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SLWIS News, Volume 4:2 (October 2009)

by User Not Found | 10/31/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Letter From the Chair
  • Articles
    • Negotiating Gendered Identities in the ESL Writing Classroom
    • Ten Things I’ve Learned as an ESL Writing Program Administrator
    • Second Language Writers and Creative Writing
  • Book Review
    • Review of Plagiarism: A How-Not-To Guide for Students
    • Review of Teaching The New Writing: Technology, Change, and Assessment in the 21st-Century Classroom
    • Review of Key Concepts 1: Reading and Writing Across the Disciplines
    • Review of ESL Writers: A Guide for Writing Center Tutors
    • Review of Academic Language for English Language Learners and Struggling Reader
  • Convention Updates
    • Special Session Report
    • SLWIS Special Event a Success!
  • Announcements and Information
    • Symposium on Second Language Writing 2009: The Future of Second Language Writing
  • About This Member Community
    • Second Language Writing IS Contact Information
    • SLW News: Call for Submissions

Leadership Updates Letter From the Chair

Christine Tardy, 2009-10 SLWIS Chair

It has now been 4 years since the TESOL board approved the addition of the Second Language Writing Interest Section, and it’s exciting to see how much the IS has grown in that short time. At TESOL 2009 in Denver, the SLWIS offered 58 sessions, InterSections with Applied Linguistics and NNEST, and an Academic Session on contexts of second language writing. We also continued the traditions of staffing our IS booth with well-known second language writing scholars and hosting our third annual SLWIS social evening, giving members the opportunity to catch up with old friends and to make new ones.

Those of you who were unable to attend the 2009 convention will be able to get a glimpse of these events through the special reports in this newsletter and by visiting the IS’s Web site. Thanks to Charles Nelson for revamping this webspace and turning it into an excellent resource! I would also like to give a special thanks to Gigi Taylor, chair of the SLWIS in 2008-09, for her outstanding leadership throughout the year and preparation for the convention.

A unique characteristic of the SLWIS is the active participation of and the strong sense of community among members. This year’s business meeting was again well attended and gave opportunities for participants to discuss areas of interest for future conventions. As the IS grows, a small group of SLWIS members is in the process of designing a survey of the TESOL membership to assess how our IS can contribute to TESOL in new ways, speaking to our mission of serving a broad population of the TESOL membership. Erik Johnson, Shawna Shapiro, Todd Ruecker, Gigi Taylor, and I will be working throughout the year on this project and look forward to sharing our findings at the 2010 convention.

The SLWIS now has over 1,800 active members and all signs point to continued growth and activity. Submissions to the SLWIS for the 2010 TESOL convention in Boston numbered just over 200—our greatest number of submissions since the IS was established. I would like to sincerely thank the following members for lending their expertise in reviewing these proposals:

Kyun-Hee Bae, Tara Bartlett, Bradley Baurain, Sophie Beare, Annette Bradford, SoYoung Baek, Cherry Campbell, Pisarn (Bee) Chamcharatsri, Karen C.C. Chang, Cate Crosby, Deborah Crusan, Angela Dadak, Norman Evans, Lilian Faraq Allah, Doug Flahive, Jan Frodesen, Sue Lantz Goldhaber, Lynn Goldstein, Helena Hall, Harry Harris, Andrea Hellman, Alan Hirvela, Raylene Houck, Suzanne House, Sunny Hyon, Angela Yi-ping Hsu, Atsushi Iida, Erik Johnson, Kyung Min (Kay) Kim, Sharlene Kiuhara, Ditlev Larsen, Alice Lee, Joan Li, XiaoMing Li, John Liang, Alene Litvinskaya, Kate Mangelsdorf, Paul Kei Matsuda, Sharon McCulloch, Hedy McGarrell, Grazzia Mendoza, Jessie Moore, Mary Muchiri, Amina Nihlawi, Silva Pessoa, Talinn Phillips, Lisa Ponzetti, Terry Pruett-Said, Margaret Redus, Laurel Reinking, Tanita Saenkhum, Lisya Seloni, Roxanna Senyshyn, Shawna Shapiro, Tony Silva, Sheryl Slocum, LuAnn Sorenson, Ivan Stefano, Emily Thrush, Yi-Ting Tu, Danielle Zawodny Wentzel, Mark Wolfersberger, Achara Wongsothorn, Ana Wu, Saihua Xia, Youngjoo Yi

As the fall approaches (at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere), I know that many of us are looking forward to beginning new projects, new classes, and new collaborations. I hope that you’ll be able to make use of and contribute to the SLWIS community in various ways in these endeavors—through the electronic discussion list, Web site, newsletter, or TESOL’s online resource center. If you have ideas of new ways in which the IS can help members connect or reach out to new members, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Articles Negotiating Gendered Identities in the ESL Writing Classroom

Marian Woyciehowicz Gonsior, Madonna University, Michigan, USA

In the midst of an animated discussion among students of various nationalities about a chapter in their advanced ESL writing textbook concerning gender roles, a female Albanian graduate student solemnly states, “A woman is cursed from the day she is born until the day she dies!”

That pronouncement took me so much by surprise that I barely knew how to react. I’m not exactly sure how I continued that particular class session, but the student’s words have stuck with me because they remind me of the importance of gender and gendered discourse in the lives of my international students. Gender, like culture, shapes who we are and, to a certain extent, who we can be in our writing. Because of this, I have always encouraged discussions of gender issues among my ESL students, but only recently did I have occasion to explore the specific ramifications of gender in the ESL writing classroom.


For this study, the term gender was defined as “a system of culturally constructed relations of power, produced and reproduced in interaction between and among men and women” (Gal, 1991, p. 176). In other words, gender was seen not as something someone is or isn’t, but something that is created in action. The problem to be addressed was that not enough is known about how gender as a site of intercultural conflict affects students in L2 writing classrooms. After all, our perception of the gender role assigned to us by our culture forms a key part of our identity, and our identity plays a key role in our development as writers (Brooke, 1991; Ivanic & Camps, 2001).

We learn how, or are socialized, to be acceptable gendered members of our society largely through the discourse that surrounds us: the images and texts that tell us how women and men are supposed to act, speak, and even think in our respective cultures. Those who travel outside their cultural and linguistic boundaries to live in another culture, even if just to pursue academic studies, may find that what was once an unproblematic part of their identity becomes problematized as a corollary to second language/culture acquisition.


In this short-term qualitative case study, I explored how the gendered discourses that surround ESL students impact their ability to succeed in the academic writing classroom. The student who participated in the study was a young African male first-year student from Kenya, whose writing experience consisted of self-described “descriptive writing” about his soccer prowess. Despite his having only this limited background in writing, the results of his placement test had brought him to the academic ESL writing classroom in which I conducted my research. This was the capstone class for the ESL program, a course rigorous enough for the university to deem it the equivalent of one semester of “regular” English composition. I had my participant fill out a preliminary questionnaire, conducted interviews, exchanged e-mails on a regular basis, and examined his writing progress from the first draft of an experience paper to the third draft of a multipage research paper. The study took place over the course of one 15-week semester.


My investigation had started with questions that asked my participant to provide background information about his gendered identities. Although Daniel (a pseudonym) originally denied the existence of any gendered power relationships in his native country, in a later in-class discussion, he answered affirmatively to the question, “Do most men you know consider women inferior to men?” (Cohen & Miller, 2003, p. 41). After the class, when I asked him to explain his “yes” response to the question, he commented, “In my country, more so in my community [the Luo tribe], male are always the final say and do most of jobs so as to sustain the family while females spent most of their time in the kitchen.”

The power relationship inherent in his statement reveals one of the gendered discourses he brought into the classroom. This is not to say that he acted differently toward males and females in the classroom but only that, according to the discourses he had grown up with, to be a male meant to “always” have “the final say.” Another discourse of power captured in this same statement has to do with his membership in the Luo tribe (recently in the news as the one that President Obama’s Kenyan-born father was a member of). In fact, tribal membership was quite important to Daniel. On one occasion he told me, “I can’t shy away from my community. Being a Luo in a country like Kenya is just wow.” Another time Daniel noted that many Luo are “the top government officials. These is because of theire academic background. They motivates us to go an extra mile in our education so that some day we can fit in there shoes.”

When one considers that in Kenya both political participation and education, especially English language learning, are gendered domains, the significance of this last statement becomes clear. For instance, despite initiatives to improve female participation, statistics show women making up just 8% of the Kenyan parliament (Mulama, 2007, who offers a comparison with Tanzania, at 30.4%). In addition, literacy rates in the country are also skewed, ranging from 77% for males to 70% for females (United Nations, 2008).

