are not automatic. The only way to realize them is through instructor guidance and monitoring, through comments, conferencing, and scaffolding provided to peer collaboration.

    Session A, Day Two

    The symposium turned to Eastern Europe in Oleg Tarnopolsky’s presentation, “Teaching English Writing in Ukraine: Principles and Practices.” Tarnopolsky argued that in the Ukraine, teaching EFL writing involves two main goals: teaching writing techniques (spelling, punctuation, etc.) and teaching writing skills. Most Ukrainian students, he argued, need to learn to do “practical” writing (including writing business and personal letters, CVs, summaries of professional literature they read, and business contracts) rather than “academic” writing (including writing essays, reports, and articles). With these factors in mind, Tarnopolsky outlined 12 principles for teaching EFL writing in the Ukraine. He noted, for example, that learning to write should be integrated with learning other language skills. He also argued that teachers should not wait to introduce instruction in writing skills until after students have developed writing techniques; instead, writing techniques and writing skills should be learned in tandem. Tarnopolsky also advocated broad use of technology in teaching writing, combining cooperative and individual learning, and focusing on enhancing students’ motivation for writing.

    The relationship between writing and other language skills featured prominently in Helga Thorson’s presentation, “Student Perceptions of Writing As a Tool for Increasing Oral Proficiency in German.” In it, she described the role of writing in FL conversation courses, especially its role in increasing oral proficiency. Thorson overviewed her own research in university-level German courses, focusing on student perceptions of the role of writing in increasing oral production. She found that students in her second-year conversation course (but not the third-year course) increased their rankings of writing as a tool for increasing oral proficiency from the beginning to the end of the semester. Furthermore, students in both classes tended to rank free writing and journal writing (writing activities that tended to focus on getting thoughts down on paper) higher than essay writing or group writing projects—and by the end of the semester, students in the second-year course increased their rankings for journal writing (after 10 weeks of writing in their dialogue journals) whereas students in the third-year conversation course tended to see all writing assignments as equally beneficial.

    Keynote IV

    Jean Marie Schultz presented the fourth keynote address, entitled “Second Language Writing in the Era of Globalization,” turning away from specific national and institutional contexts and giving attention to cross-border concerns. Schultz argued that the effects of globalization should cause an increased emphasis on FL learning but that the role of English as lingua franca around the world problematizes the teaching of other foreign languages. With this paradoxical situation in mind, she posed questions regarding the role of (non-English) FL writing and FL writing instruction within the context of globalization. She argued that FL literacy instruction should have both an outward focus and an inward focus. The outward focus of FL literacy instruction, she indicated, should be situated in the sociolinguistic context of the FL in question, and the inward focus should deal with questions of personal identity (e.g., a bilingual identity).

    Session B, Day Two

    The symposium turned away from English and English-using countries in Kees van Esch’s presentation, “Writing in Spanish As a FL in Nijmegen: In Search of a Balance.” Van Esch described the challenges for writers of Spanish as a FL in the Netherlands, including that students’ secondary education does not focus significantly on writing instruction and that FL writing instruction emphasizes linguistic rather than rhetorical aspects of writing. After providing the theoretical background on which his program’s writing instruction is based, van Esch outlined the content of the program. Four 7-week periods each focus on a central theme: Spanish society, young people, Spanish America, and immigration. Students are introduced to various aspects of academic writing, including text structures and argumentation strategies, and receive teacher and peer feedback before revising their writing. Van Esch indicated that further analysis of the program is needed, but initial results are encouraging: Student attitudes are positive, and teachers perceive that student texts have improved.

    Wenyu Wang of Nanjing University gave the last session panel presentation of the day, entitled “Teaching Academic Writing to Advanced EFL Learners in China: Principles and Challenges.” Wang began by quoting Zinsser (1994)—“Writing is hard work”—but contradicted this statement by claiming that “Writing isn’t the hardest thing . . . teaching writing is!” In Wang’s classroom, this is particularly true, with 30 undergraduates each semester who have no previous systematic training in writing. Wang went on to detail three particular issues that have arisen among these students. The first, rhetorical problems, includes lack of clear thesis statements, “middle-of-the-road” positions, and overgeneralization; in addressing these, Wang asks a single question: “Are they contrastive rhetoric problems, problems of low language proficiency, or problems of thinking?” The second problem, plagiarism, is confronted by routinely asking whether the plagiarism is intentional, and if it is, what is motivating it—but in all cases, preferring prevention to punishment. Finally, error treatment provides Wang with the danger of not only overtreating but also confronting self-doubts about her own treatments, borne of her status as a nonnative writer of English. Wang’s commitment to process- and genre-based teaching approaches to L2 writing instruction are important in helping her to avoid prescriptivism and to be flexible in dealing with the unique challenges that each EFL group presents.

    Keynote V

    The closing keynote presentation of the symposium, entitled “Issues and Challenges in Teaching and Learning EFL Writing: The Case of Hong Kong,” was given by Icy Lee of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Lee began the presentation with a brief and humorous geography and news quiz about Hong Kong, before going into depth about the current status of English in postcolonial Hong Kong: The language is increasingly becoming an FL and there is a resulting drop in perceived English standards, even as English continues to command a high market value. In such a setting, people with a good command of written English are increasingly at a premium, making it necessary to explore why English writing is failing to meet societal expectations, despite attempts at teacher improvement.

    Keeping with the sociolinguistic theme of the presenters, Lee examined the problems and concerns students and teachers face that arise from their context. The answers emerging from her study also suggest many of the other contextual factors encountered by other FL instructors in other settings:

  • Few meaningful outlets exist for using the target language : Since 1998, mother-tongue-based teaching has been mandated in Hong Kong, making English less relevant. Despite this, the government still sees English as a second language and continues to pursue pre-handover policies.
  • Writing is a chore : Students usually see writing in any language as something only worth doing for a grade, and a mechanical exercise dominated by accuracy concerns.
  • Students do not read : Reading is quite likely to improve writing, but reading is not something students do in their free time.
  • Assessment is paramount : Instructors are required to devote more time to assessment than to improving writing.

    Lee found that she could have the strongest effect through working with student teachers and changing their relationship to English to one of meaningful self-expression. Blogs, including “Food for Thought” ( have given her MA students a chance to share personal and professional reflections. Wikis, online feedback, FL software, and other technological tools have been introduced to her student teachers. She has also encouraged her MA students to conduct more research into the specifics of Hong Kong English. In her conclusion, Lee cast some light on directions that FL in Hong Kong and elsewhere need to take in order to flourish: more explicit instruction, a greater investment of time, and more relevance to local circumstances.

    Closing Thoughts

    In the past several decades, research into L2 writing has increased exponentially, but most of this research has focused on writing in English as a second language. In contrast, the phenomenon of writing in foreign language contexts has not featured prominently in the research agenda, despite the fact that a great deal of FL writing occurs around the world in various contexts. The 2008 Symposium on Second Language Writing contributed to the process of addressing this imbalance in the L2 writing literature by bringing together people who research and/or teach writing in various foreign languages around the world. These speakers provided information about FL writing instruction in a broad range of contexts, each with its own complex set of sociolinguistic and institutional factors that shape writing instruction in each setting.

    Extending the Discussion

    By providing a venue for concentrated discussion of FL writing issues, the symposium organizers and presenters hoped that a clear research agenda for FL writing would begin to develop and that a support network for FL writing research and instruction would be created. With this in mind, several questions suggested by Reichelt in her keynote address and by other presenters are important for extending the conversation about FL writing beyond the symposium:

    1. What role should writing play in the overall FL curriculum, and how much time should be devoted to FL writing instruction? What constitute appropriate purposes for students writing in FLs, especially in contexts where students’ real-life needs for FL writing are not immediately obvious?

    2. In FL writing instruction, what should be the role of local educational values, practices, and rhetorics?

    3. How should L2 teacher education programs prepare future teachers for teaching FL writing?

    4. Is it feasible for FL writing to be a unified discipline, given the fact that those interested in FL writing work in a range of geographical, institutional, and departmental environments, and publish in a broad range of venues?

    5. If so, what directions should FL writing research pursue? Which issues should be investigated, which research methodologies are most appropriate, and how can the field of FL writing form a community to support an emerging research agenda?

    6. How can FL writing research draw on related disciplines like linguistics, SLA, ESL composition, and L1 composition without being limited or overly determined by them?

    Final Thoughts

    The associate chairs and the chairs of the Graduate Student Conference offered these closing comments about the symposium:

    “I think that having this year’s symposium focus on FL writing was an excellent way to bring this somewhat neglected topic to the forefront. It was especially important to bring together people interested in EFL writing and people interested in writing in other FLs. I know of no other venue where these groups can meet to discuss FL writing in such an intensive way. We were able to explore the features that FL writing instruction shares in different contexts—and discuss how it differs from setting to setting. I was especially interested to hear about the diverse sociolinguistic contexts in which FL writing is taught and the various forms that FL writing instruction takes on in those contexts.”

    “I really appreciated the format of the symposium, which allowed all participants to hear all of the same presentations over the course of 2 days. I think this common experience will provide impetus and directions for future FL writing research and theory building. I am hoping that this year’s focus on FL writing will inspire people to propose interesting presentations on FL writing for the 2009 symposium.”

    “Reflecting back on the symposium, I am impressed by the diversity of the presenters, topics, approaches, and contexts of L2 writing instruction represented in the symposium. So, for me, the symposium was an excellent opportunity to have a glimpse at the scope of the field, which looks much broader to me after attending the presentations on different FL contexts. I think that by celebrating the heterogeneity in L2 writing instruction and by encouraging interaction among FL researchers and between FL and SL scholars, the symposium made an important contribution to the field. I believe we have much to learn from each other and the symposium provided an excellent opportunity to do this. Also, seeing the differences as well as the similarities between language contexts is an important step toward a deeper and broader understanding of L2 writing instruction. I hope that the symposium, with its focus on FL contexts, will improve the imbalance between SL and FL in terms of representation, participation, and especially theory construction.”

    “A conference on FL writing is a long-overdue contribution to the field of L2 writing as a whole. While our insights into L2 writing have grown substantially over the course of several decades, most of those insights have come from SL writing in English language contexts. A fuller understanding of L2 writing requires us to draw from other languages and from English in non-English language contexts. The symposium has been an important step in creating a more comprehensive perspective.”

    “There were two things that amazed me as a first-time participant in the SSLW. One was the diversity of topics under the given theme of principles and practices in foreign language writing instruction, addressing K-12, undergraduate, and graduate writers. The other was all the passionate presenters from all around the world who were consistently willing to share their perspectives and insights throughout the 3 days of the symposium. I believe this kind of heterogeneity inspires participants, and enables them to broaden and deepen their views of SL and FL writing. I am looking forward to seeing impressive presentations at the upcoming symposium at ASU next year, too.”

