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SLWIS News, Volume 5:2 (October 2010)

by User Not Found | 10/31/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Letter From the Chair
    • Call for SLW News Coeditor
  • Articles
    • Talking About SLW With Faculty Across the Curriculum
  • Book Review
    • Review of Writing to Communicate Series: From Paragraph to Research Paper
    • Review of Writing in Foreign Language Contexts
    • Review of Writing Between Languages: How English Learners Make the Transition to Fluency
    • Review of Writing in the Devil’s Tongue: A History of English Composition in China
  • CALL Column
    • Coming Soon: CALL-SLW Intersection Newsletter
  • EFL Column
    • Introduction
    • Scaffolding Teens' Way From Reluctant to Confident Peer Reviewers
    • Helpful Phrases to Use in Giving Peer Feedback
  • Four-Year Liberal Arts College/University Column
    • Second Language Writing at CCCC 2010
  • Convention Updates
    • Friends of SLW Special Event at TESOL 2010
    • Selected Sessions at TESOL 2010
    • Second Language Writing IS Special Sessions at TESOL 2011
  • Announcements and Information
    • Symposium on Second Language Writing: 2010 Report
    • Symposium on Second Language Writing: 2011 Preview
  • About This Member Community
    • Second Language Writing IS Contact Information
    • SLW News: Call for Submissions

Leadership Updates Letter From the Chair

Danielle Zawodny Wetzel, SLWIS Chair, Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania, USA,

Dear SLWIS Members,

This year marks the fifth anniversary of our interest section. In 5 years, we have grown from 29 members in 2005 to 2,261 members in 2010. We have seen a community of practitioners and scholars form a presence within TESOL that is focused and effective. We have also been led by some remarkable people, including our outgoing chair, Chris Tardy, whom I thank for her careful work for our IS and for her mentoring of new SLWIS leadership.

For those of us who were able to attend the 2010 TESOL Convention in Boston in March, we experienced a full schedule of SLWIS sessions--so full that it became impossible for anyone to attend all of the sessions. Several members remarked how they were thrilled with the variety of sessions but also dismayed at the number of sessions they could not attend because of scheduling conflicts. In addition to the regular sessions, we also had five special sessions, including four InterSections and one Academic Session about exploring connections between reading and writing. Our business meeting was well attended, and participants expressed interest in exploring developmental issues for teaching writing, particularly across schooling contexts, as well as placement and assessment issues. Other topics were raised as well, and some of those were distributed to our membership through our email distribution list. At the meeting, we also reviewed some revisions to our Governing Rules document and then heard both Christina Ortmeier-Hooper and Paul Matsuda discuss a new Conference on College Composition and Communication position statement on second language writing and writers (NCTE, 2009) that TESOL can adopt over the next year.

We received a total of 170 submissions for next year's TESOL convention. This total decreased somewhat from last year's total number of just over 200 submissions. However, if we consider how the global economy has constrained some of our conference travel budgets, we might view this lower number as a consequence of economic hard times rather than a consequence of decreased interest.

If you or a colleague you know would like to attend the 2011 convention but cannot fund the travel to New Orleans, consider applying for special travel grants and awards through TESOL. While attending a leadership meeting at the 2010 convention, I learned that the grants and awards were not paid out fully last year because so few participants applied for them.

Several people reviewed proposals for the 2011 convention, and I thank them for helping me complete a vital process that can be difficult to manage over the summer months. These reviewers were

Rosa Bahamondes
Diane Belcher
Chung-Chien Chang
Martha Christiansen
Deborah Crusan 
Angela Dadak
Luciana C. de Oliveira
Kira Dreher
Norman Evans
Karen B. Fields
Doug Flahive
Meg Gebhard 
Lynn Goldstein 
Jennifer Greer

Matthew Hammill
Harry Harris
John Hedgcock
Alan Hirvela
Amanda Kibler
Ditlev Larsen
Paul Matsuda
Ryan T. Miller
Thomas Mitchell
Jessie Moore
Jennifer Mott-Smith
Amina Nihlawi
Christina Ortmeier-Hooper
Silvia Pessoa

Allison Petro
Talinn Phillips
Bevin Roue
Todd Rueckers
Gladys Scott
Tanita Saenkhum
Chris Tardy
Gigi Taylor
Emily Thrush
Paige Ware
Saihua Xia
Youngjoo Yi
Maria Zlateva

Our community benefits from the service of its members. We are only as good as the voices who contribute. Please consider increasing your involvement, perhaps by contributing to the newsletter, consulting with colleagues through the e-list, submitting teaching materials to the TESOL resource center, or simply sending me an e-mail with comments or suggestions for how we might continue to grow and improve. I enjoy hearing from you.

I do thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve our interest section. It is a privilege!


National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). (2009). CCCC statement on second language writing and writers. Retrieved from

Call for SLW News Coeditor

Margi Wald, SLW News Editor,

So that SLW News can provide members with the most current, relevant information, we are currently seeking a coeditor for the newsletter.

In collaboration with the current editor, the newsletter coeditor will solicit articles, reports, and announcements that address issues relevant to SLW professionals and to the various educational contexts in which they work. Together, the coeditors will work with writers and column editors to revise articles to ensure the clarity, organization, accuracy, style, and quality of written work. The coeditors will also work with TESOL to ready pieces for online publication.

Previous editing experience, attention to detail, and the ability to meet deadlines are essential.

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

On behalf of the SLWIS leadership, I would like to thank Cate Crosby, outgoing Coeditor, for her efforts and input over the past 4 years. Her commitment, both as coeditor and secretary, to helping the IS grow during its first few years is much appreciated. And, I look forward to continue working with members to provide relevant information on second language writing theory, research, and pedagogy in all ESL/EFL settings. Your input is greatly appreciated. 

Articles Talking About SLW With Faculty Across the Curriculum

Jennifer Mott-Smith, Towson University, Maryland, USA,

In the most recent issue of TESOL Quarterly, Matsuda and Matsuda (2010) argued that writing teachers should teach that "marked forms that deviate from the conventional usage . . . be judged based on the reader's perception of the writer's credibility" and that "writers can build their credibility by, for example, demonstrating the knowledge of the subject or by constructing sound arguments" (p. 373). These insights, and the others in the article, are important and useful for SLW teachers who strive to value and work with the language diversity that students bring into our classrooms.

However, as students move out from our classrooms, they may encounter teachers who do not accept any marked forms. As the "ESOL person" at a public university, I encounter many faculty who continue to enforce the use of standard U.S. English. At the same time, these faculty come to me for advice about how to deal with L2 students. In the absence of structures that provide ongoing professional development, I have found that arguing for the value of students' diverse Englishes is not convincing; what teachers seem to want is instructions. In this article, I outline instructions presented at the WID/AC Writing Exchange Conference in Baltimore on January 22, 2010. Providing other teachers with steps like these is an important form of advocacy for our students.


Think about the amount of time that you spend writing your articles. Think about the amount of focus it takes.

Now think about what you know about being 20, about how 20-year-olds spend their time, about how 20-year-olds focus.

Now imagine that the 20-year-old has never written a paper. Has never put together more than 10 sentences. Has never been asked to cite anything before.

Imagine that all this 20-year-old has ever written is short-answer test questions. Answers that came straight from a textbook or lecture, with no references expected or required.

Now imagine that this 20-year-old has to write a 10-page term paper, with proper referencing, in a field that is new to him or her, with ideas that do were not provided in a lecture or the textbook. What would that student need from you, his or her teacher?

Finally, think about yourself writing that paper . . . in your second language. What help would you need?


Teachers should assess their students' language backgrounds early in the semester. I give the teachers these questions to ask:

  • What language do you speak at home? in school?
  • When did you start learning English?
  • What languages do you feel comfortable in?

The goal is to have teachers learn inductively that language backgrounds are more complicated than native versus nonnative, that notions such as affiliation and ownership are important, and that a student's native language may not be his or her most proficient academic language (Chiang & Schmida, 1999).

I also ask teachers to assess their students' prior writing experiences:

  • How do you feel about writing?
  • Have you ever written an essay before?
  • Have you ever used notes in the text?