English use itself seems gendered as well, as Michieka (2005), for example, reported. Even though English is one of the country’s official languages and the language of instruction in schools, two related realities of Kenyan life combine to make English use among men more likely than among women. First, when a choice has to be made, poor parents are more likely to send their sons to school than their daughters and, second, because young girls often bear the heavier load of household chores, they are more likely to drop out of school. For these two reasons, males are more likely to attend school longer, receive more instruction in English, and use the language more often (Michieka, 2005). Moreover, English is seen as a vehicle for social mobility, and the imbalance in status given to English to the detriment of indigenous languages in Kenya is well documented (Bunyi, 1999; Musau, 2003).


A detailed analysis of Daniel’s words revealed two areas of gendered discourse he had brought into the classroom with him: social roles (including the possibility of holding public office) and education (including the ability to speak English). Nevertheless, the gendered discourses in which my participant found himself during the course of the study contrasted sharply to the familiar gendered discourses of home. Table 1 shows this contrast in graphic form.

Table 1. Dissonance Between Gendered Discourses

Discourses of power

Home discourses

Context discourses

Males as powerful


ELLs as powerful


Unlike the power-linked messages relayed by societal norms at home, the university in which the participant was enrolled had a student body made up of 77% female students and an ESL faculty made up of 86% female instructors. Power, represented by the ability to become an educated person and to hold a status position in society, in this case, as a college professor, was gendered. In addition, English language learning, which was a gendered pursuit and a mark of status in his native country, was not viewed the same in this new context. Rather, English language learning is something that has to be dealt with before students can study courses related to their major.

Before even dealing with linguistic issues concerning his writing, my participant had to grapple with the realities of the competing discourses of home and those of the academic milieu in which he hoped to be successful. Certainly, as students acquire the discourse of the academy, the discourse of power, they are often overwhelmed with doubts and identity issues come to the fore. Baynham has described such students as asking themselves: “Am I the same person that I was before I learned to speak/write like this or has the process changed me? If it has changed me, is the change some sort of betrayal of what I was?” (1995, p. 243). To these questions could be added, “If I no longer can play my male/female role as before, am I still the man/woman I was?”

In this study, the familiar discourses of gender, which is itself “a key organizing device in all cultures” (Van Maanen, Manning, & Miller, 1988, p. 7) and an important identity issue for students in their late teens and early twenties, were seen as a crucial aspect of the L2 learner’s cultural identity. Conflict between culturally based roles from a new culture and those that students hold dear as part of their home culture can lead to a variety of outcomes. As Daniel noted, he came to the United States to study in order to widen his base of opportunities. Paradoxically, studies have shown that “in some cases, these perceived opportunities [brought on by learning English] could strengthen the learners’ agency, and in others, they could fuel learners’ resistance to English” (Norton & Pavlenko, 2004, p. 3). As language learners often experience, before the longed-for financial gain or other opportunities are realized, the “shift in gendered perceptions of self” (or any of a number of different culturally constructed roles) has to be dealt with on a day-to-day basis. When students find themselves isolated by their otherness, “their cultural identities become extremely important to them” (Nieto, 2002, p. 65). In Daniel’s case, his writing exhibited a tendency to cling to the comfortable discourse patterns of the past. Orality, a quality admired in his culture, was an important part of his work, including dialogues inserted in his papers and numerous references to proverbs or maxims. He also made reference to soccer when he could, even in his final paper, which was supposed to be a reflection on his work in the course. It was as if he were repeating the writing focus that had previously brought him success in his own country. By focusing on discoursal elements associated with his home culture, Daniel was able to keep the academic discourse community in which he found himself at bay.


Much has been written about cultural considerations in the writing classroom, but little discussion has focused on the effects of gender—an important part of culture—in the same context. Clearly, more extensive research is needed in this area. The student participant in my study left the university where the research had been completed after his first year, transferring to a nearby university with a more even ratio of male to female students. However, his new university also featured a more racially diverse student body (25% African American, instead of 14%). In the end, though gender is an important academic issue, it might be hard to consider without also looking at other sociocultural topics, such as race and class.


Baynham, M. (1995). Literacy practices. London: Longman.

Brooke, R. E. (1991). Writing and sense of self: Identity negotiations in writing workshops. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

Bunyi, G. (1999). Rethinking the place of African indigenous languages in African education. International Journal of Educational Development, 19(4-5), 337-350.

Cohen, R. F., & Miller, J. (2003). Reason to write—intermediate: Strategies for success in academic writing. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gal, S. (1991). Between speech and silence: The problematics of research on language and gender. In M. di Leonardo (Ed.), Gender at the crossroads of knowledge (pp. 175–203). Berkeley: University of California Press.

Ivanic, R., & Camps, D. (2001). I am how I sound: Voice as self-representation in L2 writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 10(1-2), 3–33.

Michieka, M. M. (2005). English in Kenya: A sociolinguistic profile. World Englishes, 24(2), 173–186.

Mulama, J. (2007). Kenya: More women in parliament, hopefully—by way of the constitution. Retrieved June 17, 2009, from

Musau, P. M. (2003). Linguistic human rights in Africa: Challenges and prospects for indigenous languages in Kenya. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 16(2), 155–164.

Nieto, S. (2002). Language, culture, and teaching: Critical perspectives for a new century. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Norton, B., & Pavlenko, A. (2004). Gender and English language learners: Challenges and possibilities. In B. Norton & A. Pavlenko (Eds.), Gender and English language learners (pp. 1–12). Alexandria, VA: TESOL.

United Nations. (2008). Human development reports. Retrieved January 18, 2008 from

Van Maanen, J., Manning, P. K., & Miller, M. L. (1988). Editors’ [for series] introduction. In C. Warren, Gender issues in field research (pp. 5–6). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Marian Woyciehowicz Gonsior is an adjunct assistant professor at Madonna University, Livonia, Michigan. In addition to teaching ESL classes, she also works as a tutor in the University Writing Center. Her current areas of interest include incorporating Web 2.0 applications in the second language writing classroom, culture in the classroom, and cross-cultural gender issues.

Ten Things I’ve Learned as an ESL Writing Program Administrator

Melinda Reichelt, University of Toledo

I have served as director of ESL writing in the English Department at the University of Toledo since fall 2005. Our program is small. About 10 TAs (all enrolled in our MA program in teaching ESL) teach all the sections of ESL writing offered by the English Department and tutor ESL students in the Writing Center. None of these TAs have formal preparation in teaching L1 or L2 writing. Some international TAs have teaching experience in their home countries, but not experience teaching writing, and none have experience teaching in the United States. Many of our American TAs have no teaching experience at all. Teaching ESL writing at my institution is especially challenging because many of the undergraduate ESL students have relatively low writing proficiency when they matriculate and enter our program.


1. Running an ESL writing program, even a small program, is a lot of work.

As director of ESL writing, I do the following:

  • Decide how many ESL courses to offer each semester and how to staff them
  • Orient new ESL TAs each semester
  • Coordinate with the International Students Office about placement testing
  • Communicate with advisors about placement issues
  • Review applications for transfer credit for ESL writing classes
  • Administer and oversee the scoring of ESL writing placement and exit exams each semester
  • Create and revise syllabi/curriculum for three ESL writing courses
  • Create and revise 3 weeks’ worth of lesson plans for these courses
  • Hold regular staff meetings with ESL TAs, during which we discuss problems and ideas and comment on or grade sample student papers together
  • Meet individually with TAs to review their comments/grading and deal with problems/questions
  • Train TAs to score the ESL writing placement/exit exams
  • Observe TAs’ teaching or tutoring
  • Handle ESL student complaints about placement, grades, and other issues
  • Serve as a liaison between the ESL writing program and the writing center
  • Serve as liaison between the ESL writing program and the intensive English program
  • Handle unexpected situations (a TA who quit mid-semester; a TA with ongoing, serious health problems; two blind students enrolled in ESL writing classes; disruptive students in ESL writing classes)

The one-course load reduction I am given per year does not adequately compensate me for the time I spend on these duties. With recent budget cuts and close scrutiny of faculty workloads, however, I sometimes wonder if the administration will at some point question even this release time.

2. When I negotiated release time for my work, it was very important for me to be able to clearly articulate the many duties involved.

When I was poised to take on the role of ESL WPA, I had been at my institution for several years, so I realized how time-consuming the work would be. An ESL WPA at another university helped me carefully delineate the duties involved and urged me to obtain as much release time and as many resources as possible.

3. Much of my work is invisible to my department.

Because most of my colleagues in the English Department are literature specialists with no experience administering composition programs, and because the ESL writing program is small, it is easy for my colleagues to assume that little work is involved.

4. Invisibility has benefits.

Because I am solely in charge of the ESL writing program, I can make changes as I see fit without consulting a committee or going through red tape.

