SLWIS Newsletter

Back Issues: 2011 to present

SLWIS News, Volume 3:1 (March 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
    • University Students’ Views of Teacher Feedback in Writing Courses in Hong Kong
    • Tutoring L2 Graduate Writers: Sites for Calibration
    • Review of "Teaching Writing and Literature with Blogs" at NCTE 2007
    • Second Language Writing in the Pacific Rim
  • CALL Column
    • CALL Column: Welcome from the New Editor and Call for Submissions
    • Design Considerations for Two EFL Online Courses on Writing
  • Book Review
    • Book Review: Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling
  • Convention Updates
    • TESOL 2008: Featured Sessions
    • Second Language Writing IS Discussion Groups for TESOL 2008
  • Announcements and Information
    • The Seventh Symposium on Second Language Writing
    • Open Access to TESOL Communities
    • TESOL Board Approves Three New Position Statements
    • SLW News: Mission Statement and Call for Submissions
  • About This Member Community
    • Second Language Writing IS Contact Information

Leadership Updates Letter from the Chair

Deborah Crusan, SLWIS Chair,

Dear SLWIS Members,

Hello from the Midwest. I write to you today in the hopes that you will be able to attend the TESOL annual convention and exhibit. In just over a week in New York City, we will once again have the opportunity to meet with colleagues and friends from around the world at TESOL 2008 – Worlds of TESOL: Building Communities of Practice, Inquiry, Creativity.

This is a very exciting conference for the Second Language Writing Interest Section. Last May, we received the highest number of proposals in our short history, and therefore, will have an even larger presence at the conference than we did in 2007. However, please remember that in order to have an increased presence at the conference, our membership needs to submit proposals to our interest section. TESOL grants presentation slots based on the number of proposals received. This year, we received 148 proposals, which gave us 26 slots on the program (a 17.5% acceptance rate).

Those 26 slots include some very diverse topics including issues of voice, teaching scientific writing, ways to assess writing, and what corpus findings can tell us about the design of writing tasks. Besides our regular presentations, the SLWIS will host an academic session – Writing Centers, Language Acquisition, and Global Contexts and an InterSection with Teacher Education – Nurturing Prospective Second Language Writing Teachers. Detailed information about these two sessions, as well as other featured sessions, is included in this newsletter. Several SLWIS members will present Discussion Groups as well; however, since the conference has been shortened this year, you won’t find Discussion Groups in their usual place on the program – either from 7:30 to 8:15 AM or 7:00 to 7:45 PM each day of the conference. Instead, discussion groups will be held throughout the day, so check your program carefully and print out the schedule of Discussion Groups listed in this issue of the newsletter.

As the SLWIS grows, we see the need for more involvement from the membership. We have just elected a new set of officers for 2008-9: Christine Tardy, 2008-2009 Chair-Elect; Cate Crosby, 2008-2010 Secretary; Allison Petro, 2008-2011 Steering Committee Member.  Please join me in welcoming these new officers.  The importance of strong leadership cannot be overlooked, and I hope you'll consider nominating a colleague or yourself for a position for 2009-10. Most of the positions require minimum time commitments, the largest being attendance at several meetings at the conference.

Other ways that members can become involved in the workings of the IS include volunteering to staff the booth in NYC, volunteering to read proposals for TESOL 2009, and, very importantly, attending the Open Meeting in NYC which will be held on Thursday, April 3, 2008 from 5:00 to 7:00  PM at the Sheraton. (See Featured Sessions list in this issue.) Since we will be combining the business and planning meetings, lots will be happening at the meeting. We’ll be brainstorming ideas for Denver and need fresh perspectives. Please don’t think that you aren’t wanted, needed, or absolutely valuable. You are. So, please set aside these two hours on your conference calendar. Come to the meeting and get involved with SLWIS. And, if you cannot attend TESOL this year, please join our e-list and share your perspectives via this forum.

In closing, let me say that my year as chair has been enjoyable. I have benefited from meeting and communicating with many of you during this time and thank the membership for the support, generosity, and collegiality offered to me while serving as your chair.  I hope to see many of you in New York City.

All the best,

Update from the SLW News Editorial Staff

Margi Wald, SLW News Co-editor,

Cate Crosby and I are pleased to welcome the latest member of the SLW News editorial staff:

Catherine Smith, CALL Column Editor

Catherine Smith is an assistant professor at Troy University where she teaches composition and a range of applied linguistics courses.  She has a background in corpus linguistics, discourse analysis, and pragmatics with interests in L1/L2 writing research, structure of English, computer programming, and corpus-informed materials design,

Please join us in welcoming Catherine.  She brings 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 Column Editor.  
Book Review Editor
So that SLW News can provide members with the most up-to-date information about textbooks and teacher resources, we are currently seeking a book review editor for the newsletter. The book review editor will compile and manage a list of new books of interest to SLWIS members, publish the list on the SLWIS Web site, solicit and edit submissions, coordinate with publishers to have review copies sent to potential reviewers, and write reviews him- or herself as desired.
Context Column Editor
Given SLW News’ goal of encouraging submissions related to a variety of educational settings, especially traditionally underrepresented contexts, we are seeking editors for our Context Column to ensure strong, broad coverage. Ideally, we will have several editors for this column, each of whom would represent a particular educational level or context. Possible contexts include, but are not limited to, elementary, secondary, 2-year or community colleges, college/university, community programs, and professional institutes; both ESL and EFL contexts should be represented. Editors will solicit articles relevant to people working in the chosen context and coordinate with 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 Co-editor, at

Articles University Students’ Views of Teacher Feedback in Writing Courses in Hong Kong

Emily N. K. Lui, The Chinese University of Hong Kong,

Previous studies investigating students’ views of teacher feedback have placed the main focus on eliciting quantitative and qualitative data via questionnaires and interviews, respectively. Much less attention has been paid to the triangulation between students’ views claimed in surveys and students’ actual use of teacher feedback, where discrepancies may occur and are worth investigating for improving students’ writing abilities. In addition, studies of this subject matter in Hong Kong have not been abundant. In one relevant study, Lee (2004), researched students’ views of teacher feedback, and feedback on grammar in particular, extensively in the secondary school context My study was designed to triangulate various sources of data to investigate Hong Kong students’ views and uses of teacher feedback. This article focuses on reporting the phenomenon of ignored teacher feedback: (a) on what aspect(s) of feedback students tended to take no action in response, not even a wrong attempt, and why, and (b) on how to better assist students to follow teacher feedback while revising their papers.

In this article, teacher feedback refers to any written interventions made on the student’s paper by the teacher (Hyland, 2003), and is categorized into five aspects: organization, content, and vocabulary deal with the meaning of the essay, and grammar and mechanics deal with the form (Cohen, 1987).

In Hong Kong, writing is dealt with differently in the university setting than it is in the secondary school. Process writing has been advocated but is not followed closely in secondary schools (see, e.g., Curriculum Development Council, 1999). Writing is instead taught predominantly through the product approach: Students are required to submit only one version of an assignment for a grade and teacher feedback on grammatical errors (Lee, 2004). In contrast, students entering the university find themselves in writing classes where writing tends to be taught primarily through the process approach. They are required to hand in an outline and preliminary drafts for feedback from peers and teachers before completing the final version of their writing assignments, on which a grade will be given (see, e.g., Braine, 2003). Teacher feedback covers all five aspects mentioned above, and necessitates corresponding revisions before the final version is written and submitted for a grade.


Three writing classes—all of which adopted process writing—in a university in Hong Kong were investigated in this study. Students in these classes were first-year undergraduates majoring in English, Chinese, and various disciplines, respectively, taking the writing courses as required by their disciplines to learn academic writing. Before enrolling in the writing classes, students had had minimal exposure to process writing—which provides a wider scope of teacher feedback. Forty-two questionnaires were collected from these three classes. In addition, ten of the students (six English majors and four non-English majors) and the three writing instructors were interviewed to explore their views of teacher feedback. Writing assignments (including the preliminary drafts and final versions) from thirty two students were collected to compare the teacher feedback given on a preliminary draft and ignored by students in the subsequent version.

The writing assignment under investigation was an argumentative essay in which students chose their own topics, stated their arguments, and wrote with evidential support and appropriate citation format as taught in the course. Students received teacher feedback on the outline, draft, and final essay.

Results and Discussion

Clarity of Feedback

Ignoring teacher feedback, as shown from the data of various sources, was a strategy employed to deal with teacher feedback. To “do nothing,” as indicated by one of the respondents in the questionnaire, was a way to deal with difficulties in understanding teacher feedback during the revision process.

Interviews with students reflected that they were more likely to ignore

(a) feedback on earlier drafts if teacher feedback was made on multiple drafts. This factor was mentioned four times among the 10 informants.
(b) feedback on minor things. In students’ words, minor meant grammar, vocabulary, and things that might not mean a big deal to the teacher if ignored. This factor was mentioned three times.
(c) feedback not specific to the essay. This factor was mentioned twice.

However, the most frequently mentioned kinds of ignored teacher feedback were

(d) feedback difficult to revise accordingly
(e) feedback obscure in letting students know what the problem was.

These factors were mentioned six and four times respectively among the 10 informants.