    The next Symposium on Second Language Writing is scheduled for November 5-7, 2009, at Arizona State University. The theme will be “The Future of Second Language Writing.” For more information, visit the symposium Web site at Find out more about the 2008 symposium and read Paul Matsuda’s reflections on his blog (


    Kumaravadivelu, B. (2006). Understanding language teaching: From method to postmethod . New York: Routledge.

    Swain, M. (1985). Communicative competence: Some roles of comprehensible input and comprehensible output activities. In S. Gass & C. Madden (Eds.), Input in second language acquisition (pp. 235-253). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

    Zinsser, W. (1994). On writing well: an informal guide to writing nonfiction (5th ed. ). New York: Harper Perennial.

    Tony Cimasko was an associate chair of the 7th Symposium on Second Language Writing. He is currently a PhD candidate at Purdue University, focusing on genre hybridity in the writing of L2 graduate students. His scholarship has been published in the Journal of Second Language Writing.

    Melinda Reichelt was an associate chair of the symposium. She is professor of English at the University of Toledo, where she coordinates the ESL writing program and teaches courses in TESOL and linguistics. She has published her work in various journals, including the Journal of Second Language Writing, World Englishes, Composition Studies, Issues in Writing, ELT Journal, Modern Language Journal, International Journal of English Studies, Foreign Language Annals, and WAC Journal. She is coauthor with Tony Silva and Colleen Brice of Annotated Bibliography of Scholarship in Second Language Writing: 1993-1997 (1999), published by Ablex.

    Jihyun Im was a cochair of the Symposium’s Graduate Student Conference. She is currently an MA student at Purdue University and is interested in SLA, World Englishes, and the introduction of writing centers to the colleges and universities of Expanding Circle countries.

    Beril Tezeller Arik was a cochair of the Symposium’s Graduate Student Conference, and she is currently an MA student in the ESL program at Purdue University. She was also an assistant chair of the 2008 TESOL Graduate Student Forum. She previously was an EFL tutor for children in Turkey, and is now a first-year composition instructor at Purdue University. Her major interests are social and cognitive aspects of SLA, discourse analysis, and sociolinguistics.

    2008 Symposium on Second Language Writing: Graduate Student Conference

    Tony Cimasko, Purdue University, ; Melinda Reichelt, University of Toledo, MREICHE@UTNet.UToledo.Edu ; Jihyun Im, Purdue University, ; Beril Tezeller Arik, Purdue University,

    As the traditional starting point for the Symposium on Second Language Writing, the Graduate Student Conference (GSC) was held on June 5. Beyond bringing the next generation of second language writing scholars together, the GSC aimed to provide opportunities and an encouraging atmosphere for graduate students to present their research, to receive feedback from peers and established scholars, and to have a glimpse of the future of the field.

    This year, around 50 graduate students presented their work on a broad range of topics. The presenters were from both doctoral and master’s programs, and came not only from all over the United States—Purdue University, Arizona State University, University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the University of Texas at Austin, just to name a few—but also from universities around the world, such as Nanjing University in China, the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Yuan Ze University in Taiwan, the University of Warwick in England, and the University of Melbourne. In line with the theme of the symposium, some of the foreign language (FL) contexts presented in the GSC included Korea, China, India, Japan, Taiwan, Turkey, Israel, United Kingdom, and Australia, and the languages other than English represented at the GSC included Chinese, Korean, and Spanish.

    While the theme of the symposium this year was “Principles and Practices in Foreign Language Writing Instruction,” the presentations at the GSC were not limited to it; the topics covered a wide range of interests and topics in second language writing, such as instruction, feedback, social perspectives, research concerns, assessment, and evaluation. The diverse topics covered by the graduate student conference included first-year composition classrooms, teaching L2 writing in K-12, interactions between other skills and writing, peer review, the effects of L1 on L2 writing, genre theory, the challenges faced by nonnative English speakers, sociocultural issues, feedback, plagiarism, writing centers, use of technology in the writing classroom, vocabulary and L2 writing, and historical perspectives, among others. (For a complete list of presenters and presentation titles, visit

    Issues related to instruction, such as first-year ESL writing, plagiarism, and writing centers, were examined in several presentations. For example, Jaisree Jayaraman shared her experience as a tutor in a writing center. In her presentation, “Tutoring ESL Writers in the Writing Center: How to Avoid the Proofreading Trap,” she pointed out that writing center tutors often fall into the predicament of editing and proofreading the tutees’ work, instead of focusing on improving their writing skills when working with ESL writers in one-on-one tutorials. After addressing several reasons for this, she suggested practical strategies that could be implemented right away such as beginning with clarification of objectives and working dynamics of the tutorial, looking for any error patterns in the paper, and explaining the rules behind corrections to facilitate deductive learning and self-correction by the tutee.

    Feedback was one of the more popular topics at the GSC, which included presentations by Rachel Hansen and K. James Hartshorn. Helena Hall’s presentation, “Feedback: A Tricky Matter,” drew attention to the feedback two ESL composition teachers provided on their students’ papers. She explained that the students often had difficulties figuring out what they needed to do even though their teachers believed their feedback was easy to understand; therefore, students were not able to successfully revise their papers. With students’ papers as examples, Hall argued that writing instructors need to pay more attention to the feedback they provide and both give an explanation of what is wrong and also indicate how to fix the problem. Another presentation related to feedback was Chia-Ling Chen’s “Effects of the Use of Rubric Implemented for Peer Evaluation in EFL College Writing Class.” After pointing out the social nature of learning and the importance of collaborative learning, Chen reported the results of her research on Taiwanese students. Her research showed that as a result of rubrics and peer review, students do pay attention to the global features of writing as well as form, give specific feedback on the content, and help their peers to develop their ideas better in the revised draft.

    This year, some presenters showed a strong interest in nonnative English speakers in relation to second language writing. The presentation “Challenging the Native Speaker Myth in the ESL Writing Classroom: How Identity Shapes Practice” by Davis S. Reis received a lot of positive responses from the audience. He traced the development of an ESL writing teacher’s identity and explored how his beliefs influence his identity and practice. In his presentation, he argued that after challenging the native speaker fallacy himself, he used his instructional practice to empower his students to do the same. At the end of his presentation, he offered practical implications for teacher education and research. In his presentation, “The Social Impact of EFL Writing Instruction in Turkey,” John Hitz investigated ways in which the sociocultural, political, and economical profile of Turkey presents challenges for language education in Turkey. He added that, similar to many other countries, English remains a privilege for the wealthy in Turkey. Recognizing the restrictions of Turkish government for investing in education, such as the International Monetary Fund sanctions which restrict government spending, Hitz addressed the need for providing better composition instruction in Turkish writing and reconsidering the purpose and implications of offering most or all classes in English.

    Along with presentations on instruction, feedback, and sociocultural perspectives, presentations by Ricky Lam, Houxiang Li, Mei-Hsing Tsai, and others focused on evaluation and assessment. In the presentation, “Dialogue Journal As a Site for Dynamic Assessment: A Preliminary Study,” Sungwoo Kim introduced Dynamic Assessment (DA), an approach to education that aims to tear down the traditional dichotomy between instruction and assessment. Mentioning its usefulness and potential as a way to integrate teaching and assessment, he inquired into the applicability of DA to the typical dialogue journal situation by offering different types of mediation.

    Karen Power, on the other hand, followed a different approach and investigated the recent history of the field. In her presentation “First Generation L2 Composition Scholars: The Process Era,” Power looked into those scholars who paved the way to a more communicative composition instruction. Power underlined the need for knowing and writing the history of L2 composition in order to have a more mature field. After mentioning the challenges and difficulties of doing historical research, Power encouraged graduate students and scholars to do more historical research and showed her excitement about history in the making. Just as Power looked at the history of the field, Leslie Altena investigated the findings of a neighboring field, second language acquisition (SLA). In her presentation, “Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Writing,” Altena reported on part of her research study in which she attempted to implement and test the findings of SLA on providing feedback in teaching writing. Altena claimed that SLA-informed feedback might be useful for advanced students even though it is time consuming. According to her, SLA-informed feedback is useful for raising learners’ awareness by providing both attention to meaning and more input and output.

    It is hoped that the GSC inspired the next generation of second language writing specialists and offered them opportunities to share their interests, concerns, and insights on a great variety of topics. Following five concurrent sessions, all the presenters continued to exchange their opinions and questions in small group discussion sessions with assorted issues. The discussion was carried on in the social gathering after a full day of the conference, giving a preview of the future of second language writing.

    The next Symposium on Second Language Writing is scheduled for November 5-7, 2009, at Arizona State University. The theme will be “The Future of Second Language Writing.” For more information, visit the Symposium Web site at Find out more about the 2008 Symposium and read Paul Matsuda’s reflections on his blog (

    Tony Cimasko was an associate chair of the 7th Symposium on Second Language Writing. He is currently a PhD candidate at Purdue University, focusing on genre hybridity in the writing of L2 graduate students. His scholarship has been published in the Journal of Second Language Writing.

    Melinda Reichelt was an associate chair of the symposium. She is professor of English at the University of Toledo, where she coordinates the ESL writing program and teaches courses in TESOL and linguistics. She has published her work in various journals, including the Journal of Second Language Writing, World Englishes, Composition Studies, Issues in Writing, ELT Journal, Modern Language Journal, International Journal of English Studies, Foreign Language Annals, and WAC Journal. She is coauthor with Tony Silva and Colleen Brice of Annotated Bibliography of Scholarship in Second Language Writing: 1993-1997 (1999), published by Ablex.

    Jihyun Im was a cochair of the symposium’s Graduate Student Conference. She is currently an MA student at Purdue University and is interested in SLA, World Englishes, and the introduction of writing centers to the colleges and universities of Expanding Circle countries.

    Beril Tezeller Arik was a cochair of the symposium’s Graduate Student Conference, and she is currently an MA student in the ESL program at Purdue University. She was also an assistant chair of the 2008 TESOL Graduate Student Forum. She has previously been an EFL tutor for children in Turkey, and is now a first-year composition instructor at Purdue University. Her major interests are social and cognitive aspects of SLA, discourse analysis, and sociolinguistics.

    Book Review Book Review: Teaching Developmental Writing: Background Readings

    Marian Woyciehowicz Gonsior, Madonna University,

    Bernstein, S. N. (Ed.). (2007). Teaching Developmental Writing: Background Readings (3rd ed.) . Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 448 pp., paperback.

    Developmental, or basic, writing is part of the triad of traditional college writing programs: ESL, developmental writing, and first-year composition. Though students in these three areas might differ greatly, Teaching Developmental Writing: Background Readings (2007) editor Susan Naomi Bernstein believes that all writing teachers typically have the same concerns. We all ask ourselves, “How can we design courses that truly meet our students’ needs?” “How can we accommodate students with different learning styles?” and “How should we approach assessment at both the classroom and the institutional levels, and, perhaps most significant, how do these issues affect our day-to-day teaching?” (Bernstein, v). In response to these questions, Bernstein offers 33 readings, about one third of which appear for the first time in this edition. Among these new readings are recent studies on English language learners, with emphasis on Generation 1.5 (including an excerpt from Bernstein’s own research in this area). In fact, readers will find information on Generation 1.5 in nearly half the book’s chapters.