5. Nonetheless, it’s been important for me to continually document my work.

In case my release time for coordinating the ESL writing program is ever challenged, it is very important for me to document very carefully all of my work on the ARPA (Annual Report of Professional Activity) form for merit review.

6. If I want to do justice to my teaching and sustain a research agenda, I have to protect my time and use it wisely.

One time-saving device I have set up for fall 2009 is the use of a Moodle for myself and TAs to discuss classroom issues. In the past, we have had such discussions during staff meetings and one-on-one in my office, and we will continue to do so, but I hope that using the Moodle will both expand our discussions and increase efficiency.

7. Because of my workload, I have to make some compromises. I can’t save the world through ESL writing.

One of the main compromises I make relates to the ESL writing placement/exit exam. Students get one shot at writing an essay that determines what ESL writing course or courses they must take. The topics for this exam are bland but hopefully accessible, such as “Should undergraduate students hold part-time jobs while they are enrolled in the university?” If I had more resources, I would develop something I like better—and maybe I will some day. But for now, I continue to use this test because I know that no test would be perfect, and I want to concentrate my energies on improving the ESL course curriculum and TA mentoring.

8. It’s hard to operate with no permanent staff, so I rely heavily on the TAs and department secretarial staff.

ESL TAs in our program must undertake 5 hours of extra duties besides their main teaching or tutoring assignment. I select a second-year TA each year to serve as “Lead ESL Tutor” in the Writing Center, and he or she helps me prepare and mentor new tutors. In addition, I have begun asking one TA per semester to fulfill his or her extra 5 hours by developing program materials.

Besides these formal duties that I delegate, second-year TAs informally mentor incoming TAs. TAs have told me that this peer mentoring is critical, and I am considering formalizing this arrangement by assigning an experienced TA to serve as a peer mentor to new TAs this fall, as part of his or her official duties.

9. It’s been important for me to learn to delegate.

It is very easy to succumb to the temptation to do everything myself, but when I delegate duties to TAs, it not only enhances our ESL writing program by drawing on the available talent but also provides TAs with excellent professional experience they can document on their CVs and use in the future.

10. Despite the challenges—or maybe partly because of them—being an ESL WPA is very satisfying work.

I enjoy the interaction with our talented TAs and appreciate the interplay between the pedagogical issues we discuss in staff meetings and the theoretical content covered in the courses the TAs take from me. I also enjoy using my knowledge of ESL writing from my graduate studies, my own research, and others’ work about L2 writing, applying it to create (and revise) a curriculum that fits the unique context of my institution and its students.


On the basis of my experiences, I offer the following questions for consideration, aimed especially at readers who will be entering the academic job market soon and/or who are considering taking on administrative duties—or who are being asked to do so:

1. Do I have a realistic sense of the range of duties and time involved in this administrative work? Can the (potential) employer provide me with a written list of duties expected of me in this position? Is there someone with similar duties, perhaps at another institution, with whom I can discuss what duties might be involved?

2. What is an appropriate amount of release time for these administrative duties?

3. Even with release time, can I perform these administrative duties and still do justice to my teaching, establish a research agenda, and make good progress toward tenure? Will I be expected to be as productive in research as colleagues who do not have administrative duties? (The answer is probably yes.)

4. Is it possible to delay taking on these duties until I’ve adjusted to my new environment, better understood the context in which I would undertake the administrative duties, and established myself as a scholar? What would the consequences be of asking this question at a job interview?

5. If and when I do take on these duties, how will I manage my time and energy so that the duties don’t completely take over my academic and personal life?

6. If I take on these duties, what support staff will I have?

7. What parts of these duties could be delegated to others?

8. Will my institution recognize administrative work such as ESL WPA as scholarly activity rather than just “service,” which most institutions value less than scholarly work?

9. Can I develop a research project that interests me, enhances the quality of the program I administer, and will be recognized by my institution as scholarly work?


Brown, S. C., & Enos, T. (Eds.). (2002). The writing program administrator’s resource: A guide to reflective institutional practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Council of Writing Program Administrators. (1998). Evaluating the intellectual work of writing administration. WPA: Writing Program Administration, 22, 85-104.

Rose, S. K., & Weiser, I. (Eds.). (1999). The writing program administrator as researcher: Inquiry in action and reflection. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.

Williams, J. (1995). ESL composition program administration in the United States. Journal of Second Language Writing, 4, 157-179.

Melinda Reichelt is professor of English at the University of Toledo, where she directs the ESL writing program and teaches courses in TESOL and linguistics. She has published her work in various journals, including the Journal of Second Language Writing, World Englishes, Composition Studies, Issues in Writing, ELT Journal, Modern Language Journal, International Journal of English Studies, Foreign Language Annals, and the WAC Journal. She is currently editing, with Tony Cimasko, a collection of chapters on foreign language writing, tentatively entitled Foreign Language Writing: Principles and Practices.

Second Language Writers and Creative Writing

Pisarn Bee Chamcharatsri, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

By providing a view through a critical lens, creative writing allows L2 students to act as cultural agents who learn English to share their local cultures and learn other cultures as well (Pennycook, 1999). Using standard English in the ongoing discussion on academic writing in ESL classes forces students to use certain conventions that prevent them from stretching and expressing both their ideas and themselves freely (Canagarajah, 2006).

For this reason, I propose the use of creative writing. This type of writing allows students to express themselves and their ideas freely without worrying about making errors and mistakes. It also enhances students’ cultural background as well as their identities (Ivanic & Camps, 2001). In this article, I begin by defining creative writing. Then, I discuss two creative writing assignments—autoethnography and poetry—that teachers can use to promote intercultural communication.[1]

Some scholars define creative writing as a type of writing that opens up opportunities for student writers to take risks as they reflect, discover, create, and explore themselves and their experiences (Bishop, 2006; Moxley, 1989; Tarnopolsky, 2005). Other scholars might regard creative writing as nonserious and nonacademic, but I would argue that it allows students to create their own spaces in their writing.

Creative writing is aligned with expressive pedagogy. Expressive pedagogy can be understood as the process of writing in which writers’ selves and voices are present (Burnham, 2001; Cherry, 1998; Ivanic & Camps, 2001). As Selfe and Rodi stated (1980), “expressive composition [or writing] . . . refers to the definition or discovery of personal identity and the expression of self through writing” (p. 169). It is similar to a “contact zone” (Pratt, 1991, p. 33) or a “safe house” (Canagarajah, 1997, p. 174) because it allows students to expand their sense of themselves and explore different styles of writing, different writing voices, and their own experiences. In other words, writing is not detached from but directly related to the writer’s self-expression and discovery. An important aspect of this process is the writer’s reflection on his or her own social and cultural contexts.

The following excerpt, from an autoethnography, was written by Ana (all names are pseudonyms), an ESL student who came from Taiwan to study in an American university for a year. In her paper, titled “How Does English Have a Significant Impact on My Life?,” she discusses her experience of learning English in Taiwan when she was younger.

My mother said, “It was not my decision to force you and your brother to learn English, it was you telling me that you wanted to study English.” . . . I was the youngest student in my English class, and I was so frustrated. . . . Being inconfident and stressed, I refused to go to the class and started to dislike English at that moment. I was glad I did so, because after a few weeks, I had developed a sense of achievement in English. . . . English turned out to be my best companion, which really took a vital part in my life. It is so amazing to get along with people and know different cultures. Life is full of adventures, novelties, and warmness. I like the world, the people, and the life, and myself.

In this case, Ana discusses her learning experience and the frustration she had at the beginning of her learning process. Ana, at first, did not know anything about the English language and the culture that comes with it. She learned more about English culture when she went to England for an intensive course. She reflected in her paper that in the United States, she needed to speak up and be more expressive when she did not understand the lesson in class; in her culture, she did not dare to question teachers out loud. Rather, she went to see her teacher during office hours to clarify the content so that other students would not think that she was behind or could not understand lessons. When she came to the United States to learn English and its culture, she was really nervous at first, but by taking chances, she would gain more experiences in a different culture. She started to raise her hand and asked teachers to repeat or to give more examples so that she could understand the lesson. After that, she started sharing her ideas and expressed her feelings by the end of the course. The struggle paid off in the end because she felt that she could communicate and share her culture with others (Chamcharatsri, 2009; Pavlenko, 2007).

Sam’s creative writing is in the form of a poem. Poetry brings out students’ voices and selves in different forms. Students are asked by the professor who is in charge of this ESL composition section to find examples of poems both in their native language and in English. Students are also asked to analyze both their native poetry in terms of structure and word choice, themes, or topics of the poems. Then they had a chance to write their own poems and read their poems aloud to the whole class. By reading aloud, students get a chance to explain what their poem is about, sharing their culture with others, and at the same time, students will answer questions from friends who do not share the same cultural background. Sam’s poem describes a Japanese alcoholic drink:


Do not mix with soda.
Just on the rocks.