By asking these questions, teachers are giving themselves the knowledge to teach from where the students are. They are often surprised by the fact that, in some countries, composing essays is not common in higher education, using sources verbatim without quotation marks is desirable, and critical writing is not a choice under the political system (Fox, 1994). They may also realize that students have much less understanding of referencing than they had assumed. Teachers interested in L2 students find the answers to these questions valuable for the design of their assignments.


The teachers I work with are often concerned about grade equity. Grades can be equitable for students of different language backgrounds if teachers

  • Teach the cultural knowledge base that their assignments require;
  • Structure opportunities for feedback into the assignment so that students can make changes prior to receiving a permanent grade;
  • Provide an assignment sheet that is fully explicit about teacher expectations; and
  • Grade on substance and on the full range of tasks demanded by the assignment.

Building students' cultural knowledge base includes discussing the assigned readings and modeling the expected type of analysis in class. Sometimes I have to convince teachers that doing these things is not giving students the answers but rather leveling the playing field for culturally diverse students. Also, I tell teachers that having students write about the readings in a journal or online discussion forum is meaningful even when they do not collect the writing.

Building students' knowledge base also includes teaching how writers in the discipline construct knowledge. For instance, a science teacher might explain that scientists don't provesomething to be true; they only offer evidence. Or a history teacher might explain that the use of cause-and-effect words may make history sound inevitable or overdetermined. Instead of saying that the gay liberation movement came about as a result of the civil rights movement, a historian might write that the civil rights movement laid the groundwork forthe later movement.

Building a knowledge base also means explaining references to U.S. pop culture made in class. References to The Simpsons may engage some students and teach through illustration, but other students may become completely lost.

Teachers need to develop explicit assignment expectations. Teachers can do this inductively by examining assignments that they have given A's to and figuring out what's good about them. Also, teachers need to practice levels of specificity in their written expectations. For example, it is probably not enough to write, "Make sure to state your purpose," but it might be enough to write, "The opening paragraph must contain a statement of your purpose. The purpose is not what you are writing about, but why you are writing. It shows the relevance of your topic. It may be a personal connection or an appeal to currency or to your readers' interests."

Finally, teachers should grade assignments on the content and full range of tasks. Often L2 students are downgraded because of surface errors on the final (or only) draft. Rather than focusing on such concerns, teachers should give weight to the many other literacy tasks, including framing the topic, doing research, drawing on other texts, structuring the argument, rewriting, and responding to feedback.


I pose several questions to teachers overwhelmed by error in L2 student writing: Do you want to make the changes, or do you want the student to make the changes? And, what is important to change? If teachers want the student to improve grammar, I suggest that they focus on one or two errors that recur and are readily correctable. Though some teachers across the curriculum may find it difficult to read student papers in this way, it is important to encourage them to do so. I also encourage them to avoid focusing on things that do not obscure meaning, including dialectical differences. Giving examples of minute differences between U.S. and British English often convinces teachers that such variation is not error: U.S. "in the hospital" versus British "in hospital"; U.S. "make a decision" versus British "take a decision."

It is important to draw teachers' attention to commonly occurring cultural differences in writing style. When teachers have such awareness, they read student papers differently and make different margin comments. For example, sometimes students put the main point at the end. To U.S. readers who are used to knowing the main point at the outset, the paper may seem disorganized because they are not sure where it is going. Rather than commenting on disorganization, teachers could reread the student papers once they have identified the main point. Teachers may find that the paper reads more smoothly than they thought. In their margin comments, they can focus on the quality of the point, mentioning also that U.S. readers might prefer the main point to come at the beginning.

U.S. readers also sometimes find writing that is repetitive to be disorganized. I suggest that teachers look for evidence of organization and introduce students to chaining as an organizing structure. I also have teachers reread for differences in the paragraphs that they find repetitive. The paragraphs may in fact build upon one another, leading to a persuasive conclusion. When teachers reread in these ways, they come to recognize the strengths of the writing and can comment on these strengths as well as make suggestions for changes.

A third cultural difference that I often encounter is papers with an overabundance of background information. To some teachers, much of this information may seem off-topic. Rather than labeling it so, teachers can open a dialogue with the student about its inclusion. The student may have included it to lay the groundwork for the topic and establish a relationship between writer and reader. I suggest that face-to-face discussions may be more effective in getting students to change writing choices in such cases.


Recently a professor told me a story about an L2 student who got a D on a paper. He explained that he had been very explicit on the assignment sheet: Students should weigh several theories in the body and make an argument about which one was best in the conclusion. When reading the papers, the professor went straight to the conclusion and read that first. When he did not find an argument there, he gave the student a D. Of course, the professor could justify the grade by pointing to the explicit expectations, but I was astounded that he had graded a paper that he hadn't read. In light of this story, I encourage teachers to read and grade what is before them. Such an approach allows them to look for what the student did well, rather than only how he or she fell short of the expectations. It is important to recognize the tension between strict adherence to an assignment and producing one's best writing. Some teachers may find that students who change the assignment do better writing because they are more invested in it. Students who frame their own discussions and "write-to-learn" (Zamel, 2004) not only master content but also control the rhetorical situation. Such control may be key to second language writers' ability to establish credibility (Matsuda & Matsuda, 2010) and to become more invested writers and masterful thinkers in their disciplines.


Chiang, Y.-S. D., & Schmida, M. (1999). Language identity and language ownership. In L. Harklau, K. M. Losey, & M. Siegal (Eds.), Generation 1.5 meets college composition (pp. 81-96). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Fox, H. (1994). Listening to the world. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

Matsuda, A., & Matsuda, P. K. (2010). World Englishes and the teaching of writing. TESOL Quarterly, 44(2), 369-374.

Zamel, V. (2004). Strangers in academia. In V. Zamel & R. Spack (Eds.), Crossing the curriculum (pp. 3-17). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Jennifer Mott-Smith is ESOL coordinator and assistant professor of English at Towson University. She specializes in second language writing and high-stakes testing of multilingual students.

Editor's note: Overall, the SLWIS readership has shown great interest in this topic ¯ working with faculty across campus to improve support for second language writers. The SLW Newseditorial staff encourages members to share more ideas by submitting additional articles on this topic.

Book Review Review of Writing to Communicate Series: From Paragraph to Research Paper

Winnie Pang, , and Michael Burri, , British Columbia Institute of Technology, Vancouver, Canada

Boardman, C. A. (2008). Writing to Communicate 1: Paragraphs. White Plains, NY: Pearson Education.

Boardman, C. A., & Frydenberg, J. (2008). Writing to Communicate 2: Paragraphs and Essays (3rd ed.). White Plains, NY: Pearson Education.

Boardman, C. A. (2009). Writing to Communicate 3: Essays and the Short Research Paper. White Plains, NY: Pearson Education.

Ellis' "10 principles of Instructed Learning" (cited in Nunn, 2006, p. 6) summarizes nicely the classroom conditions that can optimize the acquisition of a second language. According to Ellis, effective instruction leads to linguistic competence by expanding students' knowledge of formulaic expressions and enabling them to gain a rule-based competence. He further argues that there needs to be a focus on form with plenty of examples, and though the purpose is to increase students' implicit knowledge of English, they also need explicit knowledge. On the back of each of the three books of the Writing to Communicate series, it is stated that "a combined process and product approach" is used. Each chapter indeed provides many models of composition written in the academic genre that is the focus of that particular chapter. Consistent with the product approach, the rhetorical features of each model composition are highlighted and their function analyzed to make explicit how they are constructed and used. Moreover, each chapter in Books 1 and 2 has a section called "Structure and Mechanics," and in Book 3 there are two sections, "Sentence Focus" and "Language Focus," that provide instructions on grammar points and conventions important in academic writing, such as cohesive devices and the use of coordinating and subordinating conjunctions. The purpose of these components according to the author is to "tak[e] students from the known to the unknown [and] allow students to slowly build their knowledge" (p. xi); thus, it appears that Boardman has taken Ellis' recommendations into consideration.

