Journal of Second Language Writing

Comprehensive Abstracts

Editorial Board
Table of Contents
Information for Authors
The JSLW Award
About the Editors
About the Publisher
| Comprehensive Abstracts |
| Vol. 1 (1992) | Vol. 2 (1993) | Vol. 3 (1994) | Vol. 4 (1995) |
| Vol. 5 (1996) | Vol. 6 (1997) | Vol. 7 (1998) | Vol. 8 (1999) |
| Vol. 9 (2000) | Vol. 10 (2001) | Vol. 11 (2002) | Vol. 12 (2003) |
| Vol. 13 (2004) | Vol. 14 (2005) |

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Volume 1, Number 1 (1992)

Ideology in Composition: L1 and ESL

Humboldt State University, USA

This article looks at the ideological view of writing in L1 composition and attempts to answer the question of why a similar view has not been propounded in ESL writing. The claim is that the difference can be attributed to: 1) the different affiliations of L1 and L2 composition, that is, L1 with literature and L2 with applied linguistics, 2) the scientific model for L2 research, 3) ESL's primarily pragmatic aims, and 4) the conservatizing effect of EFL. The article concludes by considering whether L2 composition might move in the direction of L1 by developing a similar ideological perspective.

Instructional Routines in ESL Composition Teaching: A Case Study of Three Teachers

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Canada

Findings are reported from a naturalistic case study aiming to identify common instructional routines in the classroom performance of three experienced ESL composition instructors. Six routines were found to account for all of the teaching practices of the three instructors over the period of their courses. Analyses showed frequent alternations between these routines, consistency in the proportions of the routines across the classes documented, little change in their use over the duration of courses, as well as much embedding of the routines within one another. These experienced ESL composition instructors appeared to alternate and embed their uses of these routines to allocate equivalent but varied attention to divergent teaching functions, for example, responding to individual learning while managing class activities. Sequential and conceptual models of these processes are outlined, suggesting that the instruction observed systematically focused on student task performance rather than the presentation of content as in conventional instruction. Implications are cited for future studies of second language composition teaching and curriculum innovations as well as advancing the scope of research on second language composition in educational settings.

Becoming Biliterate: First Language Influences

Georgia State University, USA

Since schooling is an important determinant of specific literacy capabilities, it is reasonable to assume that a student's educational background will have an effect on the development of literacy skills. However, in addition to learning the forms and functions of literacy in school, students also learn how to learn literacy skills. As a result, readers and writers develop a sense from their first language educational experiences both of what being literate means, as well as of what becoming literate entails. This paper will explore ways in which first language literacy learning strategies can be understood as either enhancing or complicating acquisition of second language literacy skills. Three aspects of literacy development for Japanese and Chinese elementary and secondary school students will be discussed: (1) the social context of schooling; (2) the cognitive considerations of the written code; and (3) the pedagogical practices most often used in teaching reading and writing. Implications for second language writing classrooms will be considered.

Cognitive Strategies and Second Language Writers: A Re-evaluation of Sentence Combining

Pennsylvania State University, USA

Despite scant empirical evidence and questionable theoretical support, sentence-combining continues to be one of the most widely used instructional alternatives to formal grammar instruction in second language writing instruction. This study explored the cognitive strategies that second language writers engaged in during sentence-combining tasks in order to determine: 1) the cognitive demands of sentence-combining tasks, 2) if different types of sentence-combining tasks require different levels of cognitive strategies, and 3) the extent to which sentence-combining tasks require second language writers to attend to aspects of cohesion and evaluation. Nine advanced-level second language writers participated in think-aloud protocols (Ericsson & Simon, 1980, 1984) as they completed both controlled and open sentence-combining tasks. The protocols were analyzed according to the type of cognitive strategies used during sentence-combining tasks. The results showed that these second language writers engaged in restating content, constructing meaning, and higher and lower-level planning as they completed sentence-combining tasks. Between-task comparisons indicated that open sentence-combining tasks required significantly more higher-level planning than controlled sentence-combining tasks. Finally, these second language writers evaluated the appropriateness of their constructions but did not attend to aspects of cohesion during sentence-combining tasks. Relevant theoretical and pedagogical implications for second language writing instruction are discussed.