As if I’m in a flower garden.
Wait till
Your glass wears lots of tiny dots of water
Feel it,
The way of the Japanese

The question “Why poetry?” has been raised. Poetry writing is a task that asks students to reflect on their personal experiences. This written assignment is a valuable task that allows L2 students to explicitly express themselves. “Poetry writing [in the L2] should emphasize self-expression and . . . meaningful and personal language interaction. . . . [W]hen writing poetry, [L2 learners] should be encouraged to explore . . . new language [and ways] to express their experiences” (Hanauer, 2004, p. 57). Besides, when writing poetry, L2 learners are free to express themselves without worrying about structure and grammar, which most of the time inhibits learning and creativity. When students do not worry about structure and grammar, they will be more expressive and play with language at the same time. Hanauer (2004) points out that poetry writing helps L2 learners to “express their experiences, thoughts, and feelings, . . . [and] complex ideas [by] using simple vocabulary and syntactic structures” (p. 76).

These writing tasks, autoethnography and poetry writing, can emancipate ESL students by valuing their cultural background. This could be connected to Kramsch’s (1998) idea that language and culture are woven in a complex relationship. When students, especially ESL students, feel comfortable and confident in expressing themselves in the language they are learning, they will be able to successfully communicate their understanding of other cultures as well as share their culture with others (Kumaravadivelu, 2008). All in all, creative writing can be implemented in class to promote intercultural communication and help students gain understanding of their own cultural background as well as the culture they are learning about at the moment.


1. The data of this study were collected from an internship with Dr. David Hanauer on teaching in the ESL composition classroom.


Bishop, W. (2006). When all writing is creative and student writing is literature. In W. Bishop & K. Strickland (Eds.), The subject is writing: Essays by teachers and students (4th ed., pp. 227-236). Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Heinemann.

Burnham, C. (2001). Expressive pedagogy: Practice/theory, theory/practice. In G. Tate, A. Rupiper, & K. Schick (Eds.), A guide to composition pedagogies (pp. 19-35). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Canagarajah, A. S. (1997). Safe houses in the contact zone: Coping strategies of African-American students in the academy. College Composition and Communication, 48, 173-196.

Canagarajah, A. S. (2006). The place of world Englishes in composition: Pluralization continued. College Composition and Communication, 57(4), 586-619.

Chamcharatsri, P. B. (2009). Negotiating identity from autoethnography: Second language writers’ perspectives. Asian Journal, 38, 3-19. Retrieved October 15, 2009, from

Cherry, R. D. (1998). Ethos versus persona: Self-representation in written discourse. Written Communication, 15(3), 384-410.

Hanauer, D. I. (2004). Poetry and the meaning of life. Toronto: Pippin.

Ivanic, R., & Camps, D. (2001). I am how I sound: Voice as self-representation in L2 writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 10(1-2), 3-33.

Kramsch, C. (1998). Language and culture. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (2008). Cultural globalization and language education. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Moxley, J. M. (1989). Tearing down the walls: Engaging the imagination. In J. M. Moxley (Ed.), Creative writing in America: Theory and pedagogy (pp. 25-46). Urbana, IL: NCTE.

Pavlenko, A. (2007). Autobiographic narratives as data in applied linguistics. Applied Linguistics, 28(2), 163-188.

Pennycook, A. (1999). Introduction: Critical approaches to TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 33(3), 329-348.

Pratt, M. L. (1991). Arts of the contact zone. Profession, 91, 33-40.

Selfe, C. L., & Rodi, S. (1980). An invention heuristic for expressive writing. College Composition and Communication, 31(2), 169-174.

Tarnopolsky, O. (2005). Creative EFL writing as a means of intensifying English writing skill acquisition: A Ukrainian experience. TESL Canada Journal, 23(1), 76-88.

Pisarn Bee Chamcharatsri is a doctoral candidate in composition and TESOL at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include second language writing, cross-cultural communication, world Englishes, and discourse analysis.

Book Review Review of Plagiarism: A How-Not-To Guide for Students

Jessie L. Moore, Elon University, North Carolina, USA

Gilmore, B. (2009). Plagiarism: A how-not-to guide for students. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 104 pp., paperback.

Written for high school students, Gilmore’s book masterfully navigates the challenges of teaching students how to use source material ethically while helping readers examine why they should avoid plagiarism. Gilmore situates his discussion within a broader conversation about schools’ cultural expectations for learning and resisting the temptation to cheat. Though these umbrella issues have the potential to sidetrack Gilmore’s focus, the text zeros in on helping students understand the rhetorical and cultural implications of taking responsibility for ethical and effective source use throughout their research and writing processes.

The book’s five chapters are straight to the point. Gilmore tells students that he “doesn’t aim to moralize about what’s fundamentally right or wrong, or to insult you by offering advice that’s pretty obvious to most students” (p. 1); rather, as explained in chapter 1, Gilmore aspires to help students avoid plagiarism by knowing what it is and understanding how to use source material responsibly.

Chapter 2 examines why writers plagiarize and highlights the murkiness of intentionality. Gilmore uses results from a survey of students at his own school to identify different types of plagiarism, and he integrates statistics from published studies to illustrate the scope of the problem. Unlike Charles Lipson’s Doing Honest Work in College: How to Prepare Citations, Avoid Plagiarism, and Achieve Real Academic Success, though, the book never sounds accusatory or lingers on the negative. Instead, Gilmore acknowledges the complex life choices students face, and, in chapter 3, he presents plagiarism as an ethical decision made increasingly more difficult by the changing “culture of the web” (p. 31).

Yet, Gilmore does not let students off the hook. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 all contain contextually situated strategies for using sources and avoiding plagiarism. In chapter 2, he includes an extended table on quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing source material. Chapter 3 provides a “reader response checklist” (p. 44) students can use when they elicit feedback on drafts. In chapter 4, he offers strategies for refining searches, taking notes, and citing sources using prevalent citation formats. Whereas Lipson too often reduces preventing plagiarism to learning skill sets, Gilmore introduces an array of strategies situated within the writing process. He prompts students to reflect on which strategies work best for them in specific situations, and he often reminds students to turn to their teachers for help when considering how a strategy might apply to a new assignment.

Gilmore concludes in chapter 5 by challenging students to take ownership of their learning. While admitting that grades have a prominent role in today’s culture, he encourages readers to remain attentive to their learning. He offers several suggestions for both finding entry points into assignments and staying conscious of personal learning goals throughout the writing process.

An appendix rounds out the book, offering entertaining MLA and APA citation examples—“Copy, Ivana and Bea Careful, eds.” (p. 87)—for commonly encountered types of sources. This sense of humor carries throughout the book, most notably when Gilmore self-critiques his integrated conversations with his readers. High school students might roll their eyes at this rhetorical move, but it achieves its desired effect. The pseudo-conversations engage readers and invite them to see their own roles in broader conversations about plagiarism.

Every chapter has a case study, designed to invite students to learn more about an instance of plagiarism and to discuss its implications. Gilmore’s “Talking Points” that accompany each case study encourage readers to explore the grey areas of plagiarism: the unintentional internalization of another writer’s words, the ramifications for the accused plagiarist and others in the case, and the contextual politics of applying penalties for plagiarism. These case studies bring students into the discussion and invite them actively to avoid plagiarizing in their own writing.

“Voices From the Classroom” boxes throughout the book insert the voices of other teen writers and ask readers to consider how they relate to these statements about source use, plagiarism, and cheating. “Write to the Point” activities inspire further reflection and prompt students to connect strategies and examples to their own experiences as writers.

If Gilmore’s text elicits any quibbles from teen readers and their teachers, they likely will center on his organization. The text moves back and forth between the ethics of plagiarism and strategies for effective source use. While the interspersed main points of the text help illustrate responsible source use as a rhetorically situated part of the writing process, a few points seem to put the cart before the horse, emphasizing how to avoid plagiarism before Gilmore fully articulates why the U.S. academic community cares about plagiarism. Second language writing teachers also may be disappointed by an underdeveloped reference to variations in source use across students’ home cultures. A student quote briefly introduces the differences in expectations for source use among cultures, but the text never explores this additional consideration for second language writers.

Nevertheless, in what is a brief and accessible guide to academic honesty and source use in writing, Gilmore successfully presents a wealth of relevant strategies and invites students to take ownership of the strategies that work for them. His text is an excellent resource for any classroom in which students engage in writing assignments.


Lipson, C. (2004). Doing honest work in college: How to prepare citations, avoid plagiarism, and achieve real academic success. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Jessie L. Moore, an assistant professor of professional writing and rhetoric at Elon University, is a past chair of the Second Language Writing IS. She coordinates the first-year writing program at Elon University, and her current research focuses on using service-learning and reacting pedagogies in introductory TESOL courses.