Ellis (cited in Nunn, 2006) also stipulates that students need to have plenty of practice and the focus of these practices should be on meaning. Moreover, both structured and nonstructured assessment should be provided while taking into account the different learning styles of students. In Writing to Communicate students are given a variety of practice for building vocabulary and for gaining understanding and confidence in using the language items that are taught. These language items are reviewed at a more sophisticated level in subsequent chapters and books. Boardman explains in her word to teachers at the beginning of her books that the methodology she employs is "teaching writing through recursiveness and scaffolding" (p. xi). Moreover, step-by-step training in the process writing approach, which focuses on meaning, is provided, while illustrations and graphic organizers are used as scaffolding to bridge what the students know with what is new and to be learned. Graphic organizers, along with thought-provoking questions, are also used to train students to brainstorm productively. All of these resources can be used for individual and group work.

The first book in the series, Writing to Communicate 1: Paragraphs, targets students at the high-elementary to low-intermediate level. Increasingly we find in our program that we are dealing with university-bound international students who require efficient and effective training in formal academic writing at the sentence and paragraph level. This book does an excellent job, and we feel it meets the needs of our students. Using personal yet interesting and academically relevant topics, students build their vocabulary, practice compound and complex sentences, and learn the rhetorical features of paragraphs that serve different purposes, such as describing a process, presenting reasons and results, and offering an opinion.

Writing to Communicate 2: Paragraphs and Essay appears to be the original book of the series and is now in its third edition, a testimony to the success of the approach taken by Boardman and Frydenberg. The book is divided into three parts with a total of 12 chapters. Part one is on paragraphs and has been shortened to serve as a review. The second part of the book defines all the components that make up an essay. Students are taught how to expand the paragraph, how to write a thesis statement and embed it in an introductory paragraph and, finally, how to write a concluding paragraph. Because students are provided with language and vocabulary support and with many models and practice samples that show variety within a structured framework, and because students are led through a process to think about the meaning and purpose of what they are writing, it is conceivable that the resulting student essays, based on the assigned topic in the Writing to Communicate section, will not all be identical or seem formulaic. The third part of the book introduces clearly the rhetorical patterns commonly employed in academic writing.

Writing to Communicate 3: Essays and the Short Research Paper aims to prepare students for university studies. Again, there are three parts. The first one looks at the different issues involved in putting together an academic essay, in particular the cause-and-effect essay and the problem-and-solution essay. The second part introduces students to the different skills involved in research: summarizing and responding to different genres of reading. Part 3 is where the students are guided step-bystep to do a short research paper; the first nine chapters in the book build up to this final task. The scaffolding of this final paper writing process is excellent: Chapter 7 is where students begin their research into the issue of "sleep" and learn to write a first draft; Chapter 8 guides students in narrowing the topic and focusing their research on the topic of sleeping pills; then, Chapter 9 presents the final steps of revising and editing to produce a research essay on the dangers of sleeping pills. Students are also encouraged to go through the important process of reflection and self-evaluation of their composition at the end. The readings and model compositions provided throughout the chapters are relevant and of interest to college-age students; we also noted that the little textboxes in left margin of these readings are thought-provoking and useful for students to interact and share their ideas.

All three books provide excellent reference material in the appendices. For example, the documentation style used throughout the series is APA. Therefore, for students bound for postsecondary education, Appendix 6 in Book 3 provides a useful and additional overview of MLA because upon graduation from our program, students will move into a variety of diploma and degree programs. One more thing we would like to add is that we find the themes used, such as "expressing emotions," "dating and marrying," "the five senses," the state of the earth," "the kindness of strangers," or "generation Y: hardworking or spoiled?" accessible and culturally sensitive. Some of them do present some aspects of American life and customs, which is useful and interesting for our international students, yet the articles and discussions do not give the message that the North American culture is the standard or the ideal. Writing to Communicate is an excellent book series and does an effective job in helping students master the art of academic writing.


Nunn, R. (2006, September). Designing holistic units for task-based learning. Asian EFL Journal: The EFL Professional's Written Forum 8(3). Retrieved from

Winnie Pang is an instructor in the International Student Entry Program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Vancouver, Canada. Her research interests include curriculum design and the teaching of academic writing.

Michael Burri is the program coordinator of the International Student Entry Program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Vancouver, Canada. His research interests include curriculum design, NNEST issues, and pronunciation teaching.

Review of Writing in Foreign Language Contexts

Atsushi Iida, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA,

Marchón, R. M. (2009). Writing in foreign language contexts: Learning, teaching, and research. Bristol, England: Multilingual Matters . 301 pp., paperback.

Marchón has edited a collection of articles for understanding L2 writing theory, research, and pedagogy in foreign language (FL) contexts. This book pursues an aim to "reflect critically on where we are now and where we need to go next in our exploration of FL writing at the levels of theory, research, and pedagogy" (p. 3). An innovative approach in this book--the authors revisit, reexamine, and synthesize their previous research on FL writing; make the methodological decisions that direct that body of work; and use that contextualization to emphasize the significance of their most recent studies--allows readers to better understand what is known about L2 writing in FL contexts and what needs to be addressed. This book presents various topics of L2 writing research in FL contexts: composing processes; textual-linguistic studies; pedagogical and curricular landscapes of L1 and L2 writing across FL contexts; dynamic EFL writing development across contexts; rhetorical repertoires available to EFL writers across their languages; and the struggle to write for scholarly publication in English.

This book includes 11 chapters divided into three parts. Part 1 provides empirical studies on the central themes of FL writing in various contexts. In chapter 1, Rinnert and Kobayashi clarify the relationship between the dynamic nature of writing practices and the change in individual writers' perceptions of writing and social conditions by investigating how previous experience and instruction in L1 and L2 contribute to the development of writing ability in an EFL Japanese context. In chapter 2, Sasaki inquires about the social-cognitive aspects of EFL Japanese college students' changes in L2 writing ability and motivation over 3.5 years in terms of how the length of study-abroad experiences in English-speaking countries affects the development of two variables. From the viewpoint of cognitive processes of composing in L1 and FL among Dutch secondary school students, Schoonen, Snellings, Stevenson, and van Gelderen examine the relationship among FL writing fluency, FL linguistic knowledge, and L1 writing proficiency in chapter 3. In chapter 4, Marchón, Roca de Larios, and Murphy investigate cognitive aspects of L1 and L2 writing, focusing on temporal dimensions of writing processes and the problem-solving nature of composing among EFL Spanish learners. In the remaining chapters of part I, the authors discuss FL writing research with consideration of macro-level policy issues. In chapter 5, Celaya and Navés explore the relationship between age and the development of FL writing proficiency among Catalan-Spanish EFL learners through their entire primary and secondary school education. In chapter 6, Flowerdew and Li review, with the notion of "globalization," their longitudinal research on Chinese scholars' academic writing for international publications to clarify how language is situated by these scholars. In chapter 7, Reichelt deepens a more global understanding of L2 writing instruction by exploring FL writing instruction in Germany, Poland, the United States, China, Japan, and Spain and provides a significant perspective in FL writing instruction: "local contextual factors shape writing instruction" (p. 202). This idea reflects the concept of context-appropriateness in FL teaching (Kumaravadivelu, 2005).

Part 2 addresses controversies in FL writing theory, research, and pedagogy with the retrospective analysis of empirical studies introduced in part I and provides suggestions for future research on FL writing. In chapter 8, Cumming conceptualizes the complexities of the current FL writing research by revisiting the studies on FL education in 1970s and guides future research on FL writing to expand definitions of "how foreign language writing develops, what it involves, and how it should be taught and assessed" (p. 226). In chapter 9, Ortega examines the prominent themes of EFL writing by examining publication patterns of the Journal of Second Language Writing and TESOL Quarterly from 1992 to 2007 and combines the findings with future research on FL writing from theoretical and practical viewpoints. In chapter 10, Casanave discusses the question of FL writing teacher education and pedagogical issues, analyzing the realities of teaching writing in EFL contexts by reviewing existing literature and perspectives of EFL Japanese students who are also English teachers in Japan in TESOL programs, and provides theoretical and practical suggestions for teacher education programs where students prepare to teach in non-English-dominant contexts.

Part 3 provides an annotated bibliography of articles about FL writing published since 1997.

Overall, this book enables L2 teacher-researchers to understand the prominent themes of FL writing research as extensions of second language acquisition (SLA) research and provides teacher-educators who administer TESOL programs in English-dominant countries with insights on how teacher education programs can better meet the needs of students who are future L2 writing teacher-researchers in FL contexts. It also introduces the significant stance-taking on L2 writing in diverse FL contexts for future research.