    To create a text expansive enough to serve both experienced and beginning teachers, Bernstein combines challenging readings with just enough explanatory material to make them accessible to new faculty members. The book opens with a brief preface, followed by an annotated contents section, where the book’s 14 chapters are listed along with abstracts for each of the readings. The introduction that follows provides an alternative table of contents, breaking the readings into six overlapping categories and showing the interconnectedness between different chapters. For instance, while chapter 12, “Teaching ESL and Generation 1.5 Students,” includes only two readings, the alternative table of contents entry for “English Language Learners: ESL, Generation 1.5, and Foreign Language Students” encompasses nearly a dozen readings spread throughout the text. The main body of the book includes an introduction to each chapter and headnotes for each reading. Each reading is followed by a “Classroom Activities” section, providing a way to instantly incorporate ideas from the reading into the classroom, and a “Thinking About Teaching” section, containing questions for reflective journaling.

    The writings Bernstein has chosen cover the gamut of scholarship on developmental writing, offering both germinal texts from the 1970s along with more recent scholarship. Looking at several key chapters indicates the breadth of the topics. Chapter 3, “Adapting the Writing Process,” contains a new entry by Ferris on the type of teacher feedback that works best for Generation 1.5 students. Also included in the chapter is a new excerpt from a case study by Gibson focusing on how a commitment to social justice informed her work helping a student revise an essay on homophobia. Chapter 10, “Technology,” also includes writings new to this edition. In one, Pavia offers suggestions for working with developmental writers whose access to computers is limited. In another reading, Cummings writes about the effects of using an online Computer-Mediated Communication course to teach writing to Japanese EFL students. Chapter 11, “Engaging Difference,” deals with cultural differences in the composition classroom. These readings focus on the impact that different language and cultural backgrounds have on developmental writers, with classic readings from Anzaldúa (Spanish/Chicano), Jordan (Black English), and Thurston (Navajo). Chapter 12, “Teaching ESL and Generation 1.5 Students,” includes Dong’s research on using student literacy autobiographies to learn more about students as writers. Also featured is an excerpt from a longer study by Hartman and Tarone examining the gap between the writing a group of Generation 1.5 students produces in high school and what is expected of them in college.

    Certainly as a minor fault, it might be noted that although Bernstein states that strategies for working with Generation 1.5 students can be beneficial to writers whose first language is English, no mention is made that the opposite is not true. In fact, language difficulties experienced by Generation 1.5 students seem ill-served by placement in ESL, developmental writing, or regular composition classes (Harklau, Siegal, & Losey, 1999, p. 12). The point should be made that what they need is not more English instruction but more support across the curriculum. As Harklau, Siegal, and Losey have observed, “L2 learning is too protracted a process for it to take place entirely under the auspices of ESL or other college writing coursework” (p. 11).

    While Bernstein includes a remarkable collection of readings, which touch on a variety of topics, readers specifically interested in supporting English language learners might be better served by Matsuda, Cox, Jordan, and Ortmeier-Hooper’s Second-Language Writing in the Composition Classroom: A Critical Sourcebook (2006) or Harklau, Losey, and Siegel’s Generation 1.5 Meets College Composition: Issues in the Teaching of Writing to U.S.-Educated Learners of ESL (1999). However, Teaching Developmental Writing: Background Readings is recommended for those who desire a well-rounded picture of the important issues surrounding writing in the university. The selected readings and editor’s commentaries make it an essential book at a time when nothing less than “the entire structure and nature of writing instruction” (Harklau, Losey, & Siegel, 1999, p. 3) on college campuses is changing to reflect the changing student populations being served.


    Bernstein, S. N. (Ed.). (2007). Teaching developmental writing: Background readings (3rd ed.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

    Harklau, L., Siegal, M., & Losey, K. M. (1999). Linguistically diverse students and college writing: what is equitable and appropriate? In L. Harklau, K. M. Losey, & M. Siegal (Eds.), Generation 1.5 Meets College Composition: Issues in the Teaching of Writing to US-Educated Learners of ESL (pp. 1-14). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Matsuda, P. K., Cox, M., Jordan, J., & Ortmeier-Hooper, C. (Eds.). (2006). Second-language writing in the composition classroom: A critical sourcebook . Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

    Marian Woyciehowicz Gonsior is an adjunct assistant professor in the ESL program at Madonna University, Livonia, Michigan, USA.

    Brief Reports The Effectiveness of Corpus-Designed Activities in Academic Writing

    Gena Bennett, Independent Materials Writer, ; Meredith Bricker, Georgia State University, ; and Anne Bruehler, Indiana Wesleyan University,

    Corpus linguistics has expanded rapidly in the field of English language teaching in the past 20 years, and though much corpus research has presented findings on how language may better be understood and described, little advance has been made in how teachers may actually use corpus-designed activities in their classrooms or, more important, how effective these types of activities will be for language learning. This study will investigate the effectiveness of corpus-driven activities to address targeted grammar errors in academic writing.

    Research Question
    Do corpus-designed activities help students improve targeted grammar usage in academic writing?

    Targeted grammar errors were identified from a learner corpus created from draft essays. Corpus-designed activities based on results of the analysis of the learner corpus were then employed with students to address the targeted errors. Students wrote final essays that were analyzed to determine what, if any, improvements were made in applying the concepts covered in the corpus-designed activity.

    Instructor: One instructor with extensive corpus-design activity experience (also a researcher)

    Students: Four nonnative English speakers enrolled in freshman credit-bearing courses at a small, U.S. News and World Report highly ranked regional liberal arts college. The students, two male and two female, ranged in age from 19 to 21, were native speakers of Kenyarandan, spoke French fluently, and had a range of TOEFL scores from 520 to 570. Although the students studied English through primary and secondary school, before attending the college they had not visited an English-speaking country. All of the students are math majors attending the college on a scholarship funded dually through the college and their home country.

    Data Collection and Analysis
    Upon reading and discussing the novel Warriors Don’t Cry , students were assigned a short essay on one of the major themes of the novel. The draft essays were collected and tagged by all three researchers following the Error Tagging System in Table 1.

    The researchers then used TextSTAT 2.7 to analyze the frequency of errors and error types in the essays (see Table 2). Because comma usage was the most salient error type, commas were chosen as the basis for the corpus-designed activity. Concordance lines for each comma error were analyzed to determine the type of errors made. Three types of comma usage were the focus of the activity: use with coordinating conjunctions, use with subordinators, and use with transition words and phrases.

    Upon completing the activity in class, students revised their drafts and turned in a final essay. The final essays were again tagged by all three researchers following the Error Tagging System in Table 1 and analyzed using TextSTAT 2.7 for the frequency of errors and error types. See Table 2 for the results.

    While students made 15% fewer errors in leaving out a comma in the final essays than they did in the draft essays, they made 17% more errors in inserting a comma unnecessarily. Again, concordance lines for each comma error were analyzed to determine the type of errors; it was determined that the significant increase in the comma splice error was due to overcorrection.

    Informal feedback on student perception of the activity was also gathered. The students were shown the Draft Essays portion of Table 2 and were extremely interested to see what kind of errors they made. Students commented that they would like to do this type of activity with all the errors they made, and they especially liked looking at their own sentences in the activity.

    Significance of Study
    Results from this study help shed light on the effectiveness (and appeal) of corpus-designed activities on improving targeted grammar usage in academic writing. In future studies/activities, however, proper attention should be given to overcorrection.

    On the basis of this study, the researchers believe that a positive trend toward the effectiveness of corpus-designed activities in improving targeted grammar usage in academic writing is established. The results of this study warrant further research in this area.

    Further Information
    To receive a copy of the corpus-designed activity or for more information about the project, please contact the authors directly.

    Gena Bennett is a PhD student at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, as well as a freelance materials writer. Her research interests include classroom applications of corpus linguistics as well as applications of corpora to understanding and teaching second language writing.

    Meredith Bricker is a lecturer in the intensive English program at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to studying classroom applications of corpus linguistics, her research interests include student motivation and second language writing assessment.

    Anne Bruehler is an assistant professor of TESOL at Indiana Wesleyan University. She coordinates its undergraduate TESOL program and acts as primary teacher-trainer. Her research interests include the development and practices of international language teaching schools as well as teacher training in overseas contexts.

    CALL Column Corpus-Based Activities for Logical Connectors

    Lilian Farag Allah, Cairo University, Egypt,

    Data-driven learning (DDL) involves giving students opportunities to see for themselves how language is actually used by native speakers through corpus-based evidence. DDL relies in much of its rationale on work done in second language acquisition (SLA) because it is mainly an activity of raising awareness, or what is known as “noticing” in SLA (Hunston, 2002).


    Nesselhauf (2004) suggests a three-step method of introducing DDL in the classroom: preparing the corpus-based evidence by the teacher, examining data by students, and practicing the target feature.

    The teacher can use evidence from only a learner corpus, a native corpus, or both. The effective way is to use both types of corpora. this usage is that while learner corpora represent negative evidence, native corpora represent positive evidence; both are essential in learners’ acquisition of the target feature. Learner corpora are also a good source of students’ mistakes, which is useful when working with previously covered issues in class (Nesselhauf, 2004). Using learner corpora guarantees that the evidence is more relevant to students. Granger (as cited in Nesselhauf, 2004), on the other hand, suggested starting with the learner corpus, following it with the native one for consolidating the linguistic point.

    The teacher’s role should not stop at just preparing the evidence from corpora; the teacher should also be a facilitator while students are working with this evidence. This facilitating role can provide students with guiding comments and/or scaffolding questions as well as activities that utilize the feature under investigation (Hunston, 2002; Nesselhauf, 2004; Tanko, 2004).

    During the final phase of DDL, the teacher is ready with corpus-based, structured activities to help students practice and consolidate the item. If these activities are carefully designed, they can be not just of tremendous help to students but also highly motivating as well because they are more authentic than textbook activities.

    DDL Activities on Therefore and However
    The DDL activities below were designed as a result of a study that analyzed 27 argumentative essays written by students in the American University in Cairo. Students, who were all second language (L2) learners, were enrolled in an argumentative core-curriculum course. The essays were compiled into a corpus that was later analyzed for two of the commonly used logical connectors in argumentative writing: therefore and however . The results of the analysis were compared against a native speaker corpus, FROWN (Freiburg-Brown Corpus on American English), in order to know whether L2 learners used the two connectors under investigation in a native-like manner.