Review of Teaching The New Writing: Technology, Change, and Assessment in the 21st-Century Classroom

Charles Nelson, Kean University

Herrington, A., Hodgson, K., & Moran, C. (Eds.). Teaching the new writing: Technology, change, and assessment in the 21st-century classroom. New York & London: Teachers College Press. 240 pp. paperback.

On January 31, 2007, Michael Wesch, assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, posted on YouTube a four-and-a-half minute video titled “Web 2.0 . . . The Machine is Us/ing Us.” Since that time, the video has been viewed more than nine million times and has become emblematic of the technological changes that are occurring in communication, changes that are affecting modern literacies and writing instruction. At the same time, standardized testing emphasizes traditional print approaches to writing. In tackling the conflict between these new technologies and standardized assessment, the 17 teacher-authors of Teaching the New Writing: Technology, Change, and Assessment in the 21st-Century Classroom detail how they are integrating technology into their teaching practices.

Consisting of 12 chapters, this book is divided into three sections that look at digital writing in elementary and middle school, secondary school, and college classrooms, respectively, and an introductory chapter setting the context.

Chapter 1 gives a history of computers in the writing classroom, reviews standardized writing assessment, and discusses the effects of both on writing, along with implications for curricula, recommending curricula that “teach students to use new media to compose, communicate with others for a range of purposes, and understand and act in the world around them” (p. 14).

Part I considers composing in elementary and middle school. Chapter 2 narrates how rural second-grade students learned to compose Web sites and how that affected the social nature of writing. The next chapter observes how new media can facilitate collaboration and revision in project-based multimodal composing. Chapter 4 reports on sixth graders using Microsoft PowerPoint to compose digital picture books for conveying science to younger students; in the process they came to understand better those concepts, concepts of composing, and the effects of technology on their composing.

Part II examines digital media in secondary classrooms. Chapter 5 looks at students’ blogging on topics of interest and sharing with students outside their school on the social network Youth Voices. The next chapter explains the role of a collaborative poetry video in affecting students’ understanding and interpretation of poems. Chapter 7—which considers a year-long, community-based, senior research project that includes a 10-page, traditional research paper and a multimodal presentation—shows how the inclusion of multimedia changes instruction. Chapter 8 details the composing of podcasts in a speech class, which led to considerable writing in the revision process.

Part III moves readers into the college classroom. Chapter 9 covers using electronic storyboards in a ninth-grade science class and in an MIT physics class. Although the expectations differ according to the students’ level, the storyboards are “the primary bridge between the research and writing efforts” (p. 155) and help to pinpoint areas of misunderstanding. Moreover, these tools “bring science and writing closer by opening new ways of thinking about composing and new opportunities to integrate the composing process throughout the process of scientific research” (p. 162). Chapters 10 and 11 looked at students creating multimodal documents in an advanced composition course and a first-year composition course, respectively. The final chapter reflects on the previous 10 chapters, noting how technology was changing writing and classroom practice gradually, and how teachers, although able to assess these new genres, had more problems aligning the multimodal practices with state guidelines.

I enjoyed reading this book, but three caveats should be mentioned. One is an uncritical attitude in some chapters. That is, students are considered to be “digital natives” (a term coined by Prensky, 2001) who, growing up with cell phones and iPods, can easily use other digital tools, such as blogs, wikis, and podcasts—a perspective similar to assuming that someone growing up playing table tennis will be at home on a basketball court because both games use a ball (cf. Kennedy, Judd, Churchward, Gray, & Krause, 2008).

The other two caveats are that the contexts of the chapters are limited to classrooms in the United States and focus on native speakers of English. (L2 learners are mentioned in only one chapter.) Naturally, one should be cautious when transporting practices from one culture to another, and from L1 to L2 settings. Having used blogs and wikis with my own, mostly Generation 1.5 students, I have seen how they engage students. Yet I wonder if there are significant tradeoffs in taking time for digital technology and away from language development. Then, again, as digital tools become a commonplace in school settings, perhaps such questions will become moot.

Nonetheless, Teaching the New Writing is an excellent introduction to the world of multimodal/digital composing. It provides models of instructors at different grade levels and in different U.S. contexts using a wide variety of digital tools. It illustrates the problems of aligning multimodal composing practices with state standards. It details how digital technology can facilitate collaboration, planning, revising, and an awareness of audience—crucial aspects of writing and of learning to compose. It is a book that invites reflection on one’s instructional practice. It is a book well worth reading.


Kennedy, G. E., Judd, T. S., Churchward, A., Gray, K., & Krause, K.-L. (2008). First year students’ experiences with technology: Are they really digital natives? Australasian Journal of Technology 24(1), 108-122. Retrieved May 31, 2009, from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon 9(5), Retrieved May 30, 2009, from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Wesch, M. (2007, January 31). Web 2.0 . . . The machine is us/ing us. Retrieved May 31, 2009, from

Charles Nelson is an assistant professor of ESL writing at Kean University, Union, New Jersey, USA. His interests include the role of networks and of technology in learning to write in a second language.

Review of Key Concepts 1: Reading and Writing Across the Disciplines

Moisés Perales-Escudero, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA

Smith-Palinkas, B., & Croghan-Ford, K. (2009). Key Concepts 1: Reading and Writing Across the Disciplines. Boston: Heinle. 256 pp., paperback.

Recently, the idea that academic literacies are multiple and better learned in context has gained recognition in English for academic purposes (EAP) and composition, leading to the emergence of, for example, writing in the disciplines (WID). Combining EAP and WID, Smith-Palinkas and Croghan-Ford aim to build the reading and writing skills needed by ESL college students to succeed in discipline-specific literacy tasks. Their textbook is organized into six chapters, each of which centers on one of the following disciplinary themes: college learning, psychology, international trade and marketing, American government, biology, and philosophy. Key Concepts attempts to address the multiplicity of disciplinary literate practices through a chapter structure that contextualizes pedagogical exercises within specific disciplines. However, the absence of insights and activities from genre theory and corpus linguistics is conspicuous, as are explicit discussions of the disciplinary variation in generic patterns and metadiscursive rhetorical patterns such as stance and engagement (Hyland, 2005). Despite these shortcomings, the book can still be useful to instructors working with lower intermediate ESL learners who have had little prior experience with academic literacy.

All the chapters in Key Concepts have a similar structure. They include a reading section with two subsections (“Skills and Strategies” and “Reading on Your Own”) and a writing section with three subsections (“Skills and Strategies,” “The Process,” and “Writing on Your Own”). The “Skills and Strategies” subsection deals with grammatical issues that can be difficult for ESL writers. These include fragments, articles, count/noncount nouns, clause combining, and sentence combining. The latter two are developed in great detail in chapters 3 through 6, which include discussions of several clause types, connecting words, and punctuation issues. Students with little practice writing longer texts in English are likely to benefit from these sections, as are those needing further practice in specific linguistic categories (e.g., the definite article).

The reading sections introduce well-known reading strategies such as finding main and supporting ideas and identifying sections and topic sentences. The sections include two texts (seemingly excerpts from a textbook chapter) pertaining to the chapter’s discipline, followed by a glossary of technical or semi-technical terms in that discipline (psychoticism, trade barriers,” cultural relativism) and comprehension activities focusing on those terms. The texts and the vocabulary are the only way in which the text addresses discipline-specific linguistic or rhetorical patterns. This shortcoming, however, is not due to a lack of opportunities to address variation. For example, the reading section in chapter 2 (“From the Social Sciences: Psychology”) discusses identifying evidence as a reading strategy, with a focus on statistical evidence. Students’ awareness of variation could have been heightened if other chapters focusing on other disciplines included similar discussions. Awareness of the linguistic and rhetorical variation in the presentation of evidence might help students to develop skills in reading and writing the different types of evidence that are valued across the disciplines. The textbook, unfortunately, does not include such discussions.

All chapters include vocabulary development activities focusing on the Academic Word List. These activities focus on the ideational meaning of the words, as well as their morphological variation, which research suggests is important (Schmidt, 1998). However, collocational patterns or textual colligations are not addressed, which is a significant omission. These activities are followed by discussion of and activities about a given text structure. The text structures included are definition, classification/division, problem/solution, comparison/contrast, process, and summary. Each chapter develops one of them. The treatment of each structure includes the linguistic cues that signal its presence, which learners are likely to find helpful. Also helpful is the presentation of paradigmatic choices that students can make in order to realize a given structure. For example, chapter 1 shows a range of verb phrases that can be used when writing definitions (“refers to” and “can be seen as”). This kind of activity can greatly contribute to expanding students’ ways of making meaning.