Kumaravadivelu, B. (2005). Understanding language teaching: From method to postmethod. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Atsushi Iida is a doctoral candidate in the Composition and TESOL Program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He has published in Assessing Writing, Asian EFL Journal, English Teaching Forum, The Language Teacher, and Translation Journal.

Review of Writing Between Languages: How English Learners Make the Transition to Fluency

Duane Leonard, University of California, Davis, USA,

Fu, D. (2009). Writing Between Languages: How English Learners Make the Transition to Fluency. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 160 pp., paperback.

In this book, Danling Fu examines writing development of immigrant English language learners at the late elementary and middle-school levels. Though the theory in her book applies to writing pedagogy for immigrant students who enter U.S. schools with at- or about-grade-level writing ability in their L1, her message of valuing-through-using the L1 abilities students bring into the writing classroom extends to students of all ranges of literacy in their home language(s). Her book is written for English-language-learning writing instructors at all levels, thoughtfully challenging status quo practices of writing instruction. As Fu notes, second language writing (SLW) research has shown that writing instruction for English language learners is often restricted to surface-level language exercises (Harklau & Pinnow, 2009) that do not incorporate students' first language into instruction even though research has shown that students' first language has significant impact on learning a second language (Cummins, 1979; Garcia, 2002). Thus, Fu's research is important for SLW instructors and researchers because it focuses on a gap in the literature. Her focus is how immigrant children (rather than postsecondary students most often focused on in SLW studies) who can already write at or about grade level in their first language use their L1 as a benefit as they transition into English (L2) writers as well.

Her first chapter articulates her 10 years of work in New York City schools collaborating with administrators, teachers, and English language learners at each level of the writing process. This chapter highlights not only the wealth of research from which her theory and findings stem but also her sincere commitment to espousing a positive view of the cultural diversity and expression such students add to her school district and, increasingly, across the United States. Fu's next chapter on theory politely sets aside longstanding models of L2 writing development, which have not taken into account students' L1. Refreshingly, Fu truly validates students' linguistic and thus cultural contributions to writing because she incorporates those factors into her literacy transfer theory. She combines Cumming's transfer theory of language (1989) and Moll's "funds of knowledge" theory (2001) to articulate findings from her data. When students are allowed to use their L1 during (and within) the acquisition of L2 writing, four stages of development emerge: Stage 1, first language; Stage 2, code-switching or mixed language; Stage 3, interlanguage; and Stage 4, close to standard English. This multilingual theory of SLW development exemplifies my understanding of Atkinson's "post-process" approach (2003) to SLW research. In her own experience as a Mandarin speaker who struggled with English as an academic (other) language, Fu assumed, as many still do, that she needed to ignore her first language as she wrote and developed her English. Fu's questioning of this struggle led to her successful implementation of a writing pedagogy for English language learners that not only allows but asks them to write in their first language during brainstorming and first drafts. Chapter 3 articulates the pedagogical and language developmental benefits of this approach; In their final drafts in English, the students expressed themselves in meaningful ways that shocked their instructors and will touch readers of this book.

Chapter 4 focuses on the middle two of her four stages of developmental writing (code-switching and interlanguage). Fu again turns the common classroom view that L1 should not be used to develop students' L2 on its head by embracing students' L1 as a means to write and to express themselves. Even when English words barely make it onto the page, code-switching can be a borrowing strategy for students and/or deliberate bilingual expression. This chapter's section on interlanguage, in which more English is used in writing but often with L1 syntax, demonstrates the syntactic development of two students' English writing abilities through this scaffolded encouragement of L1 use in their writing. In chapter 5, "Teaching ELLs to Write," Fu reiterates that, regardless of the pedagogical and administrative challenges, English language learners have the same requisite classes as their peers and teaching English language learners how to express themselves in writing needs to be prioritized. She proposes better collaboration between English language learner and content class instructors, and backs up her proposal with a successful example of a class in which successful collaboration happened between the English language learner and content class instructor. Again, she uses a student's writing to demonstrate the scaffolded development that can come out of such collaboration.

Fu's next chapter lays out how such writing pedagogy can also help English language learners with speaking, reading, and lexico-grammatical development of English at the same time. Her data, instructors' positive reactions to this approach, and English language learners' examples of full-language development through use of their writing demonstrate that this approach does work. In Fu's final chapter she recognizes that her perspective¯to incorporate students' L1 in English writing and language development¯goes against current educational trends that emphasize standardized testing and monolingualism. However, her book and espoused pedagogy is a testament to the positive and touching outcomes that are possible when instructors truly value the linguistic and cultural backgrounds of multilingual students in classrooms across the United States. Danling Fu's book not only provides excellent motivation and resources for instructors of English language learners to incorporate students' L1 in English writing pedagogy but also is a touching read for teachers at all grade levels.


Atkinson, D. (2003). Writing and culture in the post-process era. Journal of Second Language Writing, 12(1), 49-63.

Cumming, A. (1989). Writing expertise and second language proficiency. Language Learning, 39, 81-141.

Cummins, J. (1979). Linguistic interdependence and the educational development of bilingual children. Bilingual Education Paper Series 3/2. Los Angeles: California State University, Los Angeles. Evaluation, Dissemination and Assessment Center. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED257312).

Garcia, O. (2002). Writing backwards across languages: The inexpert English/Spanish biliteracy of uncertified bilingual teachers. In M. J. Schleppegrell & M. C. Columbi (Eds.),Developing advanced literacy in first and second languages: Meaning with power (pp. 245-260). New York, NY: Routledge.

Harklau, L., & Pinnow, R. (2009). Adolescent second-language writing. In L. Christenbury, R. Bomer, & P. Smagorinsky (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent literacy research (pp. 126-139). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Moll, L. C. (2001). The diversity of schooling: A cultural-historical approach. In M. Reyes & J. H. Halcon (Eds.), The best for our children: Critical perspectives on literacy for Latina students (pp. 3-28). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Duane Leonard is a doctoral candidate in University of California, Davis' linguistics department. His dissertation discusses how educational/language policy continues to shape curriculum, student identity, and language development in an undergraduate ESL writing program. He hopes to see more writing about multilingual writers that values their linguistic and cultural capital as much as Danling Fu's does.

Review of Writing in the Devil’s Tongue: A History of English Composition in China

Brooke Ricker, University of New Hampshire, USA,

Writing in the Devil's Tongue: A History of English Composition in China. Xiaoye You, 2010. Southern Illinois University Press. 256 pp.

As English becomes an increasingly international language, more scholars are studying how English writing is taught around the globe. One potential benefit of this scholarship for ESL/EFL teachers is a greater understanding of how writing instruction is shaped by culture and what impact teaching English writing can have on other countries. Xiaoye You'sWriting in the Devil's Tongue: A History of English Composition in China offers an account of the history of English teaching in China and how it both changed and was changed by Chinese culture.

You uses extensive archival research, especially textbooks, student essays, and personal accounts from students and teachers, to trace the history of English writing instruction in China from the end of the Opium Wars in 1860 to the present. He examines how English, once considered a foreign "devil's tongue," gradually became a tool for Chinese students to gain Western scientific knowledge, grapple with China's many political upheavals, and finally enter into the globalized economy. Along the way he shows how Confucian traditions and Maoist rhetoric shaped English writing in China and how in turn Western rhetorical styles influenced mainstream Chinese composition. This book is composed of an introduction, five chapters covering periods of Chinese history, and a chapter of conclusions and implications.

In chapter 1, "Encountering the Devil's Writing," You discusses the beginnings of English composition in China from 1862 to 1918. At the time English was taught by Westerners in government "foreign affairs" schools or Christian mission schools and was considered merely a tool for learning Western scientific concepts. However, You quotes student writings from a college literary journal to show that English composition gave Chinese students a way to step outside traditional Confucian writing and express personal ideas and feelings.

In chapter 2, "Writing and Decolonization," You describes how both Chinese and English composition were shaped by the "New Culture" movement and political struggles between 1919 and 1949. He shows how Chinese intellectuals began to write using Western rhetoric (such as the modes of narration, description, exposition, and persuasion) and how English writing pedagogy in China began to be adapted specifically for EFL learners.