It is worth noting that although the kinds of feedback ignored were highly related to the aspects of feedback (for instance, feedback on minor things may be highly related to feedback on form), how the feedback was expressed played a more important role in determining students’ level of attention to teacher feedback. Although teachers did not believe students ignored teacher feedback based on the aspects of the feedback—which coincided with students’ views—the reasons teachers gave (such as students overlooked some of the many feedback points; students were too busy to revise everything; and students found teachers’ handwriting illegible) seemed to show that teachers were unaware of the real difficulties students encountered in dealing with teacher feedback during the revision process.

Further illustration can be provided by a journalism major, Jeff, and an English major, Dorothy (pseudonyms), who represented two extreme cases of responding to teacher feedback. Analysis of Jeff’s writing assignment indicated that Jeff ignored 0% of the teacher feedback given on his preliminary draft in revising for the subsequent version. In other words, he responded to every single piece of feedback made by his teacher. Jeff revealed in the interview that he responded to all the feedback received because “the comments were quite clear” and “I still had to revise it [the paper] for a mark, so I revised it accordingly.”

At the other extreme was Dorothy, who ignored 85%, 55%, 18%, and 11% of the teacher feedback given on her first through penultimate drafts respectively. The interview with Dorothy revealed that she found immense difficulty in comprehending the feedback on her own: “I think most of the feedback required us [students] to think by ourselves.” The written feedback seemed insufficient for her to understand what the problem was: “For example, he [teacher] asked me to change the thesis statement; but in my eyes, the thesis statement was perfectly okay.”

Feedback and Proficiency Level

The cases of Jeff and Dorothy demonstrate again that how the feedback was presented had a stronger effect than did the aspects of feedback on the attention level of students. Apart from the feedback itself in determining students’ response to teacher feedback, students’ proficiency in English, especially in terms of grammar and vocabulary, was also a factor. Students found it difficult to deal with the feedback on these two aspects, especially if the feedback was given in a way that required students to think by themselves when their knowledge of grammar and size of vocabulary may have been insufficient to allow them to self-correct based on the hints from their teachers. Even Jeff, who responded to all feedback, found some of his revisions unsatisfactory because of his limited vocabulary. In his interview, he admitted, “I tried to think about the right word to use . . . to replace some words that were not so precise enough, but the effect may not be that good.”

Feedback and Revision Strategies

Students also lacked revision strategies, which made their independent revision process through following teacher feedback harder than it should have been. Dorothy, for example, noted in her interview that she would have preferred her teacher to “give some examples as to how to revise, as . . . I was still not so sure about how to work on it.” Sometimes these factors were coupled with a lack of communication between the teacher and the student, and limited support and advice from others (peers, resources online or from library)—which was, sadly to say, very close to the case of Dorothy who saw herself facing teacher feedback alone: “I think if you have a good peer, then it [peer review] is useful. . . . But . . . I mainly work on my own.” Students may then have found the task of following teacher feedback during revision for a subsequent draft unachievable, resulting in some teacher feedback being ignored.


From the above, it can be seen that teachers seemed unaware of the specific difficulties faced by individual students in comprehending teacher feedback, while students seemed reliant on teacher feedback as the sole reference point and underutilized other resources in the revision process. Results suggested that teachers should give more comprehensible and specific feedback tailored to the needs of individual students, and to hold teacher-student conferences to clarify any feedback that appears unclear to individual students. It is also advisable to give more explicit instructions on revision strategies, so that students can reduce their sole reliance on teacher feedback during their revision process. Teacher feedback should be the trigger, the catalyst for revising for a better essay, not the only source that contributes to it.


Braine, G. (2003). From a teacher-centred to a student-centred approach: A study of peer feedback in Hong Kong writing classes. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication, 13, 269-288.

Cohen, A. D. (1987). Student processing of feedback on their compositions. In A. Wenden & J. Rubin (Eds.), Learner strategies in language learning (pp. 57-69). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Curriculum Development Council. (1999). English language: Secondary 1-5. Hong Kong: Printing Dept.

Hyland, F. (2003). Focusing on form: Student engagement with teacher feedback. System, 31, 217-230.

Lee, I. (2004). Error correction in L2 secondary writing classrooms: The case of Hong Kong. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13, 285-312.

Now that she has finished her MPhil in English (Applied English Linguistics) at the Department of English, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Emily N. K. Lui is studying for a postgraduate diploma in education at the Faculty of Education in the same university. Her research interests include second language writing, teacher professional development, and learner diversity in ability.

Tutoring L2 Graduate Writers: Sites for Calibration

Talinn Phillips, Ohio University, USA,

I am usually one of those people who hates it when an essay begins with a dictionary definition, but I looked up “calibrate” to get the juices flowing (and because, frankly, I know nothing about mechanics and wanted to make sure I wasn’t completely misusing the term) and it’s just too good to resist. Calibrate means to “adjust to take external factors into consideration or to allow comparison with other data.” External factors? Comparison with the other…? What does calibration have to do with writing centers and grad students?

I would argue that most writing centers are calibrated to working with NES undergraduate writers, and that when graduate students (especially L2 graduate students) use the writing center, some serious re-calibration has to occur in order for a graduate writer’s needs to be met. My purpose here is to consider the kinds of calibrations writing centers may need to make when L2 graduate students begin to utilize writing centers and by extension, when the standard undergraduate, NES tutoring calibration gets derailed. For a variety of reasons, many writing centers don’t tutor graduate writers, so centers then have few resources to draw from when learning how to meet the needs of this different tutoring population. The ideas and suggestions below are based on my own tutoring experience with graduate students (about 50% of our clients are L2 grad writers) and my recent case study research on the role of the writing center in L2 grad writers’ development. I’ll highlight some differences between typical undergraduate and graduate tutoring and also identify sites where calibration often needs to occur. However, the most important step is realizing that calibration is necessary—that working with graduate writers makes for a very different type of tutoring session.

The first site where calibration is almost always needed is in the structure of the “session” itself. Undergraduate papers are usually ten pages or less in length. In contrast, graduate writers are often composing papers of 10 to 25 pages—even longer if they’re writing thesis or dissertation chapters. These longer pieces of writing become very challenging to work with, even in a 50 minute session (many writing centers only have 20 or 30 minute sessions). Session length can create real frustration for a graduate writer. He will rarely be able to get through a full paper in one session—certainly not if that paper has significant weaknesses. The writer may then be forced to come back several times, often over a period of days or weeks, in order to get help with one whole piece of writing.

Of course, because graduate papers are longer, they are also more complex and reflect knowledge that is both more sophisticated and more discipline-specific. Though writing centers often promote themselves as being able to help any writer, at any level, no matter the subject, my fellow tutors and I have found that this is stretching things a bit where graduate writers are concerned. In order for a tutor to have adequate knowledge of the paper’s content, the writer may need to spend 10 or 15 minutes just helping the tutor get a fundamental grasp of the project. The explanation then ends up consuming a significant chunk of those 50 minute sessions. Due to limits on numbers of sessions, a writer may then need to spend a week or more to get help with one paper or chapter. Understandably, the writer becomes frustrated, discouraged, and may simply run out of time to receive help.

These different demands of graduate writing offer writing centers a chance to re-calibrate notions of “session” to better meet graduate writers’ needs. Possibilities include pairing grad writers with just one tutor for the course of a term, offering extended sessions for grad writers, and forming peer graduate writing groups. Graduate writing groups allow a writer’s group to develop the crucial in-depth knowledge of the writer’s project, therefore enabling the group to offer more contextualized feedback than a tutor may be able to do. The groups can also be structured so that writers can submit longer pieces of writing when needed.
Another key difference between working with NES undergraduates and graduate students is that graduate writers are typically much more invested in their work since the writing stakes are so much higher for them. They’re also more likely to be pursuing something that they’re really passionate about, as opposed to the undergrad who is writing a paper on a subject she knows nothing about for a class that she hates. This higher level of investment impacts tutoring in at least two ways that call for calibration. One is that while undergrads may show up at the writing center door, required by the professor (and grouchy about it), most graduate students come because they recognize their need for help and are, in general, open to receiving it, although as I will describe below, they may have specific definitions of what “help” entails.

Graduate writers’ higher level of investment calls for some calibration, but in this case, it’s painless, if not a joy. Any tutor will tell you that it’s more rewarding to work with a writer who is engaged in her project and open to receiving help than with a writer who is bored and resents you. However, that higher level of investment does mean that the tutor is much less the “expert” than in many undergraduate tutoring contexts and some tutors might find that an uncomfortable place to be. For myself and those I’ve worked with, we usually find graduate tutoring to be much more engaging and rewarding, even though our lack of disciplinary knowledge means we bring less “authority” to the session.

Another impact of higher investment, and one that is important when working with L2 writers, is that grad students are more likely to come with clear agendas for their sessions. This doesn’t necessarily sound like a problem: most writing centers like and even encourage writers to bring their own agendas to a session. The problem surfaces when writers’ agendas don’t match up with a center’s philosophy to keep the focus on global issues or “higher order concerns” like organization, structure, or focus/thesis. However, several of the graduate writers I’ve worked with actually find this philosophy somewhat insulting. They simply don’t want and won’t accept a global focus for their tutoring sessions. They feel that they have grasped the material, organized it effectively, and provided the evidence needed to support their arguments: in short, that they have higher order concerns under control. They also sometimes feel (and perhaps justifiably so) that a tutor is not qualified to offer advice on these matters that are so complex and discipline-specific.