The writing activities closing each chapter ask learners to write a paragraph about a topic in their own field following the text structure in that chapter. Nevertheless, no examples from other disciplines besides that which the chapter focuses on are provided, and text structure is not discussed in the context of specific genres. The textbook seems to assume that practice with text structures in the context of a disciplinary topic will suffice to help students write with ease. However, genre theory suggests that generic knowledge is also necessary to achieve that goal. Such knowledge includes an awareness of audience expectations, the speech acts typically performed by the genre (e.g., moves), and the genre’s rhetorical purposes. For pedagogical genres, understanding how those elements are set up by an assignment’s prompt (e.g., a response or a critique) is critical in guiding invention and arrangement. These aspects of genre, however, are not addressed. The discussion of audience expectations and rhetorical purposes is limited to one page in chapter 4. The same chapter includes a one-page discussion of tone, which is treated by offering advice, such as “use formal language” and “avoid sarcasm.” No discussion of stance, engagement, or their generic and disciplinary variation is found.

Upper-intermediate and advanced learners may not benefit from Key Concepts, and it does not address many of the practices and genres students are likely to encounter beyond the first year of college. However, this textbook can meet some of the grammar and text pattern needs of first-year lower intermediate learners without much prior experience with academic English.


Hyland, K. (2005). Metadiscourse: Exploring interaction in writing. London: Continuum.

Schmitt, N. (1998). Tracking the incremental acquisition of second language vocabulary. Language Learning 48, 281-317.

Moisés Perales-Escudero is a doctoral student at the University of Michigan. His research applies genre theory and corpus linguistics to the teaching of academic literacies.

Review of ESL Writers: A Guide for Writing Center Tutors

William G. Trudeau and Austin Mayfield, Missouri Southern State University, USA

Bruce, S., & Rafoth, B. (2009). ESL writers: A guide for writing center tutors (2nd ed.). Heinemann. 256 pp., paperback.

This book is written for tutors helping nonnative speakers write better academic English. It includes (a) background information on language acquisition; (b) ideas and models for working with particular writing issues; and (c) discussions of larger issues that present for language learners in writing centers.

The need for such material seems obvious. Reviewing the first edition, Badr and Hassan (2006) noted that it fills a gap in the literature. Complexities facing ESL writing tutors are as diverse as the students they work with. ESL students bring distinct sets of writing experiences to tutoring sessions, elevating the demand for tutors who simultaneously give and receive learning experiences. As Young and Miller noted, “the instructor is a co-learner, and their participation develops in a way that complements the student’s learning” (p. 533). ESL Writers addresses effectively this tutor/student relationship.

The editors view the collection in discrete sections, related to the foci listed above. However, the divisions are not apparent in the text itself; only the introduction and table of contents reflect the divisions. No headings or cohesive summaries preface each area. Indeed, if the introduction is not read, change in focus is not apparent. This is less problematic in the first two chapters than in the final four, which include significant topical variety.

Chapters 1 and 2 help the tutor understand the language learner by differentiating among first language skills, needs for English, and sociocultural environments from which the need to learn English arises (e.g., international, immigrant, and children of immigrants). These chapters also introduce language-learning constructs (behaviorist, innatist, cognitivist, and interactionist) along with common hypotheses for explaining how SLA takes place. It is ironic, given the stated purpose of the book, that most attention is placed on the innatist model, which perhaps explains the lack of theory application to tutorial tasks.

The concluding section addresses larger contexts by exploring international writing conventions and tutors’ nonconscious familiarity with English, and by positioning tutors behind the eyes of ESL students. The editors also include the impact of L1 writing instruction on L2 instruction, language learners’ view of tutors and writing centers, and the experiences of English tutors overseas. The sense here is of leftover ideas and the final chapter, in fact, would probably be better placed as an introduction to the book. A real resource exists here, however, in chapter 17, “English for Those Who (Think They) Already Know It” (pp. 208-216).

The middle section is the nutritional component of the book; chapters 3 through 14 dissect methods for tutoring sessions, citing materials from respected sources and offering creative tools to employ. Here information is both useful and accessible. Chapter 3 stresses the importance of collaborative development of tutoring plans (written or illustrated). Chapter 4 reviews how a tutor’s language goal for the student (assimilation, accommodation, or separation) affects specific tutoring situations. Chapter 6 helps tutors exploit the ways ideas may be expressed in different L1s. Chapter 8 illuminates special problems of Generation 1.5 learners. Chapter 10 argues for line-by-line editing as a positive ESL activity and gives six specific error types for focus. During a valuable discussion on plagiarism, chapter 13 analyzes assumptions of American ideologies. Chapter 14 is full of creative tools for ESL writers such as “white-writing” (p. 178).

However, this useful section is organizationally barren. Some chapters relate only indirectly to the tutor’s work and seem more aptly pointed toward writing center directors. Chapter 11 explores the efficacy of asynchronous and synchronous online tutoring. Though such a discussion may be enlightening, tutors do not decide the basic structure of their center’s online services. Chapter 15 addresses trends in German higher education, with limited application for writing tutors. Indeed, 75-word topic sentences here suggest it was not written with writing tutors in mind. Concluding suggestions in the chapter rest on administrative decisions.

Other factors suggest the audience for the book is unclear. Chapters 2 and 12 provide relevant information of limited accessibility to tutors. Though chapter 2 introduces second language acquisition theories in a well-presented layout, the material can be overwhelming. Trainers’ assistance is required to digest the theories, along with more technical distinctions such as acquisition versus learning and errors versus mistakes. Though the authors provide a plethora of notes and references, tutors often require incentives to take advantage of them. A subject index at the end of the book has many topics so fore-shortened (e.g., “Farsi, 211”) as to be almost unusable for the uninitiated. Finally, the book’s markedly small font can be a little intimidating for undergraduates. ESL Writers can be all that it claims to be, but not without organization and a clearer idea of the audience in mind.

The book is probably not a good resource for tutors alone. Its popularity may arise from the little competition it has and the genuinely useful materials within. The minimal cohesiveness and the occasional article extraneous to tutors suggest reorganization would benefit the book’s effectiveness. Editors would do well to group articles according to intended audience: writing center directors, tutor trainers, and tutors’ independent explorations.

Tutors-in-training cannot use ESL Writers without guidance, and, even with supervision, relatively little in the book applies to them. The helpful midsection is useful for reflection and discussion for continuing training of experienced tutors. The editors’ specific goals for tutors, the intended audience, may not be achieved in one or even multiple reads of ESL Writers.


Badr, N. E., & Hassan, M. A. (2006). Book review I [Electronic version]. Asian EFL Journal. 8(2). Retrieved June 24, 2009, from

Young, R. F., & Miller, E. R. (2004). Learning as changing participation: Negotiating discourse roles in the ESL writing conference. Modern Language Journal, 88, 519-535.

Director of and instructor in the English Language Program at Missouri Southern State University, William Trudeau teaches freshman composition and works collegially with remedial and writing and tutoring programs. Austin Mayfield tutors writing and economics at the MSSU Learning Center and is pursuing his second undergraduate degree in creative writing.

Review of Academic Language for English Language Learners and Struggling Reader

Sharon Whitehead-van Löben Sels, Walden University, USA

Freeman, Y., & Freeman, D. (2009). Academic language for English language learners and struggling readers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

This book designed for teachers investigating ways to connect content-area curriculum for English language learners (ELLs) and to optimize learning. The text can be used for teaching a course in teacher education or as a professional resource to engage teachers in dialogue surrounding their practice. At the end of each chapter is an application section with questions for reflecting on, writing about, and discussing the information provided in the chapter.

In the foreword, Robert Marzano points out the challenges teachers face in the classroom. Secondary education demands high levels of competency and secondary teachers are “not trained to teach the basic reading and writing skills many of their students need” (p. ix). Marzano points to the fact that few “professional books in the marketplace provide strategies for simultaneously teaching secondary-level content area knowledge and developing the literacy skills of students who aren’t well prepared for academics” (pp. ix-x).

Academic Language for English Language Learners and Struggling Readers offers teachers an effective framework based on research to teach both language and content. The Freemans offer teachers a resource to improve reading and writing skills while providing the academic vocabulary necessary in the content area. The Freemans explain that the focus of the book is to “bring together information from researchers, teacher educators, linguists, and practitioners in order to clarify some of the confusions about academic language and provide suggestions for how to help ELLs and struggling readers succeed in school” (p. xvi). The seven chapters in the book take the reader into the world of the classroom using the information “from researchers, teacher educators, linguists, and practitioners in order to clarify some of the confusions about academic language and provide suggestions for how to help ELLs and struggling readers succeed in school.” (p. xvi). In the seven chapters, the Freemans deliver critical components for teaching academic language, the nuts and bolts about who needs it, “what it is, when and where it is used, the problems that textbooks cause, different aspects of academic language, how to write objectives to teach academic language, and how to engage students in effective instruction to build academic language proficiency” (p. xvi).