In chapter 3, "Writing and the Proletarian Revolution," You portrays the decline of English composition in the Communist People's Republic from 1950 to 1976. After the Cold War began, English teaching materials became primarily Communist propaganda, a change that You illustrates with a startling textbook reading passage about the Red Army. Students' writing during this period was required to follow the rhetoric of the "Great Leap Forward" in glorifying the liberated peasants and the Communist Party.

In chapter 4, "Writing and the Four Modernizations," You examines the revival of English after China opened to the Western world between 1977 and 1990. As China focused on developing modern technology and industry, it again welcomed British and American teachers. These teachers brought with them new pedagogy driven by applied linguistic theory, including communicative teaching, intensive reading, and process writing methods. Students benefited from these new methods but also struggled to integrate traditional Chinese ideals, lingering socialist rhetoric, and Western writing styles.

In chapter 5, "Writing and Socialism with Chinese Characteristics," You shows how the market economy impacted both Chinese and English composition in the years 1991-2008. Education reform made university study widely available for the first time, and college entrance exams began to value creativity and individuality over Communist rhetoric. However, the new standardized College English Test put pressure on teachers to drill students in five-paragraph essay writing.

In chapter 6, "Writing In Our Tongue," You observes that Chinese scholars continue to see English as a practical, neutral tool--something "like a driver's license" (p. 168)--to be used only for gaining knowledge. He argues, however, that Chinese students have always appropriated English for their own purposes, and that makes English not a foreign but a local tongue.

This richly detailed and nuanced history offers current and future teachers a broad perspective on the nature of teaching English writing abroad, and reminds us to be conscious of the cultural and rhetorical traditions of our students. It also exposes the many common challenges faced by writing instructors internationally; for example, You's description of the profound impact that the national exam is having on the writing curriculum may ring true for American readers as well.

As a Chinese-born scholar who earned his doctorate in composition in the United States, You is in a unique position to explain the influences of English writing instruction on his home country to an international audience. His research in Chinese archives provides a wealth of lively, even funny quotes from Chinese student essays and textbooks, some well over 100 years old, and the opportunity to hear the experiences of these long-ago students in their own words is one of the pleasures of reading You's work.

You concludes the book by pointing out that the effects of English on China's history are not unique and that composition studies must pay more attention to teaching in international settings. With this book, You offers teachers and scholars the chance to do just that.

Brooke Ricker recently completed her master's in TESOL at the University of New Hampshire. Her research interests include EFL curriculum development and textbook writing. She has taught in the United States and Russia.

CALL Column Coming Soon: CALL-SLW Intersection Newsletter

In a special issue of SLW News and On CALL, titled SLW and CALL Perspectives: Re-imagining L2 Writing in a Digitized World, the Second Language Writing (SLW) and Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) Interest Sections will focus on how new technologies are reshaping how we teach in a variety of academic and professional settings.

Growing out of a CALL-SLW InterSection panel at TESOL 2010, this upcoming InterSection newsletter will contain articles, reports, book reviews, software reviews, classroom-based research, teaching techniques, and assessment approaches that focus on new directions and possibilities for teaching L2 writing in a digitized world.

Watch your inbox for an e-mail announcing the publication of this new issue.

EFL Column Introduction

Lilian W. Mina, SLW News EFL Column Editor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA,

As peer review and editing is becoming an integral part of EFL composition and writing classes, more and more researchers are paying paramount attention to best practices in this area. In this issue's EFL column, two researchers share complementary research-based knowledge on different ways to enhance peer review practice in the writing classroom. The two researchers focus on the EFL context in which peer review may be a whole new experience student writers have to go through. Isabela Villas Boas addresses some classroom techniques that she used with her students to help them appreciate the peer review practice and to change them from reluctant to confident reviewers, and Lilian Mina presents a list of helpful phrases and strategies that students can use in their peer review practice. We hope that an integration of ideas in both articles can lead to better peer review practice in the EFL writing classroom.

Scaffolding Teens' Way From Reluctant to Confident Peer Reviewers

Isabela Villas Boas, Casa Thomas Jefferson, Brazil,

An instructional strategy closely linked to process writing is peer revision. However, engaging students in effective peer revision is a great challenge in an EFL context in which instruction is generally highly teacher-centered and giving and receiving feedback from peers is not part of students' "frames." Especially in this scenario, for peer revision to work effectively, it has to be modeled and scaffolded for students (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996; Liu & Hansen, 2002; Mendonça & Johnson, 1994; Min, 2005).

I carried out an educational ethnographic study with 17 teenagers aged 13 to 19 in two semesters of the intermediate level in a binational center in Brasília, Brazil, where writing is taught concurrently with the other skills. Though I aim to describe students' experience with process writing as a whole, this article more specifically reports findings related to peer revision and answers the following questions:

  1. After being trained to do peer revision for 1 year, do students become better peer reviewers?
  2. Does students' attitude toward peer revision change as this type of activity becomes more "natural" in the classroom?
  3. What are the most effective peer review activities and strategies?

Because the students in the group had had no experience with peer revision of writing in either their EFL class or their L1 writing classes in their schools, the peer review activities progressed in a continuum from very controlled to free, becoming more open-ended each time and culminating in a final activity in which students provided oral feedback to each other based on a socially constructed guide.

Table 1 shows the six writing assignments developed and the types of peer review activities conducted in the two semesters.

Table 1. Peer Review Activities

Writing activity

Format of peer review

 1. How people my age like to spend their free time

Assignment-related checklist containing items pertaining to formatting, content, organization of ideas, vocabulary and language structure + an open-ended question regarding what the reader had liked best about the text.

 2. A rush of adrenaline (narrative text about an exciting experience)

Checklist + questions generated by reviewer to lead the author to improve the content.

 3. My favorite children's book

Open-ended written questionnaire addressing whether the book review had made the reader interested in the book and text-related questions regarding introduction, development, and conclusion, as well as the use of discourse markers and language use. Final question asking students what they had learned from reading their classmates' essay that they could apply to their own writing.

 4. My favorite TV show

Open-ended, more general guidelines for students to give oral feedback to their peers on the writing posted on their class blog. Students then wrote down the suggestions they intended to follow in their revisions.

 5. My dream vacation

Peer review guidelines socially constructed in loco, upon teacher's guidance. Feedback given to and received from students from another group of the same level.

 6. Teen tribes

Open-ended conversation; students were guided to talk about strong points and points that needed improvement

Regarding the first question, on the basis of my tracking students' progress as peer reviewers, I concluded that they indeed became more effective reviewers after being trained to provide feedback by way of carefully scaffolded activities. (For a more detailed description of students' performance in each peer review activity, see Villas Boas, 2010.) Nevertheless, their progress was not always continuous. As the peer review activities became more complex and students were given more control, the more open-ended activities were harder to carry out. Students went through what Piaget calls "restructuring," so they sometimes took one step backward to later take two forward. However, by the end of the year, in the final, open-ended face-to-face conversations with their peers about their text, all recorded and transcribed, most pairs were able to engage in a competent dialogue, providing suggestions for improvement.

As for the second research question, there was progress in students' attitude and engagement in the activities, and continued growth in their awareness of the benefits of peer revision. At the end of the year, when asked if the peer review activities had been worthwhile, four students answered that the activities had not been valid. However, the vast majority of the students found the peer review stage of process writing valid and provided good reasons for such:

  • Because you do a "self-revision"
  • Although boring, it helps us to see our own mistakes
  • We could see new ideas
  • It's important for our improvement
  • Because we all learn together
  • It helps improve our knowledge about writing
  • It helps improve our writing
  • Yes, because we learn and improve our writing
  • It stimulates working in groups, a skill that will be very important in the future

Another relevant factor was a qualitative leap between the first and the second semesters. Whereas in the first semester most students complained when the teacher announced they were going to give feedback to peers, in the second, peer review became a natural procedure. One of the reasons might be that the second-semester teacher used a blog where students posted their texts, making their writing already public within the group.

Also, students demonstrated more interest in reading their peers' texts than having their texts read by a peer. Corroborating Lundstrom and Baker's (2009) findings, in the fifth peer review, for example, 11 students reported they had felt capable of giving useful suggestions to their peers, but only 7 stated that they had received valuable feedback.

A general sum-up of the observed students' attitude toward and engagement in peer revision is provided in Table 2, where students' initials are used (with their and their parents' permission).