Instead, these writers know they need help at the sentence level. Many graduate writers want and need help with grammar, mechanics, usage, vocabulary, and in general, issues of style. They recognize that their writing doesn’t “sound as good” as a native speaker’s and they want the writing center to help them improve. It’s not that they necessarily want copyediting help (although some do), but that they need help to learn the kinds of sophisticated academic styles that they see modeled in the texts of their disciplines. While struggling to learn these academic styles may come across to tutors as problems with grammar, mechanics, and usage, in reality, the root issue is usually a weak vocabulary. Writers may need years to learn the unusual vocabulary, jargon and lexicalized phrases that pervade high-level academic writing. The one-on-one, contextualized nature of writing tutoring makes it an ideal site to help writers with these lexical issues.

Choosing to provide sentence-level writing help does require calibration for writing centers that are used to only tutoring writers on broader concerns. For these centers, the move to the sentence level can be very uncomfortable, both because it goes against their long-held philosophies and because tutors may have less expertise to teach writers about these issues. But even though it makes us uncomfortable, calibrating to tutor at the sentence level is essential for L2 writers. Sentence-level tutoring certainly doesn’t need to replace an emphasis on higher-order concerns—both levels of tutoring are essential for an L2 writer’s development. In my own tutoring, I have found it helpful to remember that taking ownership over one’s writing is a good thing; therefore if a graduate writer comes to me asking for sentence-level help, I ought to respect the way that writer is owning her writing and provide the kind of help that has been requested, even if it pushes me out of my tutoring comfort zone.

Calibration is nothing new to an experienced tutor. In many senses of the word, writing tutors calibrate to each new writer they meet and to each new tutoring session. Yet in another sense, those are often small calibrations that are still based around native-English-speaking, undergraduate norms. Graduate writers, both L2 and NES require more radical shifts from our standard practice, but it is just these radical shifts that make really productive, rewarding tutoring possible with graduate writers.

Talinn Phillips directs the writing center at Ohio University where she is also completing her doctorate in English rhetoric and composition. Her dissertation examines the writing development of four incoming L2 graduate writers and the role that the writing center plays in that development. She is currently secretary of the SLWIS.


Review of "Teaching Writing and Literature with Blogs" at NCTE 2007

Charles Nelson, Kean University,

The 2007 NCTE Annual Convention took place November 15-18 in New York City. Quite a few sessions looked at using Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. One Web 2.0 panel, on which I participated, looked at using blogs for learning, as a multimodal platform for analyzing poetry, and for studying cultural literacy. 

Blogging to Learn

My presentation was entitled "Blogging to Learn" (see, which gave theoretical and practical considerations on using blogs to promote learning in the classroom.

Theoretically, blogs and other online tools, when used appropriately, can engage students effectively in the learning process. They do so in part by creating a sense of ownership and community. The sense of community results from the relationships established in students' interactions among themselves and with others outside the classroom.

Blogs also make learning more effective because they multiply student interaction and engagement with ideas. Through reading classmates’ (and others’) weblogs, students are exposed to different perspectives, and by responding to others, students have the opportunity to wrestle with and resolve contradictions between their own opinions and the perspectives of others. Such interaction is meaningful and authentic because it takes place in an environment of real authors with real audiences.

In addition, through the multiple interactions among students, course concepts are reiterated and at times expanded into students' own practices outside of the school environment, thus taking student understanding to a higher level.

Practically, blogs can be used in a number of ways by both students and teachers.  Here are a few:

Students Teachers
  1. Keep a journal on learning 
  2. Maintain a blog on any area of interest, becoming an expert in that area
  3. Integrate videos and podcasts
  4. Have class discussions on a class weblog
  5. Create a study guide
  6. Publish a newsletter or other publication
  1. Provide models
  2. Provide downloadable materials
  3. Integrate videos and podcasts
  4. Recap lessons
  5. Give feedback
  6. Make announcements
  7. Disseminate information

The next two presentations provide specific examples of these general guidelines.

Multimodal Expression in an International Blog: Writing, Literature, and Technology

Donna Reiss and Art Young from Clemson University collaborated with Magnus Gustafsson of Chalmers University in Sweden to set up a blog that focused on modernism in ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ for three classes: Fiction for Engineers (for graduate students, many of whom were international students in Sweden), a second year general education American literature survey, and an M.A. seminar in Victorian poetry.

Their goals for this international blog were threefold: 

  • Learn about modernism in literature
  • Develop an international learning community 
  • Increase confidence and competence with multiple literacies (bold in original)

This exploration was multimodal in that students used a blog platform to write letters in response to their readings and to one another, and also to incorporate audio and visual elements. For example, one student incorporated an image of Salvador Dali's painting "The Persistence of Memory" and an audio file of the song "Time" by the group Hootie and the Blowfish, comparing the theme of time in these two sources to Prufrock's understanding of time. Thus, the power of meaning contained in multimodal expression, as the presenters noted, is not limited to language alone.

Obviously, the electronic medium of blogs allowed an international community to form despite differences in time and space. However, the crossing of the blogging medium with the print genre of letters was more conducive to forming a learning community than by blogging alone as it allowed students (1) to more easily enter into conversations due to the inherently social nature of letters, and (2) to create an authentic audience as they would be addressing each other by name and closing with their own name.

Cultural Literacy and MySpace

The third member of the panel was Ali Mageehon, professor of English at New Mexico State University at Alamogordo, who talked about using MySpace in the classroom in an intermediate developmental writing class. She had designed a cultural analysis assignment in which students were to keep a log of their activities on MySpace, focused on these three questions:

  • Who uses MySpace?  Describe the demographic profile of the “typical” MySpace user.
  • How might you describe MySpace to someone who has never encountered either MySpace or a computer?
  • Based on what you have observed, why is MySpace so popular?

However, her results were unexpected. Rather than analyzing MySpace, the students wrote essays that reduced to the axiom that MySpace was "popular because it gives them a chance to keep in touch with their friends." In addition, from a survey of the students, about one half of the students did not want to use MySpace in course assignments because they wanted to keep their social lives separate from their school lives. Interestingly, Mageehon, too, felt the need to draw a line between her teacher and private identities. Not wanting to share all with her students, she "cleaned up" her MySpace site and presented a professional image of herself that she felt comfortable with sharing with her students.


Reiss and Young's presentation on their international weblog was fascinating in how students introjected various media, cultures, and experiences into the learning equation, and it exemplified how Web 2.0 tools facilitate community, critical thinking, and other positive measures of learning. Yet I found Mageehon's class experience more thought provoking for several reasons. One is that Mageehon, like many of her students, wanted to keep her social life separate from the class life, which causes me to wonder, In asking our students to analyze their own culture, are we asking them to do tasks that we ourselves might feel uncomfortable with in certain situations? What limitations should we consider in making course concepts relevant to students?

Mageehon's examples also show the difficulty of being relevant. That is, classrooms, and individuals within a class, are complex organisms in their own right, responding to the "same" assignments in different ways (cf. Coughlan & Duff, 1994). What is meaningful to some students may not be to others. There is no one task or set of tools, including Web 2.0 tools, that can make learning relevant and authentic to all students in all classes. There is no "best practice" that always generalizes across contexts (cf. Davis, Sumara, & Luce-Kapler, 2000, p. 93).

A final point to keep in mind is that students' beliefs can interfere with their ability to analyze. Hammer (1994), for instance, found that in an introductory physics class, students' knowledge could be fragmented; their common sense beliefs about the physical world could conflict with the course's content knowledge, even overriding it and preventing further exploration of a problem. Similarly, for the students in Mageehon's class, their common sense notion that people had a MySpace for maintaining friendships may have prevented them from analyzing their own culture in depth. In such a case, it would not be sufficient to provide scaffolding for doing an analytical essay. Rather, students would first need to resolve the incoherence between their common sense and course knowledge.

To sum up, as evidenced in the international blog, social-sharing platforms have great potential for learning in the classroom because they provide mechanisms for autonomy and social relatedness (see Deci & Ryan, 2000) and for "ideas [to] stumble across one another" (Davis & Sumara, 2006, p. 143). However, as seen in Mageehon's class, relevance and learning are not top-down driven processes of "best practices." Instead, occurring in complex adaptive systems, they may be triggered into existence, or not.


Coughlan, P., & Duff, P. A. (1994). Same task, different activities: Analysis of SLA task from an activity theory perspective. In J. P. Lantolf & G. Appel (Eds.), Vygotskian approaches to second language research (pp. 173-193). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Davis, B., & Sumara, D. (2006). Complexity and education: Inquiries into learning, teaching, and research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence  Erlbaum Assoc.

Davis, B., Sumara, D., & Luce-Kapler, R. (2000). Engaging minds: Learning and teaching in a complex world. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The "what" and "why" of goal pursuits: human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Pyschological Inquiry 11, 227-268.