Chapter 1 describes the three types of English learners, “newly arrived with adequate formal schooling, newly arrived with limited or interrupted formal schooling, and long-term English learners” (p. 3).

Chapter 2 distinguishes between academic and conversational language. It provides a brief overview of Cummins’ theoretical framework, noting that Cummins “developed the distinction between BICS and CALP in order to draw educators’ attention to the timelines and challenges that second language learners encounter as they attempt to catch up with their peers in academic aspects of the school language” (Cummins, 2008, p. 71, as cited in Freeman & Freeman, 2009, p. 28). The authors also point to García (2002) who points out that in “order to acquire high levels of academic English proficiency, students need to be able to read and write academic texts” (as cited in Freeman & Freeman, 2009, p. 42). Also highlighted is Crawford and Krashen’s (2007) description of academic language as the “decontextualized, cognitively challenging language used not only in school, but also in business, politics, science, journalism, and so forth” (p. 17).

Chapter 3 delves into the academic registers of schooling by exploring the way teachers can plan instruction to help students with their oral and written language. This chapter examines some of the differences between oral and written academic language and how students acquire linguistic competence through membership in social groups (p. 47).

Chapter 4 leads the reader into an analysis of academic texts and textbooks and discusses the inconsistencies and authoritative nature of the content-area textbook. A figure is presented describing the different genres, features, and examples in the academic disciplines (pp. 94-95). The chapter provides ways to engage reluctant readers and discusses the importance of supporting students while reading and writing different genres.

Chapter 5 shifts the focus to supporting academic writing at the paragraph and sentence levels. This chapter provides an understanding of the different levels of academic language and provides teachers with the necessary scaffolding strategies to encourage English language learners to write paragraphs using academic vocabulary.

Chapter 6 distinguishes between “two types of academic words: content-specific words and general academic words” (p. 123). The chapter discusses “four keys researchers have found to be essential for developing academic vocabulary, and how teachers can write content and language objectives at the text, paragraph, sentence, and word levels to help ELLs” (p. 123).

Chapter 7 wraps up the discussion of teaching academic language and subject-area content with examples from teachers who have worked successfully with English language learners struggling to develop academic language. The Freemans provide a functional, practical, and constructive text for teachers intending to meet the rigor of English language learners in the education world today.

Academic Language for English Language Learners and Struggling Readers offers hope in this era of challenging teaching times. Educators strive to bring comprehension to struggling readers and writers. One way is through this discussion of academic language, which “is used to link prior knowledge and experiences with the generation of new concepts and cognition” (Wink & Wink, 2004, p. 98). The Freemans provide an indispensable foundational text for educators teaching English language learners struggling in the area of reading and writing in the content area.


Crawford, J., & Krashen, S. (2007). English learners in American classrooms: 101 questions, 101 answers. New York: Scholastic.

Cummins, J. (2008). “BICS and CALP: Empirical and theoretical status of the distinction.”In N. Hornberger (Ed.), Encyclopedia of language and education (Vol. 2, pp. 71-84). New York: Springer Science and Business Media.

García, E. (2002). Student cultural diversity: Understanding and meeting the challenge. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Wink, J., & Wink, D. (2004). Teaching passionately: What’s love got to do with it? Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

The book review coeditor for TESOL’s SLW News, Sharon Whitehead-van Löben Sels, PhD, has been working with English language learners for 20 years. She currently teaches at Walden University and her current research interest is multilingual education and distance-learning applications.

Convention Updates Special Session Report

Christine Tardy, SLWIS Chair

At the 2009 TESOL convention in Denver, the Second Language Writing Interest Section (SLWIS) offered three special sessions with invited speakers. The SLWIS worked with NNEST and Applied Linguistics to organize two InterSections, which are colloquia that address topics of interest to two or more interest sections. In addition, the SLWIS offered its annual Academic Session, featuring several speakers in an extended colloquium. This brief report summarizes these three special sessions.


Strangers Here Ourselves: How NNESTs Work With Multilingual Writers

In the NNEST-SLW InterSection, presenters addressed the question of how nonnative English-speaking teachers (NNESTs) work with multilingual writers, considering various issues through their own institutional and personal perspectives as NNES teaching professionals. Jun Liu’s opening paper, “Beyond NNESTs,” illustrated the prominence and limitations of dichotomies in TESOL scholarship, including the labels “native” and “nonnative.” Liu questioned the continued usefulness of these terms and asked audience members to consider possibilities for moving beyond this binary.

Next, in her paper “How NNESTs Teach Writing in EFL Contexts: Issues in EFL Writing Teachers’ Development,” Icy Lee examined NNEST writing instruction practices in Hong Kong, illustrating some of the constraints that teachers work within, such as limited teacher education in writing pedagogy, an emphasis on testing over teaching, a lack of student involvement, and teachers’ lack of confidence in their own writing. Lee offered several strategies for promoting teacher learning.

Moving to the context of writing centers, Lucie Moussu outlined how NNEST issues play out uniquely in her context as writing center director at a Canadian university. In her paper, “NNES Tutors Supporting Second Language Writers Outside the Classroom” Moussu described her attempts to learn more about the approaches that nonnative English-speaking and native English-speaking tutors and students take in working with one another. Moussu found that the labels “native” and “nonnative” were problematic to the tutors, who, in the linguistically diverse setting in which they lived, didn’t relate to these terms and were even, in some cases, offended by them.

Next, in “NNESTs Mentoring Multilingual Writers: Issues and Strategies,” Luciana de Oliveira identified issues that multilingual graduate students face in writing and then analyzed her feedback and strategies in working with these writers. She illustrated how sharing her own writing, writing strategies, and writing processes and adopting a genre-based pedagogy of building meta-awareness of genre features assisted her students in developing advanced academic literacy skills.

Finally, Ryuko Kubota’s paper “Hauntedness of Nonnative Writing” brought together the various contexts that the other presenters had explored. Kubota shared how hauntedness, defined as “the appearing and disappearing of nonnativeness in writing,” played out in her roles as an author, mentor, and language instructor. She concluded by considering how nonnative writers might negotiate such hauntedness in their texts and textual practices.


Writing Across the Curriculum and Applied Linguistics: Research and Practice

This InterSection highlighted the rich connections between applied linguistics and writing across the curriculum research and pedagogy. In the first paper, “Teaching Genre in the Disciplines—How Applied Linguistics Can Help,” Ken Hyland outlined insights from applied linguistics that can inform the teaching of disciplinary genres. He illustrated the need to consider genre and community together in order to build a full picture of disciplinary genres. Providing concrete examples from applied linguistics research, Hyland illustrated how disciplines use language distinctly, reflecting community assumptions and epistemological values. He then turned to the question of pedagogy, advocating an instructional approach that raises learners’ awareness of text forms, functions, and contexts, and illustrating how scaffolding can be used to gradually move from awareness-raising to production.

Next, in her paper “Write Like a Chemist: Drawing on Applied Linguistics Research,” Fredricka Stoller outlined the numerous contributions from applied linguistics research and methodology to a cross-disciplinary collaborative project in developing a disciplinary-specific writing course and textbook (Write Like a Chemist) for undergraduate chemistry students. Stoller described the ways in which applied linguistics scholarship in discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, curriculum and course design, language teaching pedagogy, writing pedagogy, assessment, and language knowledge base all contributed significantly to the Write Like a Chemist project. She provided interesting insights into how such concepts informed her cross-disciplinary partnership and how they were received by her chemistry collaborators.


Contexts of Second Language Writing

In the SLWIS Academic Session, six second language writing scholars explored the relationships among the many contexts of second language writing. In “‘Context’ in L2 Writing Pedagogy and Research: Emergent and Dynamic,” Lourdes Ortega began the session with a rich overview of context. Outlining various perspectives on contexts as external and lived, she illustrated how those perspectives influence both research and pedagogy. Ortega also called for a conception of emergent and dynamic context that takes into account not just intentionality and identity, but also “the discursive construction of contexts and the power of ideologies.”

The next four papers examined different contexts of second language writing. Meg Gebhard, in “Systemic Functional Linguistics, Teachers’ Professional Development, and ELLs’ Academic Literacy Practices in the Context of High-Stakes School Reform,” shared an ethnographic study of a fourth-grade teacher and her student, tracing changes in the teacher’s practices and in her student’s narratives over an academic year. Gebhard illustrated the interacting layers of text and context that influenced the teacher’s practices and the student’s writing, including competing ideologies of English language-learning education, disciplinary and genre practices, situational and register expectations, and students’ textual practices.