Table 2. Students' Overall Attitude Toward Peer Revision

Highly motivated students and aware of the instructional objectives and advantages of peer revision.

LG, C, LD, T, H, JO, JU

Relatively motivated students, partially aware of the instructional advantages of peer review. Always conducted the activities responsibly but didn't show the engagement of the ones above.

J, ML, GU, JS, G

Demonstrated a negative attitude towards the peer review activities but carried them out effectively and improved their writings based on peer feedback.


Always reluctant with peer review and refused to perform the activities effectively.


The four students who were the most reluctant were also the ones who considered peer review an invalid instructional tool. Student "M" explained in a structured interview that, in order to write well, one only needed to know grammar well. Thus, he saw no point in process writing at all. Student "ME" displayed a generally negative attitude about student-centered learning in general, and refused to engage effectively not only in the peer review activities but also in any other less teacher-directed activities. Student "MR" strongly believed that giving feedback on students' texts should be the teachers' task, not the students'. Finally, student "E" had a high affective filter regarding learning English. Though he didn't show a positive attitude toward peer revision, he did engage in the activities effectively and always significantly improved his writing on his second draft upon receiving his peer's and the teacher's feedback.

Nevertheless, other students produced valuable insights into the benefits of peer revision. Student "ML" said in one of the reviews that she was surprised at how well JO, a shy student, wrote. Student "T" commented on "H's" enthusiasm in describing his favorite children's book. "G" mentioned it was interesting to see how his classmates wrote. Likewise, "GU" said that it was interesting to see how a colleague went about developing the same topic.

Finally, in terms of the third research question, I recommend the following strategies for working with peer review of writing with teenagers who have no experience with this instructional procedure:

  • Start with very controlled activities, preferably giving most prompts and directions in writing in the beginning, making tasks less and less controlled and more open-ended and student-generated as the course progresses. The more controlled peer-review sheets used in the beginning helped students internalize the discourse structure and vocabulary for giving feedback.
  • Model each peer review activity with the whole class, using an anonymous sample text and going through the peer review sheet with the students before they engage in providing feedback to peers.
  • Vary the peer review format so as to make the activity unpredictable and thus more motivating. Also vary the feedback mode: in writing or orally.
  • Use a class blog/ wiki / ning to make peer review more authentic.
  • Include giving and receiving feedback from students in another class, expanding the audience beyond the classroom.

The year-long experience with peer revision showed that working with peer review in an educational context in which students are not used to this type of activity is a messy, nonlinear process during which students develop their analytical and reflective skills little by little, at their own pace, based on their own individual characteristics and educational experiences.


Grabe, W., & Kaplan, R. B. (1996). Theory and practice of writing. London: Longman.

Liu, J., & Hansen, J. G. (2002). Peer response in second language writing classrooms. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Lundstrom, K., & Baker, W. (2009). To give is better than to receive: The benefits of peer review to the reviewer's own writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 18, 30-33.

Mendonça, C., & Johnson, D.E. (1994). Peer review negotiations: Revision activities in ESL writing instruction. TESOL Quarterly, 28, 745-769.

Min, H. T. (2005). Training students to become effective peer reviewers. System, 22, 293-308.

Villas Boas, I. (2010, March). Scaffolding teens way from reluctant to confident peer reviewers. A paper presented at TESOL 44th Annual Convention and Exhibit, Boston, MA. Slides available from

This presentation was given at TESOL's the 44th Annual TESOL Convention and Exhibit, Boston, Massachusetts, March, 2010

Isabela Villas Boas holds an MTESL Degree from Arizona State University and a Doctorate in Education from Universidade de Brasília, Brazil. She is currently the General Academic Coordinator of the Casa Thomas Jefferson, a Binational Center in Brasília, Brazil.

Helpful Phrases to Use in Giving Peer Feedback

Lilian W. Mina, SLW News EFL Column Editor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA,

As the previous article mentions, introducing peer response to students unfamiliar with the process requires scaffolding and modeling. Below is a list of types of feedback, each with samples to help model peer response feedback.

Mention Good Points

  • Very good thesis statement. You just need to mention that this was done in his speech.
  • Good point.
  • A well-thought-out paragraph. Try to link it more to UK, the context of your essay.

Suggest Improvements

  • Word choice . . . "needs" is a better word here.
  • Avoid using expressions between parentheses.
  • I can't see the relation between the last sentence and this section. Connect them in a way.
  • I think you need to be more specific here.
  • This paragraph is not very well-developed. You need to relate what both of them said to the effectiveness of his speech.
  • Maybe you need to specify here which country you're talking about: UK or Iraq. It's not very clear to your reader.
  • I think you are overusing this word to mean different things. Please try to use other more accurate expressions.
  • It's always better to vary your word choice to add style to your essay.
  • It is not clear how this helps fund-raising. Please elaborate.
  • The sentence structure is awkward. Please rephrase.

Ask Questions to Focus Attention

  • Do you expect your readers to understand what this word means? Think of a more common way to word it.
  • Do you have any support for this point? A reference?
  • Isn't this contradicting what you concluded in the previous paragraph?

Make Specific Comments

  • I couldn't find a thesis statement. And your introduction is not solid; I couldn't understand what exactly you're going to write about or what your arguments are.
  • This paragraph is not connected to anything before it.
  • I can't see the relation between the previous sentence and this one.

Lilian W. Mina, SLW News EFL Column Editor, is currently a doctoral candidate at the Composition and TESOL Program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She has been teaching English as a foreign language for about 17 years. She has majored in teaching second/foreign language writing for 4 years with a number of papers published and presentations given. Her interests include teaching business and technical writing and integrating technology in the writing classroom .

Four-Year Liberal Arts College/University Column Second Language Writing at CCCC 2010

Marian Woyciehowicz Gonsior, SLW News Column Editor, Madonna University, Michigan, USA,

The Remix: Revisit, Rethink, Revise, Renew. These words from the cover of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) convention program proclaimed the theme of this year's gathering to all attendees. The collaborative spirit of the convention theme was highlighted in an all-day workshop entitled "Building on Their Strengths: Advocating for L2 Writers Through Teaching, Administrating, Collaborating," offered on the first day of the event, and numerous sessions throughout the 4 days of the convention touched on issues pertaining to ESL/multilingual writers and their teachers. As I scanned through the program, however, I have to admit that when I looked at all the names of all the large universities represented, I wondered which sessions (if any) would apply to me as an ESL instructor/tutor from a small, private four-year institution.


One of the sessions I attended was entitled "From Awareness to Action: Making a First-Year Writing Program ESL Friendly." The presenters were all from Arizona State University, a large public university, with four campuses and more than 10 times the enrollment at my own university. In this session, the presenters spoke of a survey they had done to revise the composition program at their institution. Among the questions they asked were those designed to determine the preparation that the teachers had in dealing with second language students and what the perceived needs of these students were. Survey results were used to make several changes in the composition program, including (a) looking at course titles and descriptions so that resident English language learners wouldn't be reluctant to take courses that seemed to be only for international students and (b) better communicating placement options and procedures to students and their advisers so a student's ethnicity and accent wouldn't compel advisers to make a placement in writing courses that were beyond the student's skill level. Further suggestions for revision included

  • integration of L2 writing issues into summer orientation programs,
  • offering regularly scheduled workshops on L2 writing concerns for composition teachers,
  • providing composition teachers with ongoing consultation to keep them informed on current practices, and
  • designating an L2 administrator who could help with program reviews and placement.

Other possible revision/remixing was having sections of first-year composition designed for ESL/multilingual students without noting such in either the course name or description. Such courses could be communicated to the students via advisers. Another idea was the possibility of having L2 writers being supported with mandatory sessions with a designated ESL tutor from the campus writing center.

These ideas presented for use at a large university seemed equally as valid for implementation at a smaller university. Though fewer sections of first-year composition are offered at smaller institutions, there are often ESL-trained instructors in composition programs who could offer special support for L2 writers who enroll in their specific section(s). Composition instructors could also be offered additional support to improve their work with international and resident English language learners. First-year composition sequences are common throughout academia, whether in small or large institutions of higher learning, and those involved with such instruction can benefit from learning how other colleges and universities have addressed the issue of retention of the second language students. Though ESL programs might be downsized or outsourced in smaller universities, the importance of first-year composition programs is growing as the necessity of providing quality writing instruction for the multifaceted students entering today's universities becomes more apparent to administrators.