Volume 1, Number 2 (1992)

A Computer Text Analysis of Four Cohesion Devices in English Discourse by Native and Nonnative Writers

University of Wyoming, USA

Nonnative speakers (NNSs) of English in U.S. colleges and universities often have difficulty writing adequate academic prose. One research area which has sought to identify and solve the problems of English as a Second Language (ESL) writing is contrastive rhetoric: the study of texts written in English by native speakers (NSs) of different languages to determine syntactic and rhetorical differences. This study examined 768 essays written in English by native speakers of Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, and English in order to determine whether distinctive, quantifiable differences in the use of four cohesion devices existed between and among the four language backgrounds. The corpus consisted of four essay prompts: two topic types and two topic tasks for each topic. The Writer's Workbench (WWB), a computer text-analysis program originally developed by AT&T Bel1 Laboratories, was used to analyze the four cohesion variables in the corpus. Results of the analyses showed frequent co-occurrence of certain cohesion devices that differed significantly between and among language backgrounds and between topic types.

University Faculty Tolerance of NS and NNS Writing Errors: A Comparison

University of Northern Iowa, USA

University faculty tolerance of NNS writing errors is an issue that has been well researched. However, the question of how a university faculty's tolerance of NNS errors compares to its tolerance of similar errors committed by NS writers is one that has not been systematically addressed. This issue is significant in light of the growing trend within academia toward setting more rigorous standards of literacy, especially as more and more institutions are requiring candidates for graduation to demonstrate writing competency on a standardized writing exam. This article describes a study in which university faculty were asked to rate 24 sentences containing errors commonly committed by NNS writers on a 6-point scale of tolerance. Half the faculty were told they were rating NNS errors, whereas the other half rated errors that were identified as NS in origin. Results, although mixed, indicated that faculty were generally more tolerant of NNS errors than they were of errors they perceived as being made by NS students. These results raise the possibility that NNS university students may not be held to the same classroom standards of writing competence as their NS counterparts, and so may be placed at a disadvantage when obliged to take a writing competency exam.

Research Writing and NNSs: From the Editors

Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan

This article focuses on the varied linguistic and sociopragmatic skills require for effective international research reporting. In order to understand more clearly the demands of the immediate audience many English NNS (nonnative speaker) researchers are writing for, a survey of journal editors in North America and the U.K. was carried out. This article reports the results of this survey of particular interest are the language-related criteria which may most influence consideration of NNS researchers' papers. As a result of survey findings, implications and suggestions for the teaching of research writing to NNS researchers are discussed.

Toward a New Contrastive Rhetoric: Differences Between Arabic and Japanese Rhetorical Instruction

University of Arkansas at Little Rock, USA

Contrastive rhetoric is being updated to accommodate the new process rhetoric. An expanded contrastive rhetoric focuses not only on finished written products, but on the contexts in which writing occurs and on the processes involved in its production. Two limitations exist in the early theory and research of contrastive rhetoric. First, contrastive rhetoricians had a narrow view of rhetoric, considering only the organization of finished texts. Second, they had a narrow view of Western rhetoric. After discussing these limitations and pointing out the need for a richer view of the contrasts between the rhetorics of different cultures, this article reports on a survey of Japanese and Arabic ESL students to investigate how writing is taught in different cultures. The survey reveals that rhetorical instruction does differ in these two cultures: In Japan, instruction emphasizes the expressive function of writing, whereas in Arab countries, it emphasizes the transactional function.

Volume 1, Number 3 (1992)

An L2 Writing Group: Task and Social Dimensions

Georgia State University, USA

Although peer writing groups are frequently used in ESL writing classes, little research has been conducted on what actually occurs in these groups. This study examined two aspects of L2 writing groups: the task dimension and the social dimension. Using a case-study methodology, we videotaped one L2 writing group for six consecutive weeks. The data collected included (a) the videotapes, (b) transcripts of the videotapes, (c) student compositions, (d) student dialogue journals, and (e) student interviews. Using transcripts of the six videotapes, coders divided the participants' utterances into thought groups. Using a modified version of Fanselow's (1987) classroom observation instrument, we then coded their thought groups using the following categories: study of language, life general knowledge, life personal knowledge, procedure, and format. Two trained raters independently coded the transcripts. An inter-coder reliability of .91 was determined by comparing their ratings. Results indicated that the percentage of utterances relating to study of language ranged from 70% to 80% and increased slightly across the six sessions. These findings suggest that students stayed on task by discussing each other's texts. To examine the group's social dimension (i.e., group dynamics), all data were examined. The literature on writing groups tends to idealize writing group interactions as writers constructively helping each other. This present analysis suggests otherwise. For example, one student was characterized by the group as the attacker because of her sharp, negative comments. Due, in part, to the attacker's critical comments, another student expressed dissatisfaction with the writing group.