    Findings of the study showed that L2 learners overused therefore at the expense of other connectors of the same type. Students also underused however in medial position, compared with the native speaker corpus. This underuse of however was accompanied by the use of incorrect punctuation marks. These findings mean that students in this study suffered from the same problems previously reported in other studies in this regard: overuse, underuse, and misuse (Khuwaileh & Al Shoumali, 2000; Tanko, 2004).

    The following section presents three worksheet activities on therefore and however . The worksheets are built on the concept of “noticing” the actual use of therefore and its alternatives, however in different positions in the sentence, and the punctuation patterns associated with however so students can compare this actual use with their own use in their papers.

    Worksheet 1

    DDL Activity for the Overuse of therefore

    By the end of this activity, students will be able to

  • notice other causative logical connectors that native speakers use in their academic writing
  • modify their own drafts based on their findings in this activity
  • Instructions

    1. Read the texts below.
    2. What, do you think, is the relation between sentences in each text?
    3. How do writers of these situations connect their ideas together?
    4. What connectors do the writers use? Make a list.

  • Although he was slightly scornful of the group and eventually decided not to show with them, at that point he wanted to and as a result planned to remain in Paris at least until May.
  • In the legitimate forms of sports, one can lose. Also, many forms of available sports are supervised by adults and hence do not fit well with the emphases of the adolescent subculture.
  • Money for modifications and maintenance can then be effectively directed, resulting in real safety improvements. As a result, today’s plants, even older ones, pose less risk than the plant used in the Reactor Safety Study.
  • Some Republican senators said they had advised Bush not to sign or veto the cable legislation but instead let it go into law without his signature, thus avoiding the high-profile veto fight.
  • They quickly learn the importance of intelligent information gathering and manipulation and, as a result, information systems are the lifeblood of these professions.
  • To describe the boys as “more forceful” in pursuing their own agenda is ambiguous as well as politically loaded. It is ambiguous because forceful means both ‘‘effective’’ as well as “overpowering . . . using force.” It is political because it implies that girls are not as effective as boys in conflict situations; hence, girls are not good at verbally managing conflict, at furthering their own interests when opposed by someone. It is also a political conclusion because it values and emphasizes a masculine mode of brute force over a feminine mode of conflict mitigation.
  • When the state supreme court spoke on the issue over the course of the nineteenth century, Connecticut citizens heard and understood but did not absorb its judgments. Thus conflicting views of towns’ rights continue to endure side by side.
  • You know: This or that program or regulation will make us healthier or smarter or better behaved, and therefore will make us more productive, so economic growth will increase and so will revenues, and thus everything will “pay for itself.”

    Now look at the following texts and follow the same instructions.

  • The amendments, therefore, require people’s support instead of their criticism.
  • As a whole, the disadvantages of the revisions greatly outweigh the advantages and therefore the package should not be passed.
  • With such a power the president can select his supporters to ensure the outcome and election goes as desired, making fair elections almost impossible to exist. Therefore, the president of Egypt can control the country as a dictator legally.
  • Another major logical fallacy that is observant is the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy which is an “after this, therefore caused by this” fallacy.

    Now discuss your findings with your partners. Is there only one way to show cause and result between sentences? How can this help you improve your drafts?

    Worksheet 2

    DDL Activity for the Underuse of however in Medial Position

    By the end of this activity, students will be able to
    • notice the frequency of using however in medial position in native speakers’ writing
    • compare this frequency with the frequency in their own writing
    • modify their drafts to be more native-like in terms of the use of however

    1. Underline the connector “however” in the following texts.
    2. Where does each appear in the text: at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end? Record the number of each.

  • And drug arrests played a role in the city’s decision to close down Sugars altogether. However, the owner, Mr. Bishop, said the arrests didn’t lead to any convictions.
  • ARAC was charged with the task of identifying 3 percent of each college’s budget for reallocation; however, Norris said the committee’s report is already dated.
  • As the rest of the exhibition shows, however, it was not so easy to break the patterns of convention—even for a surrealist.
  • In 1848, however, the Mexican War hero Zachary Taylor, running as a Whig, was elected President, and when he assumed office in 1849 Hawthorne was replaced.
  • Most of the Vineyard’s renowned beaches are open only to town residents. Hotel guests, however, get local beach privileges.
  • Shorenstein, who is leading the effort, declined further comment. However, a source close to the negotiations said investors had reached an accord to present to Major League Baseball by week’s end.
  • They are mostly technical measures, such as changing the way securities dealers calculate their inventory to bring in more tax revenues. In this campaign, however, Bush has made an issue out of saying that anything that brings in more money to the government is a tax increase.
  • Today, however, the wage-earner is as expendable to the capitalist as any other piece of equipment.

    Now follow the same instructions for the following texts:

  • These terms disable the Muslim Brotherhood from interfering in the elections as they don’t apply to the rule. However, there are some negative view points which should have to be considered.
  • They must adhere to the citizens’ desires more so than before in order to receive their vote. However, this will not matter because the president has the power to appoint officials to monitor.
  • Neusener tried to critic students, professors and system hoping that this would help them to improve and present a better educational level. However, Neusener failed in conveying his message effectively as he had some major weaknesses.
  • He could find statistics from other studies that would apply to the situation. However, his inability to provide any form of evidence throughout the text continually damages the persuasiveness of the article.

    Now compare the numbers. What can you conclude from these numbers? Report to the rest of the class.

    Worksheet 3

    DDL Activity for the Misuse of Punctuation Marks with however in Medial Position

    By the end of this activity, students will be able to

  • recognize the correct punctuation marks patterns associated with however in medial position
  • correct the punctuation marks in their own papers

    1. Underline the word “however” in the following sentences.
    2. What punctuation marks are used with each one?

  • ARAC was charged with the task of identifying 3 percent of each college’s budget for reallocation; however, Norris said the committee’s report is already dated.
  • As the rest of the exhibition shows, however, it was not so easy to break the patterns of convention—even for a surrealist.
  • In 1848, however, the Mexican War hero Zachary Taylor, running as a Whig, was elected
  • President, and when he assumed office in 1849 Hawthorne was replaced.
  • Most of the Vineyard’s renowned beaches are open only to town residents. Hotel guests, however, get local beach privileges.

    Now, look at your own drafts and find all instances of “however.” Are you using the same punctuation mark patterns? If not, how can you make them better?


    Bernardini, S. (2004). Corpora in the classroom: An overview and some reflections on future developments. In J. Sinclair (Ed.), How to use corpora in second language teaching [Electronic version]. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

    Hunston, S. (2002). Corpora in applied linguistics . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Khuwaileh, A., & Al Shoumali, A. (2000). Writing errors: A study of the writing ability of Arab learners of academic English and Arabic at university. Language, Culture and Curriculum (13)2, 147-183.

    Nesselhauf, N. (2004). Learner corpora and their potential for language teaching. In J. Sinclair (Ed.), How to use corpora in second language teaching [Electronic version]. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

    Tanko, G. (2004). The use of adverbial connectors in Hungarian university students’ argumentative essays. In J. Sinclair (Ed.), How to use corpora in second language teaching (pp. 159-181) [Electronic version]. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

    Lilian Farag Allah has been an English teacher for 15 years in different disciplines. She has an MA TEFL from the American University in Cairo. Her expertise is quite varied, with special interest in teaching writing and integrating technology in teaching.

    Using Blogs as ePortfolios in ESL/EFL Writing Classes

    Min Jung Jee, University of Texas at Austin

    Second or foreign language instruction has been affected by the major change in learning theory from behaviorism to constructivism and social constructivism. Language learners are now seen as active learning makers, and the learning process is considered as important as the learning product itself. Writing instruction in general, and second and foreign language writing instruction specifically, is naturally affected by these current learning theories. The process approach to writing instruction seems to uphold the tenants of social constructivism because it proposes that writers receive input through interaction in developing a text. As technology has been increasingly integrated in language instruction, various teaching tools and methods have been newly developed for students’ process learning as well as process writing instruction.

    In this article, I focus on integrating ePortfolios as an authentic writing assessment method for process writing. In addition, I present practical classroom implementation of blogs as writing ePortfolios. In the conclusion, I discuss the pedagogical implications of blogs as ePortfolios.


    Prior to the 1960s, the ‘traditional paradigm’ or ‘product approach’ was used in high school and college writing instruction (Kroll, 2001) [1]. It conceptualized writing as a solitary process and emphasized correctness of the final text. It focused on the final product and saw the teacher’s role as a judge and corrector. However, after a call in the 1960s for teachers and researchers to study how writing is actually produced, the process approach emerged (based on the “think aloud” technique by Janet Emig) and became commonplace by the 1980s.

    Process writing can involve many types of writing courses (e.g., personal writing, academic writing), and emphasizes the cyclical nature of writing. According to Williams (2004), process writing can be defined as an approach to writing instruction that views composing as a multi-staged recursive activity. It emphasizes making learners aware of the processes they go through when they write, and focuses on composing processes rather than on the finished product. It also encourages a collaborative, supportive environment for composing, usually including peer participation. As contemporary learning theories have affected writing instruction, the process writing approach emerges as upholding these current main theories of learning: constructivism and social constructivism. One of the best ways of helping learners actively engage in their and others’ writing process is through developing ‘Portfolio.’


    Considering the features of process writing, authentic assessment could be an effective assessment approach for evaluating the development of writing skills. According to O’Malley and Valdez Pierce (1996), ‘authentic assessment’ is “the multiple forms of assessment that reflect student learning, achievement, motivation, and attitudes on instructionally-relevant classroom activities. Examples of authentic assessment include performance assessment, portfolios, and student self-assessment” (p. 4). Among these examples, portfolios are identified as effective authentic writing assessment.

    According to Williams (2004), a portfolio is a collection of student writing that demonstrates ability, achievement, and progress, often used for assessment purposes. O’Malley & Valdez Pierce (1996) identify three types of portfolios: showcase portfolios (containing only a learner’s best work), collection portfolios (containing all work), and assessment portfolios (containing systematic collections to check learner growth). Since portfolios can give a broader and more complex picture of a writer’s ability than a single piece of writing, it is a more authentic form of assessment.

    Writing samples for portfolios can be written and collected electronically through ‘ePortfolios.’ A basic distinction between hardcopy portfolios and ePortfolios is the different platform in terms of collection, storage and transport. While hardcopy portfolios are collected and stored on paper and manually shared with teachers and students, all work in ePortfolios is done electronically. Thus, management has the potential to be easier than hardcopy portfolios. There could be various ways to integrate ePortfolios in a writing class, e.g., discussion boards, class web pages, and forums.

    In addition to these, there are blogs, which can be beneficial as ePortfolios when appropriately integrated into a course. ‘Blog’ is a combination of ‘Web’ and ‘Log,’ and sometimes called ‘Weblog.’ Campbell (2003) defines blog as an “online journal that an individual can continuously update with his or her own words, ideas, and thoughts through software that enables one to easily do so.” Winer (2003) suggests these characteristics of blogs:

    1) They are personal and reveal the writer’s personality, which can heighten interest in reading and/or following a particular blog;

    2) They are on the World Wide Web and therefore low cost and easily accessible;

    3) They are published and evaluated both in their writing and design; and

    4) They are part of communities and offer connections to others through topics.