The field of ESL and second language writing is such that this year's CCCC convention theme is one that seems especially applicable to what we all do. Reinvention seems to come naturally to those of us with a degree in TESOL (or a related field) as we find ourselves teaching in any of a number of situations, from working with children of immigrants to devising a work-site ESL program. Likewise, when we sit down at a statewide TESOL-affiliate conference, we might end up sitting next to a materials developer, a freelance tutor, or someone interested in an EFL position. In spite of our differences, we're able to find commonality, and whatever it is we're doing, it seems we're always called on to do more, with less. In addition, with the economic downturn, many small private universities have seen potential students turn to less expensive public institutions and community colleges in droves, forcing us to reinvent ourselves and our programs so we can better serve those second language writers who remain.


Cox, M., Dadak, A., Nielsen-Dube, K., Canagarajah, A. S., Shuck, G., Eric-Depew, K., Miller-Cochran, S., & Matsuda, P. K. (2010, March). Building on their strengths: Advocating for L2 writers through teaching, administrating, collaborating. Workshop presented at the annual convention of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, Louisville, KY.

Roen, D., Saenkhum, T., Accardi, S., Matsuda, P. K., & Rose, S. K. (2010, March). From awareness to action: Making a first-year writing program ESL friendly. Session presented at the annual convention of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, Louisville, KY.

Marian Woyciehowicz Gonsior is an adjunct assistant professor at Madonna University, Livonia, Michigan. In addition to teaching ESL classes, she 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.

Convention Updates Friends of SLW Special Event at TESOL 2010

Deborah Crusan, Former SLWIS Chair, Wright State University, USA,

Again this past March at TESOL in Boston, the Friends of Second Language Writing met for its fourth annual gathering--"An Evening With Friends of Second Language Writing: Re-imagining Second Language Writing." Previous gatherings have been held in Seattle, New York City, and Denver. A record crowd attended the event, which was held at Lucky's Lounge in downtown Boston on Thursday, March 25, 2010. The event has gained more popularity with each passing year for its ability to bring scholars together from around the world and to create a friendly and informal environment in which those concerned with second language writing can network, explore, and share. In fact, the event was first established for that purpose, one it has achieved admirably and continues to do so. The event also provides a place for conference attendees to renew acquaintances and meet new friends.

Among the invited consultants were Diane Belcher, Joel Bloch, Colleen Brice, Christine Pearson Casanave, Ulla Connor, Luciana de Oliveira, Chris Feak, Dana Ferris, Doug Flahive, John Flowerdew, Jan Frodesen, Meg Gebhard, John Hedgcock, Eli Hinkel, Alan Hirvela, Ryuko Kubota, Kate Mangelsdorf, Paul Kei Matsuda, Jessie Moore, Lucie Moussu, Christina Ortmeier-Hooper, Brian Paltridge, Lia Plakans, Dudley Reynolds, Tony Silva, Kelly Sippell, Sue Starfield, Christine Tardy, Stephanie Vandrick, Margi Wald, Danielle Zawodny Wetzel, and Youngjoo Yi. Friends of Second Language Writing would like to extend special thanks to Kelly Sippell, executive acquisitions editor at the University of Michigan Press, for her support of the event and to Tony Silva, professor, Department of English, and director, ESL Writing and Graduate Programs at Purdue University, for helping to make the event possible.

The event has proven so successful that the Friends of Second Language Writing is considering organizing an event to be held in New Orleans on Thursday, March 17, 2011, at a location yet to be determined, so please mark your calendars. In the coming months, more information will be made available via email and on the SLWIS list. We look forward to seeing all members in New Orleans when we will be "Examining the 'E' in TESOL."

Selected Sessions at TESOL 2010

Danielle Zawodny Wetzel, SLWIS Chair, Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania, USA,


The Boston 2010 Academic Session was entitled "Linking Second Language Literacies: Reading, Writing, and Other Literacy Practices." Even though the session was on a Saturday, it was well attended and our speakers drew both experts and novices in the field.

The session began with a framing talk by Bill Grabe, who discussed the ways that reading is critical to writing practice. In his talk, appropriately named, "Where Is Reading in Reading/Writing Relationships?", he not only explained existing research about reading and writing but also pointed toward gaps in research that still need to be addressed. For example, Grabe expressed how very little research exists about reading and writing summaries.

Next, Fredricka Stoller explained some of her findings from a multiyear interdisciplinary (applied linguistics and chemistry) research project in her discussion titled, "A Read-Analyze-Write Approach to Disciplinary Writing." After explaining the basis of her research, Stoller gave some best practices for scaffolding students toward reading, analyzing, and writing particular genres within specific disciplinary contexts.

In another context for connecting reading and writing, Cate Crosby posed the question of how teachers can exploit the literate practices in students' repertoires to support their language development and use. Throughout this talk, "Linking Literacies for Developmental Immigrant Students," Crosby drew upon her own teaching context for students whom she considers to be a subset of Generation 1.5 learners.

Alan Hirvela was also scheduled to speak for this Academic Session but unfortunately could not. He did, however, create a generous set of resources on the topic "Multimodality and What It Means for Reading and Writing." He made these available to all participants who attended the session.

Overall, this Academic Session highlighted the various ways that reading and writing practices can be linked, or shaped, through the dynamic interplay of language, context, purpose, medium, learner, and culture. Each of the speakers was able to demonstrate, through different contexts, how to use this knowledge for supporting language learning.


With the Program Administration IS, SLWIS hosted the session entitled "Rethinking L2 Writing Programs for Increasingly Complex Learners and Contexts." This session addressed the importance of revising writing program curricula when student audiences shift. The session balanced expert guidelines for troubleshooting writing program administration with detailed cases of programmatic change from a variety of contexts, including an intensive English program, a community college, first-year writing in an American university, and an American research university's branch campus in the Middle East.

Tony Silva spoke from 18 years of experience directing the L2 writing program at Purdue University. He framed the session by outlining issues that serve as a heuristic for program design and implementation. Doreen Ewert then explained how and why she recently revised the ESL writing curriculum at Indiana University from a curriculum of five discrete skills-based courses into a three-course integrated sequence focusing on the development of fluency, clarity, and accuracy.

Moving away from a research university context, Lara Ravitch discussed how Truman College, a community college, used new departmental assessment strategies to improve placement and promotion of World English speakers and Generation 1.5 students in a system designed originally for the "traditional" ESL learner. Next Dudley Reynolds explained how the exporting of a U.S. university curricula to branch campuses around the world can shape a new debate about first-year writing courses. He presented a case study from his own institution, Carnegie Mellon - Qatar.

Dana Ferris from University of California, Davis, wrapped up the session by connecting issues raised by the presenters and by drawing on her own research and experience with program administration and diverse second language writers. She focused on what an SLW specialist can and should do to be a resource for programs and an advocate for an increasingly complex student audience. This session emphasized dynamic interplay of program administration, curriculum development, and second language writing expertise.

Second Language Writing IS Special Sessions at TESOL 2011

Ditlev Larsen, SLWIS Chair-Elect, Winona State University, Minnesota, USA,

SLWIS has a number of exciting special sessions planned for TESOL 2011 in New Orleans.

Our Academic Session, which will take place on Saturday morning of the convention, focuses on assessment and placement issues in ESL writing and will feature Tony Silva (Purdue University), Alister Cumming (University of Toronto), Danielle Zawodny-Wetzel (Carnegie Mellon, SLWIS chair), and Deborah Crusan (Wright State University). In this session, entitled "Recurring Issues in ESL Writing Assessment and Student Placement," presenters will share effective approaches for L2 writing assessment and student placement, especially as they impact writing curricula in various contexts. Assessment experts (Cumming and Crusan) explore challenges and possible future directions for assessment and placement, while ESL writing program directors (Silva and Zawodny-Wetzel) explain their local responses to standardized assessments.