Hammer, D. (1994). Epistemological beliefs in introductory physics. Cognition & Instruction, 12, 151-183.

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.

Second Language Writing in the Pacific Rim

Harris Bras, Purdue University, USA,

Is it not a pleasure to study and practice what one has learned?
Is it not a pleasure to have friends come from afar?

The 6th Symposium on Second Language Writing was distinguished by two firsts: convening outside of the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, and beginning a new practice of meeting annually. Nagoya, a city of over two million in the center of Japan’s main island of Honshu, played host to 300 second language writing scholars from around the Pacific Rim and beyond on September 15-17, 2007. All events took place in an immaculate new facility on the campus of Nagoya Gakuin University, and graduate students and staff from both Nagoya Gakuin and Nagoya University were instrumental in helping the symposium run smoothly.

The theme of the symposium was “Second Language Writing in the Pacific Rim,” and a stated aim of the organizers was to “stimulate the international exchange of research insights on second language writing as well as to foster a sense of community among second language writing teachers and researchers from around the Pacific Rim.” This goal was likely achieved: This year’s event—the largest symposium to date—attracted almost 200 scholars from East Asian locales such as Japan, Taiwan, China, Korea, and Hong Kong, as well as attendees from countries as distant as the United Kingdom, Iceland, and Saudi Arabia. Many of the participants were attending their first symposium.

The core of the symposium’s program consisted of five plenary presentations by internationally recognized scholars from around the Pacific Rim:

In “Changes in L2 Writing Ability and Motivation Over 3.5 Years: A Socio-Cognitive Account,” Miyuki Sasaki of Nagoya Gakuin University reported on an investigation into the interaction between Japanese EFL students’ changes in L2 writing ability and motivation over a period of 3.5 years. Acknowledging the limitations of the cognitive-only approaches she employed for past studies, here she adopted a more sociocognitive perspective. The results revealed that (a) only those students who were motivated enough to spend some time abroad improved their L2 writing ability; (b) only those students who spent some time abroad formed an L2-related “imagined community”; and (c) only those students who spent more than 4 months abroad became motivated to write better in L2.

Lourdes Ortega of the University of Hawai‘i at Mânoa presented the second plenary, “Locating Purposes and Needs for Writing in a Foreign Language.” She began by acknowledging that educators and researchers interested in writing in a foreign language (FL) face formidable challenges all over the world. Some discussion ensued about material, sociopolitical, and cultural difficulties, such as the obstacles of large-size classrooms and overloaded teacher schedules, the paralyzing burden that high-stakes testing places on FL pedagogies, and the tension-ridden interpenetration of values and practices from centers to peripheries and (only rarely) back from peripheries to centers. Ortega connected these concerns to a less often examined source of difficulty: the politics of purposes and needs for FL writing. Writing in a foreign language across the board is often characterized as a less purposeful and needs-driven enterprise than is writing in a second language. She critically examined the disciplinary discourse about purposes and needs for FL writing and raised further questions: How can we craft valued purposes for FL writing, and how can we deepen our notions of student needs for FL writing? How can we do so while still being mindful of educational values and contextual realities across diverse FL contexts?

Hiroe Kobayashi of Hiroshima University and Carol Rinnert of Hiroshima City University addressed “L1/L2 Text Construction of Multicompetent Writers in EFL Contexts: Insights and Challenges.” Their presentation focused on a dynamic model of L1/L2 text construction of multicompetent writers. Theoretically influenced by Cook’s notion of “multicompetence,” this model consists of three major components: writers’ repertoire of knowledge, decision making, and L1/L2 text as output. Kobayashi and Rinnert showed that writers at any level apply L1- or L2-based writing knowledge to the construction of text in either language, and the amount of L1/L2 overlap in text features varies, depending upon the writer’s decisions, which are affected by individual/situational factors. Challenges for future research include maintenance/decline of writers’ multicompetence.

In “Textographies and the Researching and Teaching of Writing,” Brian Paltridge of the University of Sydney discussed the use of textographies in the researching and teaching of writing. A textography is an approach to genre analysis that combines elements of text analysis with elements of ethnography to examine what texts are like, and why. Three examples of textographies were presented: a study that examined the theses that art and design students write in their master’s programs, a study that examined the writing section of Chinese college English tests, and a writing course for second language graduate students learning to write in academic settings. In each of these examples the analysis moved beyond the text to explore the context in which the texts are produced as well as reasons for the choices that students make in their writing.

The final plenary address was given by former TESOL president Jun Liu of the University of Arizona. In “Peer Review in Asian Contexts: A Cultural Perspective” Liu noted that little is known about the effectiveness of peer review in EFL writing in East Asia compared with studies of East Asian students in English-speaking countries. He believes that because of the same-culture background, large class size, test-oriented writing practices, and less-demanding writing tasks, peer review faces a number of challenges in East Asian contexts. Liu discussed a number of challenges he observed and experienced in teaching university students in China, elaborating on several intertwined factors affecting the effectiveness of peer review in EFL writing at Chinese institutions: group dynamics, pragmatic competence, politeness and face-saving strategies, preparedness, competitiveness, and aggressiveness.

There were also two invited colloquia. The first featured Tomoko Kaneko, Yukio Tono, and John Milton and focused on corpus analysis, addressing the possibilities of using corpora in second language writing research and teaching. The second included presentations by scholars from Hong Kong, the Philippines, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, and China, focusing on second language writing issues around the Pacific Rim and emphasizing the importance of sharing second language writing instructional practices on a global scale.

In addition, approximately 150 presentations were given at Nagoya in concurrent sessions over the course of the 3 days of the symposium. Abstracts of all these presentation—along with more information on the Nagoya Symposium, a photo album from the event, and symposia past and future—can be found at The 2008 Symposium will return to Purdue University and run June 5-7. (See announcement in this issue of the newsletter.)

CALL Column CALL Column: Welcome from the New Editor and Call for Submissions

Catherine Smith, Troy University,

Investigating the role of computer technology is an exciting part of second language writing.  Integrating technology is important because it increases access to learning, and it facilitates record keeping for program efficacy and innovations.  Technology is also interesting because there is great potential for new development in teaching, assessment, materials design, applied research, software design, computer programming, and computer systems engineering.  This multifaceted nature of the topic makes it important for educators, designers, programmers and researchers (who incidentally may be the same person) to come together in cooperative conversation that is organized and mindful of effective methodological practices.  The CALL Column is a forum for discussing these themes.  It supports investigating the role of computer technology in second language writing and linking theory to practice for quality and effectiveness in the procedures we follow.

SLW/CALL readers have diverse interests, backgrounds, and curiosity, which are ideal ingredients for enlightening discussion and professional growth.  My own background is varied as well.  I am an applied linguist with training in corpus linguistics, discourse analysis, and descriptive and functional grammar.  I apply this training to L1/L2 writing research, computer programming for writing research, corpus-informed materials design, ESL/EFL teacher training, and curriculum design which links inter-disciplinary theories to teaching practices.  I have integrated computer technology in different ways to support my work in these areas, and I am keenly interested in the approaches that others have used for similar or different projects.  Many individuals wear multiple professional hats as educators, designers, classroom researchers, computer programmers or systems engineers.  Consequently, as column editor, I would like to support a flexible discussion of computer technology in second language writing to accommodate the potential range of readers’ needs and interests.  Also, many individuals are energized by sharing their ideas but may hesitate if adequate support is unavailable.  Thus, I would also like to provide as much support as possible to contributors to our discussion.

To facilitate these goals, I would like to propose four thematic categories as a basis for organizing our discussion of computer technology in second language writing.  These include:

  1. Software/Hardware (e.g., organizing systems or integrating software/hardware in learning environments to enhance writing instruction, assessment, or program evaluation).
  2. Materials Design (e.g., using software such as Flash or Monoconc to design language learning activities or materials which address specific language learning goals, including discovery activities, practice exercises, storybooks, quizzes, or games).
  3. 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).
  4. Applied Writing Research (e.g., writing computer programs to identify lexico-grammatical features, discourse patterns, or errors/learner variation in writing, e.g., writing computer programs to identify lexico-grammatical features, discourse patterns, or errors/learner variation in writing).

Submissions may be reviews or project reports (or calls for project participation).  A list of questions to organize the content of submissions is provided below.  Contributors may wish to note that these guidelines are only suggestions, and are not meant to stifle creativity which may be represented more effectively in other ways.

  • Is the review or project inspired by a particular SLW need or question?
  • Is it possible to briefly summarize how others have approached the need or question, and situate your own work within this background?
  • Are there features of theoretical or methodological frameworks on which you draw to inform or organize your approach?
  • Can features of a particular learning context be identified (e.g., educational level, learner population, learning environment, learning purpose)?
  • Can features of a particular technology context be identified (e.g., cost, platform, availability, intended users)?
  • Can pedagogical or technological issues be identified (e.g., resources, constraints)?
  • Is there a procedure, series of steps, or timeline followed?
  • Are there any results, outcomes, modules, units, or activities to report or describe?
  • Can samples or illustrations be presented (e.g., software or internet pages, activities, exercises, learner patterns)?
  • Can any limitations be identified or future steps suggested?
  • Are there any resources or references used to support the review or project?