Interpersonal Involvement in Discourse: Gender Variation in L2 Writers' Complimenting Strategies

University of Arizona, USA

This article reports on the use of complimenting as an involvement strategy in peer-review texts. The analysis explores how L2 writers vary their complimenting style according to gender of addressee. The data base is a set of 35 peer-review papers written by advanced L2 women writers. Four complimenting strategies that have been found to contribute to a female-female style are analyzed: positive evaluation, intensifiers, personal referencing, and a framing strategy. For each strategy, a comparison is made between texts addressed to women and texts addressed to men. In addition, the audience accommodation strategies of the L2 writers are compared to those of L1 writers. Results reveal that although L2 writers used some aspects of the L1 writers' female-female complimenting style, they did not vary their language use according to gender of addressee to the degree or in the same ways that the L1 writers did. Implications for second language acquisition and for writing effectiveness are discussed.

Coaching Student Writers to Be Effective Peer Evaluators

International University of Japan

Peer evaluation is used widely in the ESL classroom, although many teachers express reservations about the efficacy of this type of group work. Some of these complaints focus on students' tendencies to respond to surface problems at the expense of more substantive questions of meaning and to offer unhelpful or unconstructive advice to their classmates. Consideration of these complaints leads to questions about the way students are prepared to participate as peer evaluators. Students in this study are prepared for peer evaluation in a fairly lengthy coaching procedure, which includes role-playing and analyzing evaluation sessions, discovering "rules" for effective communication, and studying the genre of student writing. The subsequent peer-evaluation sessions are analyzed for evidence of the effectiveness of the coaching. Drafts are also analyzed for evidence of revision in response to peer evaluators' advice. As a backdrop to this coached group, another group of students is prepared for group work in a shorter, and more typical, procedure of watching a demonstration peer-evaluation session and then discussing it. These students' peer-evaluation sessions and drafts are also analyzed. The participants in this study who receive coaching demonstrate a greater level of student engagement in the task of evaluation, more productive communication about writing, and clearer guidelines for the revision of drafts.

ESL Student Response Stances in a Peer-Review Task

University of Texas-El Paso, USA
Pima College, USA

Peer reviews are commonly used in ESL composition classes to enable students to help each other improve their writing. However, little research has been conducted concerning how students actually respond to each other during review sessions and what these responses suggest about their assumptions concerning peer reviews and composition. In this exploratory study, we asked 60 ESL freshman composition students to respond in writing to an essay written the previous semester by another ESL student. We then examined the stances the students took toward the writer of the text, the characteristics of these stances, and what these stances suggest about the students' assumptions concerning written classroom discourse. We discerned three stances in the students' reviews: an "interpretive" stance, in which students imposed their own ideas about the topic onto the text; a "prescriptive" stance, in which students expected the text to follow a prescribed form; and a "collaborative" stance, in which students tried to see the text through the author's eyes. A majority of the students assumed a prescriptive stance, suggesting that they believed that correct form was more important than the communication of meaning. We conclude by discussing how our students' responses to their peers' texts can reflect characteristics of the collaborative stance.

Collaborative Oral/Aural Revision in Foreign Language Writing Instruction

University of Houston, USA
Michigan State University, USA

Although L1 and L2 writing research has demonstrated the positive effects of revision, few empirical studies have investigated the effects of a collaborative revision-based method in the foreign-language (FL) context. This investigation tests the hypothesis that a multistep, oral revision process carried out in the FL is measurably facilitative in developing basic composition skills and written fluency among adult learners. The study involves two groups of college-level learners of French (L1 = English) who were given two essay assignments, each requiring three separate drafts. In the control group, the instructor alone supplied written feedback; in the experimental group, revision took place in small groups, with participants reading their own papers aloud to their group partners, who responded orally according to a written protocol. Analysis of the final versions of the two essays collected from both groups showed that essays produced by the experimental group received significantly higher component and overall scores than those produced by the control group (p <.05). The findings suggest that systematic, collaborative revision produces in learners an awareness of the rhetorical structure of their own writing and an ability to self-correct surface errors, thereby helping them overcome inhibitions related to the formal aspects of writing.


Volume 2, Number 1 (1993)

ESL Essay Evaluation: The Influence of Sentence-level and Rhetorical Features

San Diego State University, USA

This study compares the relative influences of rhetorical and sentence-level features on the holistic scores assigned by graders who are experienced English writing instructors but who are not trained in ESL. Six intermediate ESL essays were selected from a university developmental writing class in which NS and ESL students were mixed. These essays were transcribed with the ESL sentence-level errors corrected. Both the original and corrected essays were holistically scored by graders who had no ESL training. Graders also assigned analytic scores on two sentence-level and two rhetorical features of the essays. T-test analyses indicated a significant difference between the holistic scores of original and corrected essays. Correlation coefficients revealed that the analytic scores on the sentence-level features of sentence structure and grammar/mechanics correlated with holistic score. Analytic scores on the rhetorical features of organization and paragraph development showed no correlation with holistic scores in either the original or corrected essays. In this study, graders who were experienced writing instructors, but not trained in ESL, placed far more scoring emphasis on the ESL sentence-level errors in these essays than on the essays' strong rhetorical features.