For our primary InterSection, SLWIS will pair up with Secondary Schools Interest Section (SSIS) for a session titled "Negotiating ESL Writing Instruction and Standards on the Secondary Level," which will address challenges that mandated standardized testing and curricular demands may place upon the teaching of ESL writing in the secondary school context. Presenters will discuss suggestions for different effective instructional models, effects on student writing, and possible impact on the writing curriculum. Panelists include Youngjoo Yi (Georgia State University), Luciana de Oliveira (Purdue University), Amanda Kibler (University of Virginia), and Lynore Carnuccio (ESL-ETC Educational Consultants).

Finally, SLWIS will serve as secondary sponsor with Non-Native English Speaking Teachers Interest Section (NNESTIS) as primary sponsor for an InterSection titled "Issues for NNESTs in EFL Writing Teacher Preparation." In this session the presenters, Icy Lee (Chinese University of Hong Kong), Lisya Seloni (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), Claus Gnutzmann (University of Braunschweig), Ditlev Larsen (Winona State University), and Paul Matsuda (Arizona State University), will discuss how writing teacher education is both underdeveloped and underresearched in EFL contexts. Topics include challenges faced by nonnative English-speaking teachers in preparing EFL writing teachers and issues in such teachers' professional development. More details on this session can be found at .

Please join us for these exciting sessions in New Orleans.

Ditlev Larsen, SLWIS chair-elect, is associate professor of English and ESL director at Winona State University, Minnesota, where he teaches writing, general linguistics, and teacher preparation courses in the undergraduate and graduate TESOL programs. His research interests include a variety of issues in ESL/EFL writing and the interrelationships between language and culture in the international use of English.

Announcements and Information Symposium on Second Language Writing: 2010 Report

Rosa M. Manchón, Local Chair, 2010 Symposium in Second Language Writing, University of Murcia, Spain,

The 2010 Symposium on Second Language Writing, held at the University of Murcia (Spain), May 20-22, 2010, was a great success both academically and socially.

With the theme "Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries," the 2010 Symposium was a forum for a retrospective and critical analysis of the various avenues along which L2 writing theory, research, and pedagogy have expanded. The Symposium also intended to look ahead and explore the way in which further crossing of disciplinary boundaries can enrich the field of L2 writing.

Seven internationally recognized experts (Dwight Atkinson, Alister Cumming, Paul Matsuda, Lourdes Ortega, Tony Silva, Gert Rijlaarasdam, and Mark Torrance) explored in their plenary addresses the connections between L2 writing and the fields of composition studies, second language acquisition, cultural studies, L1 writing, educational sciences, and psychology. Ilona Leki was the chair of the Language Learning Round Table, in which prominent North American, European, and East Asian researchers (Alister Cumming, Icy Lee, Paul Matsuda, Lourdes Ortega, Charlene Polio, Gert Rijlaarasdam, Julio Roca de Larios, and Miyuki Sasaski) shared their perceptions on significant areas of international cross-pollination in the field of L2 writing.

The Symposium program also included three invited colloquia on "Writing From Sources" (organized by Charlene Polio and Ling Shi), "L2 Writers As L2 Learners" (organized by Heidi Byrnes), and "Research in L2 Writing in CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) Contexts Across Europe" (organized by Rachel Whittaker). In addition, three special sessions analyzed key debated issues in testing writing (led by John Norris), feedback on writing (led by Julio Roca and Liz Murphy), and foreign language writing theory and research (led by Rosa Manchón).

The Publishing Workshop, now a regular feature at the Symposium, represented an ideal occasion for young researchers to learn more about publishing internationally from publishers (Elsevier), editors of international journals (Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Learning, and Language Teaching), and experienced authors and reviewers (Chris Casanave, Ann Johns, and Paul Matsuda).

Finally, and very important, the program also included more than 100 concurrent sessions by both well-established and junior researchers from all over the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Qatar, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, China, Japan, Thailand, Korea, countries in North and South America (Canada, U.S., Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico), and various countries in Europe.

In addition to the academic program, various social activities were organized, allowing the Symposium participants to interact in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The participants' feedback after the conference indicates that they found the Symposium to be an enjoyable and academically rewarding experience.

Rosa Manchón is Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics and Director of the postgraduate programme in English Language and Linguistics at the University of Murcia, Spain. Her research interests include second language writing and research methods. Her work has appeared in many leading applied linguistics and second language writing journals, and she is currently co-editor of the Journal of Second Writing.

Symposium on Second Language Writing: 2011 Preview

Paul Kei Matsuda, Arizona State University, USA,

Writing for Scholarly Publication: Beyond "Publish or Perish" 
June 9-11, 2011 
Taipei, Taiwan

The 2011 Symposium will be held June 9-11, 2011, in Taipei, Taiwan. Taiwan has long been a major site of second language writing research, and in recent years, it has emerged as one of the growth areas where increasing numbers of researchers and teachers from various disciplinary backgrounds¯computer-assisted language learning, English for specific purposes, literacy studies, rhetoric and composition, and TESOL, among others¯are drawn to the topic of second language writing. It is also a context in which the pressure to publish in certain international journals is strongly felt by researchers across the disciplines.

In light of the immediate demands in this and many other parts of the world, it seems natural to focus on the practical question of how to publish successfully in international academic journals. This goal continues to be important to second language writing specialists¯both as teachers and researchers of written discourse and as active researchers who are subject to the same kind of pressure. Yet, the uncritical and widespread acceptance of the "publish or perish" attitude also perpetuates a problematic situation, in which evaluation criteria and funding resources constrain the knowledge creation process in ways that are not consistent with the goals and values of the fields. While continuing to serve the needs of students and researchers in various disciplines, we second language writing specialists also need to examine larger issues of the politics of knowledge-making.

This year's symposium will seek to move the field beyond the "publish or perish" mentality by bringing together internationally known researchers, teachers, and journal and book editors in writing- and language-related fields the world over to question, resist, challenge, negotiate, and overcome institutional expectations for international scholarly publication. In so doing, we hope to generate a better understanding of issues in international scholarly publication that can not only help improve the productivity of researchers from various parts of the world but also generate new knowledge that can help shape the evaluation system in ways that facilitate the production of truly valuable knowledge.

Proposals for concurrent sessions are due on November 15, 2010.

For more information about SSLW 2011, please visit

About This Member Community Second Language Writing IS Contact Information

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


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



Chair: Danielle Zawodny Wetzel,

Chair-Elect: Ditlev Larsen,

Secretary: Gladys Vega Scott,


Steering Committee

Deborah Crusan (2009-2012),

Jennifer Mott-Smith (2009-2012),

Silvia Pessoa (2010-2013),

Allison Petro (2008-2011),

Saihua Xia (2009-2012),


E-List Manager: Youngjoo Yi,

Web Manager: Charles Nelson,

Newsletter Editor: Margi Wald,


Book Review Coeditors

Steven Bookman,

Sharon Whitehead-van Löben Sels,


Context Column Editors

CALL: Catherine Smith,

EFL: Lilian W. Mina,

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


Historian: Paul Kei Matsuda,

Development Officer: Tony Silva,


Past Chairs

2009-2010: Christine Tardy,

2008-2009: Gigi Taylor,

2007-2008: Deborah Crusan,

2006-2007: Jessie L. Moore,

2005-2006: 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 writers 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 (maximum 500 characters) abstract and 2- to 3-sentence author biography
  • contain no more than five citations
  • follow the style guidelines in the fifth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition (APA style)
  • be in MS Word (.doc) or rich text (.rtf) format

Please direct your submissions and questions to

Margi Wald, SLW News Editor


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

  • be in APA format
  • be 600-900 words in length
  • include a 50-word (maximum 500 characters) 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 be in APA format and include a 50-word (500 characters or less) abstract and a 2- to 3-sentence author biography. Further information is available from Catherine Smith, CALL Column editor, at


This column welcomes both short and long submissions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Submissions should be in APA format and include a 50-word (maximum 500 characters) abstract and a 2- to 3-sentence author biography. Please direct questions and send your contributions to Lilian W. Mina, column editor, at


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 (500-1,500 words)
  • include a 50-word (maximum 500 characters) abstract and 2- to 3-sentence author biography
  • include no more than five citations
  • follow APA style guidelines
  • be in MS Word (.doc(x)) or rich text (.rtf) format

Procedures for submissions:

  • Send via e-mail attachment to Marian Woyciehowicz Gonsior at
  • Use "SLW News Submission" as the e-mail subject