As inspiration for launching discussion, we can briefly consider a few resources in Applied Linguistics/TESL which provide conceptual frameworks from which SLW/CALL readers can choose (or create new frameworks) to organize their contributions.  As early as1899, Henry Sweet offered four simple yet timeless concepts for inquiry and discussion:  a) selecting material; b) limiting the scope of material; c) sequencing material across the four skills; and d) indexing material from simple to complex.  Of course, since then, many approaches for research and teaching have been developed (e.g., discourse analysis, interlanguage pragmatics, content-based instruction).  With specific regard to CALL, Egbert and Mikel Petrie (2005) provide a survey of CALL research issues.  In the first chapter of this edited volume, they offer justification for CALL research (i.e., technology offers different opportunities and thus warrant research as something which we do not understand, p.5).  Also, they identify unanswered research questions (e.g., how does cultural bias in software affect learning?) and suggest procedures for inquiry (e.g., think-aloud protocols while students use the software, p. 8).  The second chapter identifies criteria for effective CALL research (e.g., describing technology limitations or malfunctions), and subsequent chapters address different research perspectives (e.g., visuality, authentic language, systemic functional linguistics).  Additionally, Levy and Stockwell (2006) provide a survey of CALL instructional issues.  They describe how professionals have approached pedagogical challenges, such as converting learning tasks, designing courses, evaluating software, integrating effective computer-mediated communication, and providing practice across the four skills.  They also address the role of SLA theory in CALL (e.g., activity theory, constructivism), CALL research design issues (e.g., researching intercultural learning through email, researching student use of help and feedback, tracing learner behavior), and integrating technology (e.g., authoring software, mobile learning).  While I have only touched on a few topics here (and mentioned two sources which may be useful to readers), there are many ways to investigate the role of computer technology in second language writing.  What approach are you using, and what are you finding out?


Egbert, J. & Mikel Petrie, G. (2005). CALL research perspectives. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Levy, M. & Stockwell, G. (2006). CALL dimensions: Options and issues in computer-assisted language learning. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Sweet, H. (1899). The practical study of languages: A guide for teachers and learners. London: Dent.

Catherine Smith is an assistant professor at Troy University where she teaches composition and applied linguistics courses.  She has a background in corpus linguistics, discourse analysis, and pragmatics with interests in L1/L2 writing, structure of English, and corpus-informed materials.


Design Considerations for Two EFL Online Courses on Writing

Alice Emery, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México,

Introduction: The Context and Needs Analysis

In 2004, I designed an online writing course for Mexican EFL teachers as part of an online continuing education project in applied linguistics and language teacher education at the Center of Foreign Language Teaching (CELE is its acronym in Spanish) at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Mexico City ( The UNAM is the leading research university in Latin America, as well as the largest. When I conducted a needs analysis for the course, several salient points emerged:

  1. Most of the EFL courses offered at the CELE (and the UNAM in general) did not focus on specific academic writing genres beyond essays and resume writing.
  2. The number of requests to the CELE for writing courses and support for researchers who urgently needed to publish in English had steadily increased.
  3. Only a few EFL teachers at the CELE were interested in teaching academic writing or felt comfortable teaching it.
  4. Most EFL teachers at the Center understood and used the basic tenets of the process writing approach, but few had been exposed to genre approaches.

The needs analysis indicates that the UNAM and CELE need genre-specific courses that address researchers’ publishing needs. While it is clear that the CELE will need a more comprehensive writing program in the future, in the meantime, my project addresses some of the identified needs on a small scale.

At the same time, the CELE’s EFL instructors acknowledged a need to strengthen their own researching and publishing skills, for both career advancement and meeting pressing needs of the university community. A continuing education course for EFL teachers in academic writing was conceived as a first step toward forming a team of teachers who were indeed interested in academic writing and felt comfortable teaching it. Close on the heels of the EFL teachers course, we at CELE  implemented a similarly designed course for researchers in diverse areas of study.

The rest of this article describes specific contextual challenges and design solutions, theoretical underpinnings of course design and features that reflect the theory, examples of content and sample activities, decisions related to our choice of technologies and software, and, finally, technological shortcomings and future considerations for the program.

Situational Challenges and Program Strategies

An online course offers two distinct practical advantages over a traditional face-to-face course. First, asynchronous activities allow busy English teachers and researchers the flexibility to perform course activities when it is convenient for them. Second, physical classroom space is at a premium in the CELE—new construction is highly restricted because the UNAM is a UNESCO World Heritage Site—and thus the only way to expand course offerings is through cyberspace. Figure 1 presents contextual challenges and design solutions for the online courses.

Figure 1: Challenges and Solutions

Situational Challenges Program Strategies as Solutions

Teacher needs

  • Many of our EFL teachers need more up-to-date knowledge of writing pedagogy, and feel uncomfortable as writing teachers and authors; these issues are exacerbated by the scarcity of writing instruction in Spanish in the Mexican educational system.
  • Teachers teach full-time while taking the continuing education course.
  • Experiential learning in writing pedagogies and writing for publication.
  • Although a true writing workshop would have been ideal from the point of view of experiential learning, it was not feasible with the teachers’ limited time. Thus, a workshop limited to text analysis and other “prewriting” activities seemed to be the solution.

Researcher needs

  • Researchers require more linguistic and discursive knowledge of research article genres to publish more easily in English. 
  • Researchers had little time for a language course that would interfere with their regular activities; hence the asynchronous activities were useful. Others work in research institutes in other states and would only be able to participate online.
  • Genre approaches to writing; text and discourse analysis of research articles.
  • Online asynchronous learning.

Logistics of travel and space

  • Limited physical classroom space. 
  • Difficulty of commuting in Mexico City (because of its size and traffic).
  • Online courses.

Pedagogical Theory and Program Features

The continuing education course for teachers was structured to mirror the design of the course for researchers while also exploring the writing pedagogies underlying the activities. I drew on three conceptual areas of learning and teaching theory to support the design of the teacher education course. The course for researchers drew primarily on the second two conceptual areas and to a lesser extent on the first area. Figure 2 summarizes these conceptual areas and their manifested program features.

Figure 2: Theoretical Concepts and Writing Program Features

Teacher Education and Adult Education Theory
Theoretical sources:
  • Reflexive model (Wallace, 1991)
  • Experiential learning (Kolb, 1984; Atherton, 2005)
Program features:
  • Teachers reflect on their experiences as learners, writers and teachers of writing. Researchers reflect on their experiences with publishing and writing, and interview other researchers in their specialization.
  • Teachers discuss how or if activities experienced in the course could be adapted for their own teaching situations.
  • Initially, the teachers’ course was conceived as a writing workshop in which participants would polish a research article for publication. For logistical reasons discussed later, this idea was abandoned, but the text analysis based on the genre approach was retained.
Social Constructivism and Online Learning

Theoretical sources:

  • Written interaction and knowledge construction (Lapadat, 2002)
  • Networked language learning (Warshauer & Kern, 2000)
  • Communities of inquiry; social, cognitive, and teaching presence (Garrison & Anderson, 2003)

Program features:

  • Structured discussions in asynchronous forums provide opportunities for participants to construct knowledge together by reflecting on previous experiences, linking them to course readings, and engaging in critical discussions of the texts. Discussions should be characterized by “trust, a sense of belonging to a critical community, willingness to engage in discourse, a conversational tone, and a questioning attitude” (Garrison & Anderson, 2003, p. 81). In some activities, participants must post discussion questions to the group. In all cases, they must respond to at least one other post.
Writing Pedagogy

Theoretical sources

  • Process Approach (Raimes, 1991; Zamel, 1976)
  • Genre Approach (Hyland, 2004; Swales, 1990)
  • Critical Approach (Casanave, 2004, chap. 6)

Program features:

  • Teachers reflect on their experiences, read about approaches (the three mentioned here), and connect them to previous experiences they have had as teachers and learners.
  • Participants (teachers and researchers) analyze published research articles they selected and share their findings in the discussion forums (genre approach).

Asynchronous online courses offer several opportunities for knowledge construction that are not found in traditional classrooms. Discussion forums can provide unique cognitive benefits to learners. Their asynchronous nature encourages learners to comparatively reflect across posted questions, others’ contributions, and their own reactions. Also, it encourages learners to critically compare their writing to others’ as they craft and polish responses. Furthermore, structured discussions in forums provide an “even playing field” for more reticent participants who might not speak up in a traditional face-to-face classroom (Lapadat, 2002).

Teacher Education As a Mirror for Praxis

The underlying concept for teacher education that drove the design is that teacher education and praxis can be conceptualized as an ecological system. In this understanding of teacher education, teachers should experience authentic learning that is significant to them in the methods and techniques they may later use or adapt for their students. That is, they should have learning experiences that are relevant to them not only as teachers but also to their (in some cases, new) identities as writers and researchers—because effective writing teachers are writers themselves. Conversely, for teachers to construct theory, they must bring to the course their experiences, professional identities, and representations of teaching-learning processes to examine and grow in them.

In this respect, the course for EFL teachers and the course for researchers mirror each other in design. Participants in both courses look at case studies of the publication process and analyze published research papers that are selected by the participants themselves. Also, both courses have a unit looking at metadiscourse using Hyland’s (2004) definitions in which the participants identify examples in their selected articles. The course for EFL teachers runs 10 weeks, and the course for researchers lasts 5 weeks.

The EFL teacher education course has additional components requiring reflection and discussion of teaching practices in many units. Early on in the course is a unit to explore and compare approaches to teaching academic writing—process, genre, and critical approaches. Some reflections are designed to encourage an expansion of professional identity beyond that of teachers to writers and researchers. Other reflection assignments ask participants to consider how relevant the activities they have just done might be for their own students, or how they might approach the content with their students. In some units, participants propose activity designs for particularly challenging teaching points, such as metadiscourse (Hyland, 2004), bibliographic citations, and critical discussions of plagiarism (Abasi, Akbari, & Graves, 2006). Figure 3 comparatively summarizes topics and activities for both the teacher education and researcher courses.

Figure 3: Topics and Activities in the Two Courses

Course for Teacher Education 
Topics and Activities
Course for Researchers 
Topics and Activities
  1. Current Pedagogical Approaches to Academic Writing.
    • Reflections, readings, forum discussions.
  2. Research Journals and the Publication Process.
    • Case studies, analysis of journal submission requirements, interviews, forum discussions, reflections.
  3. Research article introductions.
    • Reading, online interactive activities, text analysis, forum discussion
  4. Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusions.
    • Text analysis, reading, forum discussion
  5. Hedging and Metadiscourse.
    • Text analysis, reading, online interactive activities, forum discussion, activity design proposals, reflection.
  6. Bibliographies, Citation Practices, and Plagiarism.
    • Activity design, discussion, reflection.
  7. Research Article Abstracts.
    • Text analysis, reading, forum discussion.
  1. Current Pedagogical Approaches to Academic Writing.
    • Not applicable to this course.
  2. Research Journals and the Publication Process.
    • Case studies, analysis of journal submission requirements, interviews, forum discussions.
  3. Research article introductions and citation practices.
    • Reading, online interactive activities, text analysis, forum discussion.
  4. Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusions.
    • Text analysis, reading, forum, discussion.
  5. Hedging and Metadiscourse.
    • Text analysis, reading, online interactive activities, forum discussion.
  6. Bibliographies, Citation Practices, and Plagiarism.
    • Not applicable to this course.
  7. Research Article Abstracts
    • Text analysis, reading, forum discussion.

Examples of interactive activities include a multiple-choice activity with immediate feedback from the program in which the participants identify what “step” is being used in each “move” of a research article introduction (Swales’ 1991 Creating a Research Space (CARS) model). In another activity, participants drag and drop “metadiscourse” language into a portion of a research article discussion section (Hyland’s 2004 definitions).

The courses are evaluated on a pass/fail basis based on how many assignments are completed and provided they are done thoughtfully. Because they are not part of a degree program, a more elaborate form of evaluation has proved unnecessary.


The educational platform for the course is Moodle. Moodle offers several advantages: It is open source software, it offers a variety of learning tools available on the platform, and it allows instructors and students to easily upload files.

The UNAM has a policy of using only open source software, and many of its departments have talented programmers and graphic designers who collaborate with professors in modifying software for specific course or teaching program needs. Graphic designers and software experts in the Continuing Education Department of the CELE made changes to the basic interface of Moodle so it was more visually attractive, more user-friendly, and customized for each course. For the courses discussed here, I worked with graphic designers and programmers to organize the visual presentation of the course and create interactive activities. Figure 4 summarizes Moodle’s advantages and disadvantages.

Figure 4: Educational Platform: Moodle’s Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages Disadvantages
Open access software (free to download, use, and adapt). In its default settings, it looks cluttered and unappealing.
Instructors can easily learn how to modify course appearance without programming knowledge, and add activities or upload files without technical help. Advanced programming skills are needed to change the appearance and functioning if available options are inadequate.
Because the software is open access, it is constantly evolving and improving. It has a large variety of options for activity types and online resources. Some activity options seem inflexible and not instructionally advantageous.
Participants learn quickly how to navigate the platform. A reliable server and protected electrical system are needed to allow multiple participants simultaneous access. Small programming glitches appear at times.
Programmers can customize the software. 
A wide variety of software and files can be uploaded (Word, PDF, html, interactive activities designed with Flash, or educational software like HotPotatoes). 


Situational Design Limitations

The teacher education course has been offered twice, and the researchers course will be offered for the second and third time in spring 2008.

The courses described here could be called courses “about” writing. In both courses, participants go through the steps of text analysis using examples of the target genre (i.e., research articles), as one might do in preliminary steps of a writing course informed by genre approaches. However, participants stop there. They do not look at their own drafts, give each other comments, go through checklists or questionnaires, or produce a polished research article.

This was a necessary compromise in course design. Initially, I hoped to offer the teacher education course as a writing workshop, so it would indeed be experiential learning. However, it was too much to ask of teachers who may or may not have research ready at the time of the course offering; it was also too much work for a certificate course. If the course were offered as part of a degree program, then a reworked and polished article would be feasible as a course product for final evaluation.

In the case of the researchers, the course offered text analysis (i.e., discourse analysis) but no instruction on surface-level errors, which would be more relevant to their needs. In spite of this limitation, response was huge. Furthermore, course feedback showed that text analysis was extremely helpful and enlightening for them—particularly discussion of introductions and Swales’s CARS model (1990) and metadiscourse (Hyland, 2004).

I believe the researchers also welcomed opportunities to use English in a course that was essentially pressure-free (they could complete assignments in English or Spanish). Also, course evaluations and informal comments showed that many enjoyed exchanging ideas across fields. So, the course responded to a felt need, while not fully responding to researchers’ specific linguistic needs in crafting articles for publication. Hopefully, in the future, the CELE will offer more comprehensive linguistic services to researchers. In the meantime, the teacher education course may continue to generate interest in teaching academic writing among the CELE’s English professors, and prepare ground for a strong team of writing instructors.

Technology Shortcomings

Human beings adapt themselves to the limitations of technology, rather than the other way around; our technological aids to learning and teaching will inevitably come up short against the vast flexibility, depth, and richness of human cognition. At times, we almost do not notice the ways technology may be limiting our activities. In this sense, it can be hard to fully enumerate the shortcomings of educational technologies.

Moodle is an educational platform that has many advantages for small-group work, large-group discussions, and individual work. However, some educators may feel that the standard Moodle layout options need an esthetic facelift.

Additionally, there are two general concerns associated with online learning.  One is an institutional need for an up-to-date mainframe server and protected electrical system.  Another is participants’ need for equal access to up-to-date computers and high speed internet connections to the server.  If these are not reliably available, an online course can rely on text and images that do not require a lot of memory, and use chat and email for communication. The course also has multiple links to outside websites with videos and audio files to provide optional supplementary materials to the course content.

Looking ahead to future courses, I am currently planning a follow-up online course to the teacher education course that will be a writing workshop, and a colleague is designing one in a similar vein for researchers. In both courses, the participants’ final product will be a revised, polished manuscript to be sent to an academic journal. Though the course structure and learning processes for giving feedback, development of revision checklists, and so on are clear to us, my colleague and I still need to identify the open source software we will use. At present, wikis and other document-sharing software (e.g., Google documents) do not fulfill my criteria for an uncluttered intuitive interface where it is easy to add, read, and identify different authors’ comments, with earlier drafts easily accessible. We will probably continue to use Moodle; participants can work in small groups to share Word documents, which they can send as attachments to discussion forums. We also intend to explore the possibility of using instant messages for giving feedback on drafts.


Abasi, A., Akbari, N., & Graves, B. (2006). Discourse appropriation, construction of identities, and the complex issue of plagiarism: ESL student writing in graduate school. Journal of Second Language Writing, 15, 102-117.

Atherton, J. S. (2005).  Learning and Teaching:  Experiential Learning   [On-line] UK: Available: Accessed: 7 February 2008.

Casanave, C. (2004). Controversies in second language writing. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Garrison, D. R., & Anderson, T. (2003). E-Learning in the 21st century: A framework for research and practice. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Hyland, K. (2004). Disciplinary interaction: Metadiscourse in L2 postgraduate writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13, 133-151.

Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Lapadat, J. (2002). Written interaction: A key component in online learning. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 7(4). Retrieved January 5, 2008, from

Raimes, A. (1991). Out of the woods: emerging traditions in the teaching of writing. TESOL Quarterly, 25, 407-430.

Swales, J. (1990). Genre analysis: English in academic and research settings. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Wallace. (1991). Training Foreign Language Teachers:  A Reflective Approach.  Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Warshauer, M., & Kern, R. (2000). Networked-based language teaching: Concepts and practice. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Zamel, V. (1976). Teaching composition in the ESL classroom: What we can learn from the research in the teaching of English. TESOL Quarterly, 10(1), 76-76.


Alice Emery is a full-time associate professor at the Centro de Enseñanza de Lenguas Extranjeras (CELE), of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. She specializes in second language writing, language teacher education and curriculum design, and online teaching and learning. Her courses are offered to the UNAM community through CELE’s Coordinación de Educación a Distancia (

Book Review Book Review: Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling

Yowei Kang,, Doctoral Candidate in Rhetoric and Composition Studies, The University of Texas at El Paso

Gee, J. P. (2004). Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional schooling. New York: Routledge, 130 pp., paperback. 

Recent developments in computer and network technologies have led to the integration of these technologies into language teaching and learning (Levy & Stockwell, 2006). One of Gee’s main theses in Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling is that, if students’ learning environment has changed, how should (language) teachers adjust and modify their pedagogical approaches to address these changes? Gee’s proposition and answers to these critical questions make this book an excellent resource to study the influence of video games on the philosophy of education, composition, and language pedagogy; videogame applications to language teaching; and videogame designs. The multifaceted issues examined and covered in this book allow readers with diverse interests and backgrounds to explore the impact of video games on language education. Furthermore, Gee has refrained from using predominantly academic language to converse with his readers. Rather, Gee writes in a user-friendly manner for readers who are not familiar with applied linguistic disciplines.

To elaborate his thesis that human learning activities are influenced by the social, cultural, and economic milieu in which students, as well as teachers, reside, Gee develops eight chapters that cover various aspects of language learning using videogame technology. Chapter 1 briefly introduces all topics to be covered in this book by exploring many important issues about videogame technology in a language classroom. Chapter 2 challenges fundamental assumptions about what constitutes learning (to read and write) through video games. Gee points out that there is an urgent need to change from traditionalists’ “sequential, skill-based approach” to reading and composition instructions (Gee, 2004, p. 10). Gee argues that “learning to read is a cultural and not primarily an instructed process” (2004, p. 13). To elaborate on this proposition, Chapter 3 uses several case studies to scrutinize the close ties between learning, identity, and poverty or oppression. Gee also argues for the close relationship between learning and identity made possible through playing video games. Chapter 4 extends the discussion about learning and identity by examining how the simulated experience of videogame playing can help students with “imitative learning” (Gee, 2004, p. 54) and peer-to-peer interaction.

Although the first four chapters deal with the use of video games in teaching language, the following two chapters provide actual case studies about how video games have changed classroom dynamics, students’ learning experience, and language pedagogy. Chapter 5 examines the use of the real-time strategy video game Rise of Nation in helping students to motivate themselves for “an extended engagement” (Gee, 2004, p. 74) and to allow students to “assess their previous knowledge and learning style and make decisions for themselves” (Gee, 2004, p. 74). In Chapter 6, Gee proposes a concept, “affinity space,” to refer to a virtual space where students play video games. Gee argues that the unique spatial features of affinity space make learning through videogames drastically different from traditional learning experience in a classroom. In addition to the dominant sociocultural perspective in previous chapters, the last two chapters (Chapter 7 and 8) provide an economic rationale to justify the needs for integrating video games into teaching literacy, language, and composition.

One of the recurrent themes in Gee’s book is that video games will require language teachers to reconsider students’ learning experience and their own pedagogy. Taking a stance different from that of traditionalists, Gee (2004) proposes that learning experience should be emphasized over content (skills). Nevertheless, though Gee’s book provides many innovative thoughts on how video games can change language teaching and learning, his book fails to address an essential aspect of video games and their applications, common to many videogame players: the global nature of videogaming. Although earlier prototypes of video games are off-line and often played with a single and stand-alone machine, many massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) applications (such as World of Warcraft) are connected to the Internet and allow players from various geographical locations and cultural backgrounds to engage in these MMORPG games. The lack of examination of the effect the global nature of new videogame applications has on students’ learning environment may cause many readers to seek other books that adequately cover international topics more extensively. 

Despite these limitations, most readers will find that Gee’s book provides useful insights to address the emerging importance of video games to both ESL/L2 students and teachers. Gee’s analyses and insights will in particular help ESL/L2 to integrate videogame technologies into their teaching by making the best use of video games’ multimedia capability and interactive communication mode. Gee’s writing style and presentations of his arguments make his book easy-to-read for scholars and practitioners interested in video games’ impacts on language learning and teaching. Readers do not need any prior knowledge about video games and language learning to enjoy this book. 


Gee, J. P. (2004). Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional schooling: A critique of traditional school. New York: Routledge.

Levy, M., & Stockwell, G. (2006). CALL dimensions: Options and issues in computer-assisted language learning. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Yowei Kang is a doctoral candidate in the Rhetoric and Composition Studies Program at The University of Texas at El Paso. His research interests are video games and rhetoric, new technology, and composition pedagogy.

Convention Updates TESOL 2008: Featured Sessions

Supporting Our Interest Section

SLWIS Open Business and Planning Meeting
Madison Suite 3, Sheraton
Thursday, April 3
5:00-7:00 p.m.

All IS members at TESOL 2008 are encouraged to attend. The convention is our only opportunity to meet during the year, so these meetings are vital to our IS’s development. The open meeting will give us a chance to interact with our members and plan SLWIS events for TESOL 2009 and throughout the year.

SLWIS Special Event:
“An Evening With the SLWIS: Building a Community of Writing Teachers”
Meson Sevila, 344 W 46th St. between 8th and 9th Aves.
Thursday, April 3
8:00 p.m. onward

Talk about hot topics in second language writing and visit with SLW specialists. Cash bar and tapas/dinner-on-your-own menu available. Check the SLWIS booth in the Exhibit Hall at TESOL 2008 for a list of consultants and directions to the event.

Focusing on Writing Centers

Academic Session:
“Writing Centers, Language Acquisition, and Global Contexts” 
New York Suite, Hilton
Friday, April 4
2:00-4:45 p.m.

Presenters: Jessica Williams, Terese Thonus, Deborah vanDommelen, Saori Sadoshima, and Yunhee Whang

Jessica Williams and Terese Thonus will speak about the intersections of writing centers and second language acquisition. Deborah vanDommelen of San Francisco State University, Saori Sadoshima of Waseda University (Tokyo), and Yunhee Whang of Seoul National University will describe how their various contexts influence the practices of their respective writing centers.

“Initiating Change in College ESL Writing Support”
New York Ballroom East, Sheraton
Thursday, April 3
11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Presenters: Denise Alvarez and Shireen Campbell, Davidson College

A partnership between the college writing center director and an ESL writing specialist resulted in a pilot program that replaced segregated ESL classes with a writing-center based model of support. In fall 2007, the ESL specialist collaborated with mainstream writing course faculty to provide one-on-one tutoring for ESL students. Our session outlines the evolution of this program and discusses its outcomes, including better integration of ESL writers into the curriculum, support for more students than the old course-based model allowed, and increased faculty awareness of ESL writing concerns. We will share results from our semester-end report, which recommended changes in the admissions process, language assessment, and academic support for ESL students at our writing-intensive liberal arts institution and called for shared institutional ownership in meeting the needs of this population.

Discussion Group:
“Writing Center Support for Second Language Writers”
Madison Suite, Hilton
Saturday, April 5 
7:30-8:15 a.m.

Facilitator: Gigi Taylor

This discussion focuses on ways that writing centers can support the academic achievement of second language writers, including institutional research, tutor training, faculty education, materials development, student workshops, resource acquisition, and more. Participants will share their strategies for supporting individual writers and for developing strong infrastructures of support for second language writers across their institutions.

Additional Sessions of Interest

English As a Foreign Language Interest Section Academic Session: 
“Moving From Academic to Job-Related Writing”
Morgan Suite, Hilton
Friday, April 4 
8:30-11:15 a.m.

Presenters: Ulrich Bleisener, Lise-Lotte Hjulmand, Buthaina Al Othman, Jane Hoelker, Sally Harris, Ke Xu

Success in academic writing will not automatically translate to successful workplace communication unless students are taught the differences between rhetorical forms used at school and those used on the job (e.g., e-mail and memos). Presenters will compare and contrast the essential elements of academic and work-related writing. 

“Designing Academic Writing Tasks Using Corpus Findings”
Mercury Ballroom, Hilton
Friday, April 4
10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Presenters: Viviana Cortes, Iowa State University; Jan Frodesen, University of California, Santa Barbara; Pat Porter and Deborah vanDommelen, San Francisco State University; Diane Schmitt, Nottingham Trent University

This colloquium outlines sequences of activities presenters have successfully implemented in advanced-level academic ESL classrooms to help students use corpus-based resources and transfer target structures into their own essays. Presentations focus on

  • An interactive approach to teaching the grammar college writers need to effectively express a stance and limit or strengthen their claims;
  • Ways to develop writing fluency by using embedded and other complex structures that reflect grammatical patterns identified in corpus analyses;
  • The use of corpora to track the general academic and discipline-specific vocabulary learning of university-bound students; and
  • Sample activities designed for and writing samples produced by international graduate students enrolled in a research-writing-in-the-disciplines class.

Participants will leave with handouts that detail resources, key features, sample texts, and pedagogical applications to adapt to various educational contents.

Applied Linguistics / Second Language Writing InterSection
“Textual Coherence and Learner Writing”
Mercury Ballroom, Hilton
Saturday, April 5
8:30-10:15 a.m.