Next, in “Contexts of Adolescent ELLs’ Writing,” Youngjoo Yi presented a case study exploring how an adolescent English language learner (ELL) travelled across in-school and out-of-school literacy contexts. Yi’s presentation highlighted the blurring distinction of contexts through examples of the writer’s texts and interviews that often blended these contexts. She concluded by asking teachers to consider and take advantage of students’ out-of-school literacies in the classroom.

Ilona Leki, in “L2 Writing in U.S. Higher Education,” looked to the institutional context of writing programs in U.S. higher education. Leki shared research focusing on institutional requirements and literacy support for both undergraduate and graduate international student populations. Her work revealed obstacles that these students face in areas such as navigating university Web sites to identify admission and course requirements, moving between ESL writing courses and other university courses, and learning new departmental and disciplinary cultures.

In her paper, “L2 Writing in EFL Higher Education,” Miyuki Sasaki turned to the EFL context, presenting a study of the writing of Japanese university students who had and had not engaged in study-abroad opportunities in English-language contexts. Sasaki illustrated how study-abroad students in her study all made gains in their composition scores between their freshmen and senior years, while assessment of the writing of students without study-abroad experiences actually decreased during this time. Sasaki’s study argued for the importance of students’ lived experiences, regardless of writing instruction, in their overall writing development.

Finally, Paul Kei Matsuda responded to the session’s speakers, synthesizing the range of definitions and interpretations of context and illustrating how this complexity underlies classroom writing assignments and expectations. Matsuda closed the session by asking teachers and researchers of second language writing to embrace the complexity of context just as we ask our students to do.

For links to select presentation handouts or PowerPoint slides, click here.

Christine Tardy, SLWIS chair for 2009–2010, is an assistant professor at DePaul University in Chicago, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate students in writing, applied linguistics, and teacher education.

SLWIS Special Event a Success!

Deborah Crusan, SLWIS Steering Committee Member and Past Chair

This year in Denver at TESOL 2009, the Second Language Writing Interest Section held its third annual gathering titled An Evening With the Second Language Writing IS: Forging New Pathways in the Teaching of Second Language Writing.

The event, held at Marlowe’s in downtown Denver, drew a record crowd of scholars and teachers eager to interact and discuss burning issues related to second language writing as well as renew acquaintances and meet new friends from around the world. Among the invited consultants were Dwight Atkinson, Diane Belcher, Christine Pearson Casanave, Deborah Crusan, Alister Cumming, Luciana de Oliveira, Dana Ferris, Doug Flahive, Meg Gebhard, Lynn Goldstein, John Hedgcock, Eli Hinkel, Ken Hyland, Ryuko Kubota, Ilona Leki, Xiaoming Li, Kate Mangelsdorf, Paul Kei Matsuda, Lucie Moussu, Joy Reid, Dudley Reynolds, Tony Silva, Kelly Sippell, Christine Tardy, Gigi Taylor, Stephanie Vandrick, Margi Wald, and Youngjoo Yi. The IS would like to extend special thanks to our development officer, Tony Silva, and to all the SLWIS members who made the event possible.

Our event has proven so successful that the SLWIS Steering Committee has decided to organize an event to be held in Boston on Thursday, March 25, 2010, at a location yet to be determined. Mark your calendars now; March will be here before you know it! Look for more information in the coming months via e-mail and on the SLWIS e-list. We look forward to seeing all members in Boston where we will be Re-Imagining TESOL.

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

Paul Kei Matsuda and Tony Silva, Chairs, Symposium on Second Language Writing

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

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

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

The 2009 Symposium will feature distinguished plenary speakers who are internationally recognized experts in second language writing, including Carole Edelsky, Mark James, Ann M. Johns, Mark Warschauer, and Gail Shuck. A series of invited colloquia will address various issues concerning the future of the field. Some of the topics include the future of second language writing; assessment; EFL writing in schools; genre; defining “Generation 1.5”; the interface between second language acquisition and second language writing; systemic-functional linguistics; and second language writing.

There will also be two half-day workshops: one on error feedback led by Dana Ferris and the other on plagiarism led by Christine Tardy. In addition, a special panel will feature doctoral programs in which students can specialize in second language writing. The symposium will conclude with a message to the new generation, in a special session featuring well-respected, seasoned members of the field.

Concurrent sessions will address a wide range of topics and issues in the field of second language writing.

For more information, including the list of featured speakers, please visit the 2009 Symposium on Second language Writing Web site. To receive updates by e-mail, please subscribe to SSLWLIST. Subscription information is available at the Symposium Web site.

We look forward to seeing you in November!

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

To subscribe to SLWIS, the discussion e-list for SLWIS members, visit the Interest Sections page on the TESOL Web site and click on Second Language Writing in the list of interest sections. If you have not logged in already, you will be asked to do so. If you are already a subscriber, click here to access the list.

Web Sites

SLWIS Community Leaders 2009-10

Christine Tardy

Danielle Zawodny Wetzel

Cate Crosby

Steering Committee
Allison Petro (2008-11)

Deborah Crusan (2009-11)

Jennifer Mott-Smith (2009-11)

Saihua Xia (2009-11)

E-List Manager
Youngjoo Yi

Web Manager
Charles Nelson

Newsletter Co-Editors
Cate Crosby

Margi Wald

Book Review Co-Editors
Steven Bookman

Sharon Whitehead-van Löben Sels

Context Column Editors
Catherine Smith

Lilian Farag Allah

Four-Year, Private Liberal Arts College/University
Marian Woyciehowicz Gonsior

Paul Kei Matsuda

Past Chairs

Gigi Taylor

Deborah Crusan

Jessie L. Moore

Christina Ortmeier-Hooper

SLW News: Call for Submissions

SLW News is soliciting articles on second language writing theory, research, and pedagogy in all ESL/EFL settings.

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, two-year colleges, community programs, international K-12 schools, etc.). In light of the newsletter’s electronic format, authors are encouraged to include hyperlinks.


June 30 for the August/September issue and December 31 for the February issue.


Articles should

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

Please direct your submissions and questions to

Margi Wald, SLW News Coeditor
tel: +1 510.642.2652


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

  • follow APA style guidelines
  • be 600-900 words in length
  • include a 50-word (500 characters or less) abstract and a 2- to 3-sentence author biography

Further information and book review suggestions are available from the SLW News book review coeditors: Steven Bookman and Sharon Whitehead-van Löben Sels.


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

  • Software/Hardware (e.g., organizing systems or integrating software/hardware in learning environments to enhance writing instruction, assessment, or program evaluation).
  • Materials Design (e.g., using software such as Flash or MonoConc to design language-learning activities or materials that address specific language-learning goals, including discovery activities, practice exercises, storybooks, quizzes, or games).
  • Curriculum Design (e.g., using course management software such as Blackboard or eCollege to design e-courses, e-programs, or hybrids for second language writing).
  • Applied Writing Research (e.g., writing computer programs to identify lexico-grammatical features, discourse patterns, or errors/learner variation in writing, i.e., corpus linguistics).

Submissions should follow APA style guidelines and include a 50-word (500 characters or less) abstract and a 2- to 3-sentence author biography. Further information is available fromCatherine Smith, CALL Column editor.


This column welcomes both short and long submissions.

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

  • Statements of instructional problems
  • Classroom tips that worked
  • Resources and how to integrate them in classroom instruction
  • A recent article review

Topics for longer submissions (up to 1,200 words) include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Summary of research
  • Literature review with pedagogical implications
  • Book review
  • Lesson plans
  • Handouts and activity sheets
  • Proposed joint research projects

In order to ensure diversity of interest and coverage of as many areas of instruction in the field of EFL writing as possible, the EFL column encourages submissions on the following themes:

  • University writing classrooms
  • Pre-K-12 writing instruction
  • Learner communities in the writing classroom
  • Computer and the Internet in the writing classroom
  • Writing for tests (TOEFL and IELTS)
  • Technical writing as a booming genre in the EFL context
  • EFL writing instructors’ professional development

Submissions should follow APA style guidelines and include a 50-word (500 characters or less) abstract and a 2- to 3-sentence author biography. Please direct questions and send your contributions to Lilian Farag Allah, column editor.


SLW News welcomes articles, brief reports, and information of interest to those working in four-year, private liberal arts university settings. Possible topics include research, pertinent teaching experiences, possible lesson plans, and observations on issues and trends that apply to this area.

Submissions should be

  • short (500-1500 words)
  • include a 50-word (500 characters or less) abstract and a 2- to 3-sentence author biography
  • include no more than 5 citations
  • follow APA style guidelines
  • be in MS Word (.doc(x)) or rich text (.rtf) format

Procedures for submissions: