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SLWIS: Focusing on language and content in writing classes: Finding a balance

by Second Language Writing Interest Section | 17 Feb 2017
Resource Description: Some research on language development in writing classes shows little language development over the course of a semester (e.g., studies in Connor-Linton & Polio, 2014 and Yoon & Polio, 2017).  It is not clear, however, if this is because of not enough language focus or in spite of language focus in writing classes.   In this discussion, I will first provide a brief summary of what we know about how language develops in writing classes.  After that, I will lead a discussion about what might be an appropriate balance between addressing language issues and matters related to idea development and organization.  We will talk about the role of context, student needs, and specific genres.

Charlene Polio ( is a professor at Michigan State University, where she teaches classes in the MA TESOL and Second Language Studies programs.  She is the outgoing co-editor of the Modern Language Journal and will soon be assuming the role of co-editor of TESOL Quarterly with her colleague Peter De Costa.  She has published widely on second language writing and is the author of Understanding, Evaluating, and Conducting Second Language Writing Research (Routledge, 2017, with Debra Friedman).  In addition, her book Authentic Materials Myths (Michigan, 2017, with Eve Zyzik) will soon be published.
Audience: Adult, Teacher Training, University
Audience Language Proficiency: Advanced, Beginner, Intermediate
TESOL Interest Section: Second Language Writing