    There are several benefits of blogging in writing classes. For example, there is a real audience; the language is communicative; there is emphasis on the process of writing, peer review, and editing, which can lower writing anxiety; and self-publishing encourages students’ ownership and responsibility (Ward, 2004; Godwin-Jones, 2003). Because blogs are easy to use in terms of writing, saving, and uploading drafts, they are a convenient format for ePortfolios.


    In this section, I present a sample plan for integrating blogs into a writing course. The student level at which the course is aimed is ‘intermediate’ to ‘advanced.’ The plan lays out four basic steps for introducing and evaluating blogs as writing ePortfolios.

    Step 1: Demonstration of Creating a Blog

  • Creating Blogs . Using, teacher demonstrates the main functions that the class will use: creating a blog account, uploading drafts, and giving and receiving feedback.

  • Steps for Creating a Blog
    a) Go to
    b) Create an account: Click ‘Create your Blog now’ written on the orange arrow. After filling out the form, click ‘Continue.’
    c) Name your blog: Give your blog name and URL, and click ‘Continue.’
    d) Choose a template: After choosing one of the pre-made templates, click ‘Continue.’ Your blog has been created!

    Step 2: Modeling the Feedback Process

  • Providing Feedback. Teacher brings a sample student draft, and demonstrates how to evaluate it using a Writing Feedback Form (see example below). After showing a sample on the computer screen, teacher asks students to read it silently. Teacher shows the form to students, and asks students each question on the form. After entering feedback using MS Word, teacher uploads the form with comments on the blog comment.

  • Writing Feedback Form
    a) What do you see as the writer’s main point in this draft?
    b) What part of the draft most interests you? And why?
    c) Where would you like to see more detail or explanation?
    d) Where could the writer use less detail or explanation?
    e) Do you find anything unclear or confusing in terms of grammar?
    f) Offer one suggestion to the writer which could improve the draft.

  • Steps for Uploading Documents to a Blog
    a) Copy your draft.
    b) Click ‘New post’ on your blog and paste the draft.
    c) Type the name of the draft and click ‘Publish Post.’

    Step 3: Classroom Procedure for Writing Instruction with Blogs

  • Writing the Paper-Based First Draft. After brainstorming with group members using graphic organizers, students write the first draft by themselves in class. Then, they upload it to their blogs (see Resources for Graphic Organizers).

  • Resources for Graphic Organizers

  • Feedback on the First Draft. At home, students read one of their group members’ drafts and post feedback based on the Writing Feedback Form (see Step 2). They also use a Writing Evaluation Form (see Step 4) to assign a grade (5 pts). Feedback is due by the next day.

  • Writing the Paper-Based Second Draft. Based on peer feedback, students revise the first draft and write the second one in class. If there are common grammar errors on the first draft, teacher will give a mini-lesson on those errors (Williams, 2004) [2]. Then, they upload the draft to their blogs.

  • Feedback on the Second Draft. Only teacher comments on the second draft and assigns grades for both the draft (5 pts) and peer feedback (5 pts).

  • Writing the Paper-Based Last Draft. Based on teacher feedback, students write the last draft in class and make short group presentations. Students offer and receive oral feedback. After class, they revise the last draft and upload the final version to their blogs.

  • Feedback on the Final Version. Teacher and students post feedback or reflections. They also post a grade using the Writing Evaluation Form (see Step 4). Teacher assigns grades for both the final version (5 pts) and peer feedback (5 pts).

  • Writing Reflection Journal. After finishing the final version, students write (and post) a reflection journal. Sample questions for reflection include: How do you think your drafts from the first to the final have changed in terms of grammar and content? How did you incorporate your peers’ feedback into your drafts? Students have two days to post responses. Teacher assigns grades for both the Writing Reflection Journal (5 pts) and peer feedback (5 pts).

    Step 4: ePortfolio Assessment Summary for Blogs

  • Assessment Schedule. The items listed below are evaluated during the writing process (points are indicated in parenthesis).

    a) Peer Feedback on the First Draft. Peers must complete feedback before the next class, and assign a grade to their peer’s writing.
    b) Teacher Feedback on the Second Draft. Teacher assesses peer feedback (5 pts), and evaluates each student’s second draft including comments for improvement (5 pts).
    c) Peer and Teacher Feedback on the Final Version. Teacher and students offer comments or reflections within the next two days. Teacher assigns grades both on peer feedback (5 pts) and final draft (5 pts).
    d) Writing Reflection Journal and Feedback. Students write a reflection journal by the day after the final draft due date. Teacher and students post as many comments as possible during the next two days. Teacher evaluates both Writing Reflection Journals (5 pts) and peer comments (5 pts).

    • Sample Evaluation Rubrics. The rubrics provided below support systematic evaluation of student work and participation.

    a) ePortfolio Content (Total 65 points)
    b) Writing (10 points each, 40 total)

    1. ___ Purpose and organization
    2. ___ Word/ Sentence use
    3. ___ Mechanics/ Format/ Grammar
    4. ___ Editing

    c) Use of Peer Feedback (5 points)
    This student referred to the peer’s feedback on the draft.
    (Very good: 5, good: 4, satisfactory: 3, poor: 2, none: 1)
    d) Writing Reflection Journal (5 points)
    (Very good: 5, good: 4, satisfactory: 3, poor: 2, none: 1)
    e) Peer Feedback on Student Writing (5 points x 3 = 15 total)
    (Very good: 5, good: 4, satisfactory: 3, poor: 2, none: 1)


    In the process approach to writing instruction described in this paper, students participate in peer evaluation and collaboration through interaction on blogs. This participation provides a sense of learning community, which facilitates students’ learning processes and a sense of ownership of their writing process. Moreover, using blogs as ePortfolios takes advantage of web-publishing, so that learners may feel more responsibility and authorship of their writing, which may promote intrinsic motivation. Furthermore, by archiving their writing, students actually see their progress, which may also motivate them to be more conscientious writers. Last but not least, integrating blogs in writing courses enhances students’ technology-related literacy.


    [1] According to Kroll (2001), the product approach presents rules for writing, provides a text (typically literary) for discussion and analysis, requires a writing assignment based on the text (with an outline), and feedback in the form of comments or criticism on student work before the next text is assigned.

    [2] In terms of feedback on grammatical forms or language structures, considerable evidence from L2 acquisition research shows that learners will acquire only what they are ready to acquire (Lightbown & Spada, 2006; Williams, 2004, p.157; Ellis, 2004; Ellis, 1997). So, teachers should be very cautious with students’ learning process and selecting grammar points to repair. Williams (2004) suggests that if a specific structure appears to be problematic for many students, a grammar mini-lesson may be effective: 1model the form its meanings, and its uses , 2) demonstrate problems that L2 writers may experience in using the form, and 3) practice identifying and correcting errors, both in prepared exercises and in authentic writing samples. Mini-lessons or short demonstrations on ‘treatable errors (errors that can be explained through recourse to a rule)’ can be an effective way of raising student awareness of frequently occurring errors. Data-driven learning (DDL) and analysis of target corpora are also useful (O’Keekfe, McCarthy & Carter 2007; Sinclair, 2004).


    Campbell, A.P. (2003). Weblogs for use with ESL classes. The Internet TESL Journal , 9(2). Retrieved from

    Ducate, L.C. & Lomicka, L.L. (2005). Exploring the blogosphere: Use of web logs in the foreign language classroom. Foreign Language Annals , 38(3), 410-421.

    Ferdig, R., & Trammell, K. (2004). Content delivery in the ‘blogosphere.’ Technology Horizons in Education Journal . Retrieved from

    Godwin-Jones, B. (2003). Blogs and wikis: Environments for on-line collaboration. Language Learning & Technology , 7(2), 12-16. Retrieved from

    Ellis, R. (2004). SLA research and language teaching . Oxford: Oxford UP.

    -----. (1997). Second language acquisition . Oxford: Oxford UP.

    Kroll, B. (2001). Considerations for teaching an ESL/EFL writing course. In M. Celce-Murcia (Ed.), Teaching English as a second or foreign language (3rd ed.) (pp. 219-248). : Boston, MA: Heinle and Heinle.

    Lightbown, P. & Spada, N. (2006). How languages are learned . Oxford: Oxford UP.

    O’Keefe, A., McCarthy, M., & Carter, R. (2007). From corpus to classroom: Language use and language teaching . Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

    O’Malley, M. & Valdez Pierce, L. (1996). Authentic assessment for English language learners: Practical approaches for teachers . New York: Longman.

    Sinclair, J. (2004). Trust the text: Language, corpus and discourse. New York: Routledge.

    Ward, J.M. (2004). Blog Assisted Language Learning (BALL): Push button publishing for the pupils. TEFL WebJournal , 3, 1-16. Available at

    Winer, D. (2003, May 23). What makes a weblog a weblog? Weblogs at Harvard Law . Message posted to

    Williams, J. (2004). Teaching writing in second and foreign language classrooms . Boston: McGraw Hill.

    Min Jung Jee is a PhD student in the Foreign Language Education Program at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests are technology-assisted language learning and teaching, CSCL, and fostering learner autonomy through technology.

    EFL Column Call for Participation

    Lilian Farag Allah, Cairo University, Egypt,

    Over the past two decades, the research and pedagogy of second language writing has largely expanded. This expansion, however, was not balanced between English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL), with the former receiving most of the attention and consideration at the expense of the latter. This could be due to the paramount increase in the number of researchers and practitioners coming from and working in ESL context rather than EFL context.

    With the relatively recent, increasing interest in EFL writing research and pedagogy, it is becoming of excess importance to have more representation of this wing of literature and practice. This was the reason behind initiating this EFL column to be a channel for those involved in the EFL writing context in order for them to have their voice heard in the field.

    Having considerable experience in EFL writing research and practice, I hope this column will be a professional gathering for everyone in the field of EFL writing. I have special interest in corpus-based research and applications in EFL writing as well as the potentials computers and the Internet may have for our classrooms. I also have paramount enthusiasm to explore learner communities, both online and face-to-face, and what they have to offer the EFL writing classroom.

    My ambition for the EFL column is to be the community in which EFL writing researchers come in close contact with the new trends in research. In this community, EFL writing instructors can share their instructional hardships, creative lesson plans, practical tips that worked, beneficial resources that enrich instruction, to name just a few possible issues to share.