Presenters: Howard Williams, Teachers College, Columbia University; Duane Leonard, University of California, Davis; Soo Hyon Kim and Aziz Yuldashev, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

A writing student may find promoting coherence by using explicit cohesive ties challenging, often either under- or overusing ties. Writing instructors may either downplay the use of cohesive ties (perhaps partly out of frustration at overuse or erroneous use) or, conversely, place an outsized importance on them. The key to achieving an optimal balance between “too much” and “too little” lies in careful consideration of audience.

Howard Williams presents two ways in which cohesive devices are viewed within linguistics: (a) an implicit approach in many ESL/FL composition textbooks, which sees anaphors and transitional markers as “discourse glue” without which coherence will suffer, and (b) a cognitive approach that views such expressions as processing instructions to readers/hearers that are called into use after a language producer assesses the cognitive resources available to the audience and tailors his or her language cues accordingly. How different might classroom instruction look using the second approach?

Duane Leonard focuses on a piloted classroom approach that splits complete model essays on a sentence level into Theme/New, a division in which the essay becomes data to be analyzed, questioned, and challenged by students. Following model text analysis with a look at their own writing allows students to articulate explicitly how their essays may fall short, or excel, in academic writing.

Soo Hyon Kim and Aziz Yuldashev examine teacher feedback on student essays and show that it tends to be either vague and general or excessively focused on specific cohesive devices (e.g., however, therefore). Their study suggests that text-based comments on coherence should be linked to classroom instruction, and concludes with a discussion on ways to maximize the efficacy of feedback on coherence in L2 writing. 

Second Language Writing/Teacher Education InterSection:
“Nurturing the Next Generation of Second Language Writing Teachers”
Regent Parlor, Hilton
Saturday, April 5
10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Presenters: Diane Belcher, Paula Golombek, Joel Hardman, and Alan Hirvela

Second Language Writing IS members Diane Belcher, Georgia State University, and Alan Hirvela, Ohio State University, will address 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, will address what prospective second language writing teachers need to know about pedagogical methodology and course design.

CALL / SLW / EFL InterSection:
“Paradigms of Plagiarism”
Trianon Ballroom, Hilton
Saturday, April 5
3:00-4:45 p.m.

Presenters: Bradley Baurain, University of Illinois at Chicago; Cate Crosby, West Chester University; Sally Harris, Northwestern College; Hedy McGarrell, Brock University; Sandy Wagner, Defense Language Institute

Problems dealing with plagiarism exist in scholarship, journalism, and research and, more recently, on the Internet. Whereas some view plagiarism as academic dishonesty, or an ethical breach, others accept it as an alternate form of interpretation. Panelists provide insights into problems and perceptions of plagiarism and offer solutions both tried and new.

Second Language Writing IS Discussion Groups for TESOL 2008

Discussion groups provide conference-goers a chance to explore issues of interest in an informal setting. Given the new Thursday-Saturday schedule for the Annual TESOL Convention, some discussion groups are scheduled for non-traditional times.  Please note the varied time slots for groups this year and come join the conversation.

Expanding textual worlds in higher education
Lisya Seloni, April 4, 10:30-11:15 AM, Liberty Suite 2, Sheridan

Debating the use of computerized essay scoring
Deborah Crusan, April 4, 1:00-1:45 PM, Empire Ballroom West, Sheridan

Building teaching effectiveness through student feedback
Roxanna Senyshyn & Carla Chamberlin-Quinlisk, April 4, 4:00-4:45 PM, Regent Parlor, Hilton

Analyzing writing samples for research
Sheryl Slocum, April 4, 6:00-6:45 PM, Park Suite 1, Sheridan

Publishing in second language writing
Tony Silva, April 4, 7:00-7:45 PM, Madison Suite, Hilton

Why isn’t my feedback working?
M. Carolina Orgnero, April 4, 7:00-7:45 PM, Madison Suite 6, Sheridan

Collaborative partnerships in writing research
Jessie L. Moore, April 5, 7:30-8:15 AM, Park Suite 6, Sheridan

Writing center support for second language writers
Gigi Taylor, April 5, 7:30-8:15 AM, Madison Suite, Hilton

Should we use the ‘generation 1.5’ label?
Margi Wald, April 5, 2:00-2:45 PM, Liberty Suite 1, Sheridan

Announcements and Information The Seventh Symposium on Second Language Writing The Seventh Symposium on Second Language Writing
Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA
June 5-7, 2008

Foreign Language Writing Instruction: Principles and Practices
The Symposium on Second Language Writing is an international conference that brings together teachers and researchers who work with second language and foreign language writers to discuss important issues in the field of second language writing. The Symposium on Second Language Writing began in 1998 at Purdue University as a way to facilitate the advancement of knowledge in the field of L2 writing and to build a sense of community among those who are involved in L2 writing research and instruction.

Symposium: Friday & Saturday, June 6-7, 2008
Much of the work on L2 writing is done in the second language (SL) context, a context in which the L2 is the dominant language. This work has overshadowed work on L2 writing done in the foreign language (FL) context, a context in which the L2 is not the dominant language. The purpose of this symposium is to begin to remedy this situation by showcasing work done in FL (including EFL) writing. Keynote speakers will address current issues in FL writing and invited speakers will address FL writing instruction in their institutional settings, describing their institutional contexts, the writing instruction that takes place in those contexts, and the principles that underlie that instruction. We feel that this program will be of interest to both FL and SL writing professionals.

Graduate Student Conference: Thursday, June 5, 2008
The Graduate Student Conference on Second Language Writing is a special event held in conjunction with the Symposium. It provides opportunities for graduate students to present their research and scholarship on second language writing and receive feedback from peers and from established scholars in the field in a supportive atmosphere. Proposals for the Graduate Student Conference may address the Symposium theme, but are not required to do so. Proposals on any aspect of L2 writing or writing instruction are welcome.

Additional Information
For more information about the 2008 Symposium, please visit
For more information on past symposia and related publications, visit
Questions? Contact


Open Access to TESOL Communities

As of June 2007, open access allows all members to access as many IS and caucus e-lists and e-newsletters as they wish at no cost. There are no longer any fees associated with subscribing to additional ISs and caucuses.

To maintain a core membership for each IS and each caucus, members will be required to select a primary interest section and primary caucus. Members will be able to vote only in their primary IS and caucus. Statistics will be tracked only on primary selections.

However, e-newsletters, e-mails, and other correspondence issued for an IS or caucus will be sent to anyone who is currently identified with the IS or caucus.

A special Web page, called My Communities, has been created. It is accessible by logging in to the TESOL Web site and clicking on the My Communities link in the Member Toolbox.

From this special Web page, members are able to easily choose whichever primary IS and caucus they would like to belong to, as well as join as many other ISs or caucuses they would like. They are also able to easily turn mail on and off while on vacation, determine how they would like to receive their e-lists (digested or not), and manage their membership in the ISs and caucuses. They can also provide an alternative e-mail address at which to receive e-mail or e-news.

From this page members can also manage their subscription to other free e-services provided by TESOL, such as TESOL Connections, student e-lists, electronic placement bulletins, book updates, education program information, and so on.

TESOL hopes that the new Web page simplifies the entire e-list and e-news process, and makes information more easily accessible.


TESOL Board Approves Three New Position Statements

Position Statement on Terminal Degree for Teaching English as a Second, Foreign, or Additional Language (October 2007)

A terminal degree is the generally accepted highest academic degree in a discipline or field of study.  It is TESOL’s position that a Master’s degree in TESOL (or related area) can be considered the terminal degree for teaching positions in English as a second, foreign or additional language.

Position Statement on the Role of Teachers’ Associations in Education Policy and Planning (October 2007)

TESOL strongly advocates that authorities at all levels recognize the right of teachers’ associations to exist, and that teachers’ associations be accorded legal status. Furthermore, TESOL urges that authorities encourage the active participation of teachers and their associations in the process of transforming education, and in educational planning and policy making.

Statement of Principles and Preliminary Recommendations for the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Amended October 2007)

As the Congress and the administration look toward the reauthorization of ESEA in 2007, TESOL advocates that the principles outlined in this document be used to guide the reauthorization process to help ensure the academic success of English language learners. This is an amended version of the position statement approved in June 2006.

The full text of these documents is available on the Position Statements and Papers page of the TESOL web site.

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 (pre-K through 12, 2-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 (pre-K through 12, 2-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 manual)
  • 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 character or less) abstract and a 2- to 3-sentence author biography

Further information and book review suggestions are available from Margi Wald, SLW News Co-editor, at

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)

Submissions should be in APA format and include a 50-word (500 character or less) abstract and a 2- to 3-sentence author biography. Further information is available from Catherine Smith, CALL Column Editor, at

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 My 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 2007-2008

Deborah Crusan

Gigi Taylor

Talinn Phillips

Steering Committee
Subarna Banerjee

Cate Crosby

Charles Nelson

Tony Silva

E-List Manager
Youngjoo Yi 

Web Manager
Christine Tardy

Newsletter Co-Editors
Cate Crosby

Margi Wald

Book Review Editor
Subarna Banerjee

CALL Column Editor
Catherine Smith

Paul Kei Matsuda

Past Chairs
Jessie L. Moore

Christina Ortmeier-Hooper