    Bearing these hopes in mind, the column will welcome both short and long submissions.
    The short submissions (under 500 words) will include, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Statements of instructional problems
  • Classroom tips that worked
  • Resources and how to integrate them in classroom instruction
  • A recent article review
  • The longer submissions (up to 1200 words) will include, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Summary of research
  • Literature review with pedagogical implications
  • Book review
  • Lesson plans
  • Handouts and activity sheets
  • Proposed joint research projects
  • In order to ensure diversity of interest and coverage of as many areas of instruction in the field of EFL writing as possible, the EFL column would embrace submissions on the following themes:

  • University writing classrooms
  • Pre K-12 writing instruction
  • Learner communities in the writing classroom
  • Computer and the Internet in the writing classroom
  • Writing for tests (TOEFL and IELTS)
  • Technical writing as a booming genre in the EFL context
  • EFL writing instructors’ professional development
  • Relying on your contributions and innovative ideas, this EFL column will be a fast-growing, active forum that will help our knowledge soar and give our practice a boost.

    Please send your contributions to

    Lilian Farag Allah has been an English teacher for 15 years in different disciplines. She has an MA TEFL from the American University in Cairo. Her expertise is very varied, with special interest in teaching writing and integrating technology in teaching.

    TESOL 2008 Updates Academic Literacies of Undergraduate Generation 1.5 Learners

    Cathryn Crosby, West Chester University of Pennsylvania,

    L2 literacy research has been marked by a growing interest in the college-level academic literacy experiences of Generation 1.5 students. The following is a summary of a panel presentation given at TESOL 2008 in New York that explored, from a variety of perspectives, the academic literacy tasks these learners face, the difficulties they encounter with them, and how they attempt to negotiate these tasks.

    Cathryn Crosby (West Chester University of Pennsylvania, presented a collective case study of how three Generation 1.5 learners in their first year of university study negotiated various types of academic literacies across academic contexts and the challenges they faced in this negotiation and strategies they utilized. Using Lea and Street’s (2000) academic literacies model as a theoretical frame, the researcher examined the academic literacies contexts of the three participants and found that they experienced differences within and between contexts with regard to different writing expectations, particularly writing genres, and a variety of academic reading genres.

    With regard to academic writing, the biggest difficulties they had were with grammar and expression and developing ideas in their writing. The difficulty they had with regard to academic reading was with the lexicon they encountered. The strategies the participants used to help them overcome these difficulties included lexicon, composing processes, writing development, and instructor feedback. With regard to how the Generation 1.5 learners in the study negotiated academic literacies across contexts, their experience teaches us that literacy is complex and that no two academic contexts or literacies are exactly alike, but they might be similar. Furthermore, the processes of learning the academic literacy of these contexts will differ among Generation 1.5 learners, as it does among other populations of learners in our classrooms. Something else that differs is the notions of academic literacies that Generation 1.5 learners bring with them to the classroom. Finally, the participants’ experience in the study teaches us that strategies for negotiating academic literacies in one context may not necessarily work in another context. Hence, it is important for second language writing instructors to help Generation 1.5 learners develop a range of strategies that can be used in various academic contexts.

    Ditlev Larsen (Winona State University, discussed a case study examining four Generation 1.5 ESL students’ enculturation and socialization process into college writing in terms of how they negotiate the requirements of writing tasks during their first-year writing class. The enculturation process was seen from the students’ own vantage points through interviews and supported by writing samples.

    The study was based on the view that socialization into academic culture is made challenging by the differences in cultural/social worlds; students will need proficiency in a new “secondary discourse” (Gee, 1989, 1996). This is especially true for ESL writers as they must deal with a secondary discourse in a second language. Further complicating this issue is the fact that instructors often are unaware of these complex challenges and know little about students’ prior writing experience—what Durst (1999) refers to as the “enigma of arrival.” One of the goals of this study was to learn more about how various Generation 1.5 ESL students experience and cope with the challenges they face acquiring academic written English as well as contribute to instructor awareness of these issues.

    The students in the study represented four different language (cultural) backgrounds: Romanian, Cantonese, Somali, and Spanish (Mexican). This presentation focused on common features in the students’ responses. One such commonality was their perception of college writing requirements at the beginning of their class. On the basis of prior experience, they all had a very “formulaic” view of what “good college writing” would be (introduction, thesis etc.), and they emphasized the “objectiveness” of college writing (don’t express opinion). Generally, they viewed college writing as something unpleasant and had fairly low expectations regarding how they would do in their composition class; however, they were hoping for “quick fixes” to improve their writing. As a result of these limiting views, the students experienced very little success early in the course. This unsuccessful negotiation of the requirements can likely be traced back to a problem of “translation vs. exploration” (Durst, 1999). The students limit themselves by attempting to translate their already finished ideas into something that fits their preconceived notions of the format of college written discourse.

    However, toward the end of the semester, when they had been exposed to a typical process-oriented approach, the students’ perceptions changed. When referring to “good college writing,” they would now address the importance of “reading” and “audience.” In addition, they no longer saw the expression of opinion as something undesirable. Consequently, they also indicated that college writing was not as “unpleasant” as they initially expected although they acknowledged that writing is a complicated and challenging process of exploration of ideas. Exploration is the key word: The students were no longer simply translating ideas to fit a prefabricated rigid format. As result, they were much more successful negotiating the academic writing requirements.

    Mary Connerty (Pennsylvania State University, Erie, presented on the results of a study designed to identify salient linguistic differences among Generation 1.5, traditional ESL, and native English-speaking (NES) student writers. Over a five-semester period, students in freshman ESL and non-ESL designated composition classes at Penn State Erie were given the same readings and writing prompts, and their essays were collected and analyzed using corpus linguistic and other methodologies.

    Research results were presented. Through analysis of the data from corpora created from the essays of Generation 1.5, ESL, and NES writers, the frequency and function of the linguistic choices were examined and results compared with existing literature. Based on examination of differences in frequency of keywords, tagged part-of-speech features, and semantically tagged wordlists among the three groups, results from the study suggested that Generation 1.5 students do show distinct linguistic behavior in their academic writing, employing more elements of spoken English, more narrative features, and more elements of self-representation in their writing, despite essay prompt or genre style.

    The goal for this research and in this presentation was to shed light on the ways in which these rhetorical and syntactic features contribute to the construction of writer identity and interaction among these students. It is hoped that this understanding will lead to further investigation and inform the practice of teaching Generation 1.5 writers in the future.

    Presentation handout

    Deborah vanDommelen (San Francisco State University, presented on an approach for working with Generation 1.5 learners on raising awareness about the connection between spoken language and written discourse with the goal of encouraging students’ development as academic writers. Three activities that incorporate this approach were demonstrated with examples of steps, student interactions, responses, and writing.

    In the first activity, which draws on learners’ backgrounds and strengths as oral communicators, students make a chart in groups to compare their language backgrounds and ways of learning English with their answers to two questions: (1) What was the first language you learned? (2) How/when did you learn English? In constructing the chart, students begin to think about their individual learning preferences while acknowledging the diversity of their language backgrounds.

    The second activity builds on the first activity by further encouraging learners to explore their preferred learning styles in relation to language learning. As a group, students define the terms ear learner and eye learner and then interview a partner and take notes on the following questions: “Are you an eye learner or ear learner of English? Why?” For homework, they write summaries of their interviews.

    Dictocomp, the third activity, engages students in listening, reconstructing text, and negotiating meaning and form using the following steps: Students (1) listen to a text—a piece of student writing, an excerpt from a reading, a teacher-constructed paragraph—read by the teacher; (2) take notes on key words as they listen; (3) work in pairs or small groups to negotiate meaning and form; and (4) reconstruct their own text based on the notes they have taken (Wajnryb, 1990). After reconstructing their texts, students apply active editing strategies, negotiate form and meaning, and revise and correct their work. As a class, they compare different versions, examining the relationship between form and meaning, between spoken and written text. Students look for evidence of oral forms or patterns in their written work: dropped endings, missing subjects, missing time expressions, or joining words. Making oral-written connections raises awareness that can lead to improved accuracy in student writing.

    Presentation handout


    Durst, R. K. (1999). Collision course: Conflict, negotiation, and learning in college composition . Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

    Gee, J. P. (1989). Literacy, discourse, and linguistics: Essays by James Paul Gee. Journal of Education , 171(1), 1-176.

    Gee, J. P. (1996). Social linguistics and literacies: Ideology in discourses . Bristol, PA: Falmer.

    Goen-Salter, S., Porter, P., & vanDommelen, D. (in press). Pedagogical principles and practices for working with generation 1.5. In M. Roberge, M. Seigal, & L. Harklau, Generation 1.5 in College Composition . New York: Taylor & Frances Publishers.

    Lea, M., & Street, B. (2000). Student writing and staff feedback in higher education: An academic literacies approach. In M. Lea & B. Stierer (Eds.), Student writing in higher education: New contexts (pp. 32-46). Buckingham, England: The Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.

    Porter, P., & vanDommelen, D. (2005). Read, write, edit: Grammar for college writers . Boston: Thomson Heinle.

    Wajnryb, R. (1990). Grammar dictation . Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

    Designing Academic Writing Tasks Using Corpus Findings

    Margi Wald, University of California, Berkeley,

    Introduction to the Colloquium

    Interest in pedagogical implications and applications of corpus-based research has surged in recent years. Findings argue for and illustrate the value of making explicit the grammatical patterns, lexical features, text structure, and other key elements of academic discourse (see Biber, 2006; Biber, Johansson, Leech, Conrad, & Finegan, 1999; Meara & Fitzpatrick, 2000; Sinclair, 2004). Such explicit instruction can help writers become more aware of how language structures at the sentence- and discourse-level create meaning and link ideas in academic texts for different audiences and purposes. To date, however, few published corpus-based resources model for instructors how to integrate such corpus-informed instruction into their syllabi and lessons. This report on the colloquium outlines sequenced activities that presenters have successfully implemented in advanced-level academic ESL classrooms to help students use corpus-based resources and transfer target grammatical, lexical, and other discourse features into their own writing. Presenters provided handouts that detail resources, key features, and pedagogical applications to adapt to various educational contexts.

    Developing a Productive Academic Vocabulary
    Diane Schmitt, Nottingham Trent University,

    Writing feedback methods that use error editing symbols such as “wf” to indicate incorrect word form or “wc” for incorrect word choice are simply categorizing student vocabulary use as “misuse.” This is problematic given that such editing systems are normally used in process approaches to writing where the key focus is meant to be providing feedback for writing development. A developmental approach to writing needs to include a developmental approach to vocabulary learning. This presentation considers how use of corpora can assist teachers and learners in developing a deeper understanding of word knowledge and how students make use of their current level of word knowledge in their academic writing.

    Teaching Stance-Taking in Academic Writing
    Patricia Porter, , and Deborah vanDommelen, , San Francisco State University

    Effective academic writing requires accurate use of various grammatical structures for reporting and for expressing stance: when summarizing the ideas of others, when using others’ ideas to support opinions, and when limiting or strengthening claims. For second language writers, incorporating the structures required for these tasks into their writing can be challenging. This presentation will illustrate activities that promote consciousness-raising, practice, and the use of pedagogical resources drawn from corpus-based research.

    Developing Academic Writing Fluency Using Corpus-Based Resources
    Jan Frodesen, University of California, Santa Barbara,

    Focus on language in L2 writing instruction and activities has increasingly shifted from that of error correction to helping writers develop fluency. Although a complex notion, writing fluency may include the appropriate focusing of information at the sentence level, expressing ideas idiomatically through collocations common to academic writing, and creating discourse flow through cohesive devices such as the reference system. All of these goals can be greatly assisted by drawing on corpus-based grammars and dictionaries, which reveal the interactions between grammar and vocabulary as well as patterns dominant in academic registers. This presentation demonstrates ways to use corpus findings to create activities for fluency development in advanced-level undergraduate and graduate writing classrooms.

    Investigating Writing in the Disciplines Through Corpora
    Viviana Cortes, Iowa State University,

    The first part of this presentation describes an advanced academic writing course designed to allow international graduate students to become acquainted with the linguistic conventions and organizational patterns of research articles published in journals in their academic fields. The second part of the presentation introduces examples of activities designed for this corpus-based course captured through video as well as writing samples produces by the students who attended the class.

    All conference handouts and references are available online at For more information, contact individual presenters or Margi Wald, panel facilitator, at


    Biber, D. (2006). University language: A corpus-based study of spoken and written registers . Studies in Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

    Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S., & Finegan, E. (1999). Longman grammar of spoken and written English . London: Longman.

    Meara, P., & Fitzpatrick, T. (2000). Lex30: an improved method of assessing productive vocabulary in an L2 . System, 28(1), 19-30.

    Sinclair, J. (2004). How to use corpora in language teaching . Studies in Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing.

    Margi Wald is currently the director of The Summer English Language Institute and a lecturer in The College Writing Programs at UC Berkeley, and co-editor of The CATESOL Journal and TESOL’s SLW News . Her research focuses on corpus-based materials development and academic literacy development among immigrant ESL students.

    Second Language Writing/Teacher Education InterSection: Nurturing Prospective Second Language Writing Teachers

    Deborah Crusan, SLWIS Immediate Past Chair,

    This InterSection enjoyed healthy attendance not only because of its focus on teacher preparation, often considered of utmost importance to the field, but also because of its presenters, four well-known scholars in SLW and teacher education, all experienced teachers and teacher educators.

    Teachers of second language writing require unique practical skills as well as theory to be equipped to prepare students for the expectations of the academic discourse community. Our panel included Second Language Writing IS members Diane Belcher, Georgia State University (, and Alan Hirvela, Ohio State University (, who addressed what teachers need to know about second language writing theory. Teacher Education IS members Paula Golombek, Penn State University (, and Joel Hardman, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (, focused on what prospective second language writing teachers need to know about pedagogical methodology and course design. Our panel of experienced teachers and teacher educators offered valuable advice for SLW teacher educators and teachers regarding the theoretical, methodological, and pedagogical aspects of second language writing.

    Review of “Innovations in Assessing Writing” at TESOL 2008

    Charles Nelson, Kean University,

    This is the timeless way of building: learning the discipline—and shedding it.
    —Charles Alexander

    At the recent 2008 TESOL Convention in New York City, I participated in a colloquium that looked at various topics regarding assessment in writing: a survey of actual practices, developing a multitrait rubric, high-stakes assessment, and integrating assessment into writing.

    Ways of Assigning Grades to ESL Writing: A Survey of Methods

    Tim Grove (Biola University, presented on a survey he conducted of different teachers at different institutions that looked at the techniques used to evaluate writing, identifying seven basic types of assigning grades:

  • Holistic grading
  • Peer grading
  • Comments only
  • Content only
  • All or nothing
  • Percentage, point, and letter systems
  • Portfolios

    Holistic grading assigns a single grade to an essay based on “how well it fulfills its purpose.” Peer grading adds to the assessment process an essay’s peer critique and the students’ response to the critique. Comments only was seen in pass/fail writing courses. Content only , the main method used for evaluating writing in non-ESL courses, looked only at the content and disregarded language problems and errors.

    The opposite of content only was all or nothing , an assessment in which “papers with errors are returned, or severely penalized.” In this approach, instructors often would permit a maximum of three errors and would apply the same standard to native speakers and nonnative speakers. Grove found many variations on this theme of all or nothing. Sometimes, for the assignment to receive a passing grade, the first sentence had to be “error-free” or no single sentence could be considered “incomprehensible.” One instructor graded only capitalization, assuming that a weakness in this area extended to other areas of writing.

    Percentage, point, and letter systems used weighted rubrics and had a minimum score for passing. Some rubrics used an informal 10-point system for categories, such as language use, content, and organization, assigning points to each category. Others used a point-subtracting system in which points were deducted for each error in the categories and could possibly result in negative scores. One variation of this approach was to increase the number of points deducted for reoccurrences of the same error. Grove gave an example of a paper losing 2 points for the first subject-verb agreement error, 4 points for the second, 8 for the third, and so on. Apparently, this approach assumes that increasing the penalty increases the ability to learn the “error” of one’s ways in writing.

    The portfolio method of assessment mentioned came from one specific institution. In this particular form of portfolio assessment, grading was based on a student’s development. That is, two initial diagnostic essays were used to establish a baseline, from which the students each established semester goals in consultation with the teacher. During the course, students assessed their progress and negotiated their grade with the teacher according to well they were meeting their goals. One advantage of this method is that the assignments are individualized and connected to one another with respect to reaching personalized writing goals.

    Two other types of grading mentioned were stacking and William Rapaport’s triage theory of grading . In stacking , four papers are read at a time and stacked, or sorted, according to quality. Then another set of four are read, sorted, and then interfiled with the previous four, and so on, until all papers have been read. Once all papers have been stacked, grades are assigned with the best receiving the highest grade and the worst receiving the lowest grade, which need not be an A or F, respectively. Grove stated that this approach avoided grade inflation, or deflation, due to fatigue. The triage theory of grading , which seems to be a blend of content only and point system , uses a rubric that gives a score of zero to three for each category as follows:

    Any item [in the rubric] to be graded can best be graded on a 4-point scale:
    0 = assignment not done
    1 = assignment done, but clearly incorrect
    2 = assignment done, but only partially correct
    3 = assignment done, and clearly correct
    Presumably, 0s, 1s, and 3s are clearly identifiable; anything not clearly identifiable is a 2.

    Writing Assessment With Multitrait Rubric

    John Liang (Biola University, traced the development of his own rubric for assessing the writing of incoming international students on summary and reaction exams in an MA TESOL program.

    In developing his rubric, Liang’s goal was to move from an orientation toward proficiency to one of performance. He first diagnosed the problems the students were having in reading and summarizing articles, in developing and organizing an argument, and in grammar and vocabulary. Then he developed an assessment checklist of three scores of excellent, acceptable, and need work across eight criteria (introduction, analysis, grammatical areas, idiomatic language and word choice, clarity of expression, development and flow of thought, mechanics, and other areas). This checklist was easy to use, but the criteria were not clear to either scorers or students.

    Thus, the checklist was abandoned in favor of a more holistic assessment rubric, which Liang defined as “assign[ing] each essay to a scoring category according to its dominant characteristics.”

    This holistic rubric provided for five levels of performance, each with its own holistic description. In addition, space for comments on six areas of a task (introduction, text analysis, development, grammar, word choice, and mechanics) was provided. This approach made it easy to evaluate writing but did not provide a specific diagnosis of weaknesses for students to work on and improve their writing. So a third version was developed that broke the holistic description down into four areas of diagnosis (interaction with source text, development of argument, rhetorical features, language control).

    However, because this third rubric still did not provide criteria “specific to the assessment task,” a fourth rubric was developed that provided more detailed criteria for the four areas of diagnosis. This rubric was more valid because of its “close examination of specific aspects of writing of local importance,” and also because it could provide more detailed feedback to the students on their writing. Developing this rubric took time, effort, and considerable thought.

    Writing and High-Stakes Assessment

    Tim Collins (National-Louis University, looked at “Writing and High-Stakes Assessment.” Writing on high-stakes tests, such as the TOEFL, TOEIC, GRE, and GED, is becoming more important. The writing on these tests is graded holistically (and sometimes by a computer) for economical reasons. According to the test-makers, these tests are “highly reliable” and have “high inter-rater reliability.” However, Collins stated that reliability is not the same as validity, which is determined by the rubric used to evaluate writing tests and by “operational definitions of good writing.” In addition, these studies claiming reliability are done by the companies themselves, and it is not clear if they are free of bias or how they operationalize writing. Thus, although the test-makers’ claims need to investigated, Collins stated that to prepare students for high-stakes tests, instruction and assessment need to integrate appropriate rubrics, and Collins gave examples from his own book, GED Writing Test , of the ways a GED rubric was integrated into instruction.

    Teaching Writing Through Assessment

    Whereas the other three presentations gave specific examples of developing and using rubrics in assessment, Charles Nelson (Kean University, presented general principles of learning (Anderson & Schunn, 2000) to guide using assessment to teach writing:

    1. Effective time on task is the most important factor in learning, and it requires

  • accurate diagnosis of the learning task and performance to formulate clear instruction,
  • examples and understandable explanations for the task/rules, and
  • feedback (tied to examples and explanations).
  • 2. Power laws of practice and forgetting: Learning occurs best when reiterated in shorter intervals.

    These principles underscore the need for examples, whether of writing or of rubrics, in learning to clarify the product and process of writing so that students can understand course expectations, learn to assess their writing, and become autonomous in developing their writing, not only while in our classes but also after leaving them. These principles also indicate the need for an iterative practice of integrating writing and assessment. Often, student writing is assessed one to two times in a month, which is insufficient for learning to be effective. Instead, a rubric should be interwoven into a process of modeling, self-assessing, other-assessing, and reflecting on self- and other-assessments so that some aspect of the rubric is used one to two times a week.


    In these presentations, the practice of assessing writing ranged from portfolios to holistic impression to a fine-tuned multitrait rubric. The more holistic the assessment, the more efficient, that is timewise, the evaluating process. Although, as Groves noted, people in the “real world” evaluate writing holistically, such an approach lends itself to halo effects in which a prominent characteristic, such as grammar, can skew a grade. In fact, White and Polin’s (1986) research showed that holistic grading correlated strongly with correctness.

    In contrast, the more fine-tuned the rubric, the more explicit the feedback that can be provided to students, which, in turn, can more effectively help students understand how they might improve their writing. In addition, rubrics can counter the halo effects of holistic scoring. One drawback, of course, is the extra time needed to develop rubrics for specific types of writing and to use them in assessing writing.

    Although these presentations were sketched a year ago with the thought of looking at “innovations in assessing writing,” they focused on rubrics, a rather standard approach to assessment that is controversial for some. Wilson (2007), for instance, will not use rubrics because they cannot “capture the nuances of students’ writing” (p. 63). Likewise, Kohn (2006) wrote how rubrics lead to “standardization” of how teachers “think about student assignments” (pp. 12-13). Clearly, as in the case of high-stakes testing, writing can be reduced to a formula that shapes instruction and perception of writing. However, hiding the rubrics used by high-stakes raters will not help. Instead, as Collins asserted, relevant rubrics are important in helping students prepare to move past gatekeepers.

    In addition, rubrics, as noted by Calkins, can be “starting points from which we make our own rubrics” (cited in Spandel, 2006, p. 19). Looking at Liang’s development of his multitrait rubric, this is what we see: Year after year, he analyzed his students’ writing, the writing task students needed to perform, and the rubric itself to transform it into a tool that would provide the diagnostic feedback his students needed to develop their writing. In addition, he made explicit to himself and to his students the unspoken criteria he used in assessing their papers, thus affording himself the opportunity to reflect and change, and his students, the ability to see his expectations.

    Rubrics can also be starting points for talking about writing. This perspective should be added to Nelson’s presentation. That is, in using and applying the rubric to examples and students’ writing, a class can discuss the rubric itself: How does this rubric help, or not help, us to improve a particular piece of writing? Should the rubric be changed to be more appropriate? In what ways should it be changed? In fact, during June 2008, a conversation was initiated on the HEIS-L electronic discussion list about the rubric used for evaluating proposals for TESOL 2009. In a detailed examination of the proposal rubric, Karen Stanley wondered, among other issues, whether it was too “elaborate,” how to differentiate between the descriptors, and how to judge the criterion of making a “memorable contribution to the convention,” noting that what was memorable to an experienced teacher might overwhelm a beginner and what might be “invaluable” to the novice could be “boring” to the veteran. Thus, as Spandel (2006) wrote, “Using a rubric well is an interactive, interpretive process” (p. 20).

    Rubrics are a tool. They can be used as a hammer, pounding students’ writing into preconceived constraints. Or they can be used as a whetting stone of learning that students will some day shed.


    Anderson, J., & Schunn, (2000). Implications of the ACT-R learning theory: No magic bullets. In R. Glaser (Ed.), Advances in instructional psychology: Educational design and cognitive science (pp. 1-33). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    Kohn, A. (2006). The trouble with rubrics . English Journal, 95(4), 12-15.

    Rapaport, W. J. (2008, April 7). How I grade: The triage theory of grading . Retrieved June 1, 2008, from

    Spandel, V. (2006). In defense of rubrics. English Journal , 96(1), 19-22.

    Stanley, K. (2008, June 27). Summary of my comments on proposal rating . Message posted to HEIS-L electronic mailing list.

    White, E. M., & Polin, L. G. (1986). Research in effective teaching of writing. Volumes I and II: Final Project Report . ERIC document: ED275007.

    Wilson, M. (2007). Why I won’t be using rubrics to respond to student writing. English Journal 96(4), 62-66.

    Charles Nelson is assistant professor of ESL Writing at Kean University, New Jersey, USA. His research focuses on how students learn to write in a second language.

    SLWIS Special Event at TESOL 2008

    Deborah Crusan, SLWIS Immediate Past Chair,

    At TESOL 2008 in New York City the SLWIS hosted the second Evening With the Second Language Writing Interest Section. This year’s event, entitled “Building a Community of Writing Teachers,” was held at Meson Sevilla in New York City on Thursday, April 3, and was generously supported by the Journal of Second Language Writing and its editors at that time, Ilona Leki and Tony Silva. Approximately 60 people crowded the restaurant to meet and talk with noted SLW experts. Because of the success of the first two Evenings, the SLWIS has decided to carry on this tradition in Denver in March 2009. Mark your calendars for An Evening With the Second Language Writing Interest Section: Forging New Pathways in the Teaching of Second Language Writing, to be held on Thursday, March 26, 2009, from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Location TBA.

    Announcements and Information Symposium on Second Language Writing 2009: The Future of Second Language Writing

    Symposium on Second Language Writing 2009: The Future of Second Language Writing
    Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA

    The 2009 Symposium on Second Language Writing will take place at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA, on November 5-7, 2009.

    With the theme, “The Future of Second Language Writing,” the 2009 Symposium aims to provide an opportunity to contemplate the future of this young and vibrant field in the presence of well-established, internationally known researchers and teachers as well as relatively young teachers and researchers who bring new energy and enthusiasm to this growing field of inquiry.

    The 2009 Symposium will feature several plenary speakers who are internationally recognized experts in second language writing. In addition, a series of invited colloquia will address various issues concerning the future of the field. Concurrent sessions will address a wide range of topics and issues in the field of second language writing.

    An open call for proposals will be available in fall 2008. To receive updates by e-mail, please subscribe to SSLWLIST. Subscription information is available at the Symposium Web site.

    For more information, please visit

    SSLW Interactive

    SSLW Interactive is an online community of second language writing teachers and researchers sponsored by the Symposium on Second Language Writing, an annual international gathering of second language writing specialists. The purpose of SSLW interactive is to provide a centralized resource portal for second language writing teachers and researchers from around the world. It also seeks to connect various communities of second language writing teachers and researchers who attend different conferences. For more information, please visit

    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.

    Discussion E-List
    Visit the “Communities” link on the TESOL Main Page ( to subscribe to SLWIS-L, the discussion list for SLWIS members, or visit if you are already a subscriber.

    Web Sites

    SLWIS Community Leaders 2008-2009

    Gigi Taylor

    Christine Tardy

    Cate Crosby

    Steering Committee
    Subarna Banerjee (2006-2009)

    Allison Petro (2008-2011)

    Charles Nelson (2006-2009)

    Tony Silva (2006-2009)

    E-List Manager
    Youngjoo Yi

    Web Manager
    Charles Nelson

    Newsletter Coeditors
    Cate Crosby

    Margi Wald

    Book Review Coeditors
    Steven Bookman

    Sharon Whitehead-van Löben Sels

    CALL Column Editor
    Catherine Smith

    EFL Column Editor
    Lilian Farag Allah

    Paul Kei Matsuda

    Past Chairs
    Deborah Crusan

    Jessie L. Moore

    Christina Ortmeier-Hooper

    SLW News: Mission Statement and Call for Submissions

    Mission Statement


    SLW News provides a forum for the exchange of views, research, and pedagogical practices related to second language writing. This forum creates opportunities for Interest Section members to advocate for students and other members, to disseminate and promote research on second language writing, and to encourage and support the teaching of writing to ESOL students at all levels.


    SLW News is oriented to teachers, teacher-researchers, administrators, and writing specialists from across all nations, institutions, and grade levels, including traditionally underrepresented contexts (preK through 12, two-year colleges, community programs, international K-12 schools, etc.).


    The ultimate vision for the newsletter is inclusiveness, in light of the breadth and depth of the constituents served. SLW News strives to achieve a balance in the following areas:

  • articles, brief reports, and announcements that address the concerns of those working in all educational settings
  • coverage of issues of concern to the various constituent audiences based on experience level and area of expertise or interest
  • theoretical and practical information about second language writing, teaching, research, and administration

    Call for Submissions

    SLW News is soliciting articles on second language writing theory, research, and pedagogy in all ESL/EFL settings. Deadlines: June 30 for the August issue and December 31 for the February issue.

    SLW News welcomes articles that focus on L2 writer and characteristics and text features, classroom materials and practices, placement and assessment issues, writing program administration, teacher development, and other related areas. SLW News encourages submissions related to any educational setting, especially traditionally underrepresented contexts (preK through 12, two-year colleges, community programs, international K-12 schools, etc.). In light of the newsletter’s electronic format, authors are encouraged to include hyperlinks.

    Submission Guidelines

    Articles should

  • be no longer than 1,500 words
  • include a 50-word (500 characters or less) abstract and 2- to 3-sentence author biography
  • contain no more than five citations
  • follow the style guidelines in the Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition (APA style)
  • be in MS Word (.doc) or rich text (.rtf) format
  • Please direct your submissions and questions to

    Margi Wald, SLW News Coeditor
    College Writing Programs
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, CA 94720-2500 USA
    tel: +1 510.642.2652
    fax: +1 510.642.6963

    Book Review Policy

    SLW News welcomes reviews of teacher resource books and student texts dealing with second language writing, teaching, research, and administration. Anyone interested in writing a review for SLW News may choose a recently published book in the field and contact the editor for approval and review copies. Reviews will be considered for publication based on the quality of the reviewer’s evaluation and description of the book, and the book’s relevance and importance to the field.

    Reviews should

  • be in APA format
  • be 600-900 words in length
  • include a 50-word (500 characters or less) abstract and a 2- to 3-sentence author biography
  • Further information and book review suggestions are available from the SLW News book review coeditors: Steven Bookman,, and Sharon Whitehead-van Löben Sels,

    CALL Column Submissions

    SLW News welcomes CALL-related articles, announcements, reports, and reviews in the following categories:

  • Software/Hardware (e.g., organizing systems or integrating software/hardware in learning environments to enhance writing instruction, assessment, or program evaluation).
  • Materials Design (e.g., using software such as Flash or MonoConc to design language-learning activities or materials that address specific language-learning goals, including discovery activities, practice exercises, storybooks, quizzes, or games).
  • Curriculum Design (e.g., using course management software such as Blackboard or eCollege to design e-courses, e-programs, or hybrids for second language writing).
  • Applied Writing Research (e.g., writing computer programs to identify lexico-grammatical features, discourse patterns, or errors/learner variation in writing, i.e., corpus linguistics).
  • Submissions should be in APA format and include a 50-word (500 characters or less) abstract and a 2- to 3-sentence author biography. Further information is available from Catherine Smith, CALL Column editor, at

    EFL Column Submissions

    This column welcomes both short and long submissions.

    Topics for short submissions (under 500 words) include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Statements of instructional problems
  • Classroom tips that worked
  • Resources and how to integrate them in classroom instruction
  • A recent article review
  • Topics for longer submissions (up to 1,200 words) include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Summary of research
  • Literature review with pedagogical implications
  • Book review
  • Lesson plans
  • Handouts and activity sheets
  • Proposed joint research projects
  • In order to ensure diversity of interest and coverage of as many areas of instruction in the field of EFL writing as possible, the EFL column encourages submissions on the following themes:

  • University writing classrooms
  • PreK-12 writing instruction
  • Learner communities in the writing classroom
  • Computer and the Internet in the writing classroom
  • Writing for tests (TOEFL and IELTS)
  • Technical writing as a booming genre in the EFL context
  • EFL writing instructors’ professional development
  • Submissions should be in APA format and include a 50-word (500 characters or less) abstract and a 2- to 3-sentence author biography. Please direct questions and send your contributions to Lilian Farag Allah, column editor, at