Three Disk-Based Text Analyzers and the ESL Writer

City Polytechnic of Hong Kong

Among the variety of computer-based writing aids now available to ESL composition teachers, computerized text analysis is one of the most popular and controversial. As its name implies, computer text analysis utilizes computer technology to analyze text and offer suggestions for improvement. This article examines three popular disk-based text analyzers and considers their effectiveness in analyzing texts written by ESL student writers. Results of this examination raise doubts about the effectiveness of computer text analysis as a stand-alone revision aid for ESL writers. The programs examined sometimes offered incorrect advice and potentially could focus the user's attention on relatively trivial surface-level matters rather than more substantial meaning-level problems in need of revision. Teachers who use text analysis with ESL writers should be prepared to offer careful guidance in interpreting and using computer feedback productively.

Comparing Writing Process and Product Across Two Languages: A Study of 6 Singaporean University Student Writers

City Polytechnic of Hong Kong
Ontario Institute of Studies in Education, Canada

A number of studies have attempted to probe the writing process of skilled and unskilled native and nonnative speakers of English. However, very few investigations of the writing process of students learning other languages have been published to date. This article reports a study of 6 Singaporean university students as they produced written texts in Japanese and, for comparison, in their primary written language (English or Chinese). The study examines process and product data separately to see if any relationship exists between an individual writer's process skill and product quality in the two languages. The findings indicate no clear relationship between process and product data in either language, nor between written products in the two languages. At the same time, the investigation uncovers a similarity in writing process for individual subjects across the two languages and a relationship between general level of proficiency in Japanese and the quality of the subjects' written products in that language.

Examining L2 Composition Ideology: A Look at Literacy Education

San Francisco State University, USA

This article seeks to clarify the ideological assumptions that presently inform L2 composition research and pedagogy and to suggest several alternate assumptions. In clarifying L2 composition ideology, it is advantageous to consider literacy education. Specifically, the article discusses three widely accepted assumptions in literacy education, namely, that literacy is a social practice, that there exists a plurality of literacies, and that literacy educators must address issues of power. The implications of these assumptions for defining L2 composition ideology are then explored.

Volume 2, Number 2 (1993)

Entering a Disciplinary Community: Conceptual Activities Required to Write for One Introductory University Course

Carleton University, Canada

Although previous research in both first and second language composition has called for the examination of the various intellectual or conceptual activities required for university content courses, this coil has gone largely unanswered. This article presents the results of a study of one introductory university course in Organizational Behaviour, a subcommunity or "forum" within the academic community of business studies. It analyzes the conceptual activities the students were required to carry out in order to write their weekly assignments and shows how these activities determined the nature of the expected discourse. The article argues that learning how to carry out such activities can be profitably transferred from the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) classroom to university content classes. It suggests that nonnative-speaking (NNS) students can use these activities to explore their own disciplinary communities and thus facilitate their initiation into those communities. The results of this study also offer important implications for first and second language writing pedagogy as well as for course design and teaching assistant (TA) preparation in academic content classes.

The Design of an Automatic Analysis Program for L2 Text Research: Necessity and Feasibility

California State University, Sacramento, USA

Several first and second language (L1 and L2) text researchers have recently utilized automatic analysis programs and computerized corpora to facilitate large-scale multivariate analyses of written discourse (e.g., Biber, 1988; Connor, 1990; Connor & Biber, 1989; Grabe, 1987; Grabe & Biber, 1987; Reid, 1990). Although it is clear that automated analyses make important quantitative research much more feasible, there is a potential problem with applying computer programs to L2 texts: Many lexical and syntactic features of L2 writing are in varying developmental stages, and programs created to analyze L1 texts in "target" form may underestimate and/or mislabel structures in L2 writing. This article explores the necessity for and feasibility of the design of a computer program specifically for the analysis of L2 texts. Using data from a large L2 text analysis (160 texts; 62 variables) in which automatic analysis was not used, it is demonstrated that a program designed for L1 texts would not be accurate enough to capture completely the structures used by L2 writers. Following this analysis, suggestions are made as to how an L2 text analysis program could be created and applied.

Perspectives on Plagiarism From ESL Students in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Baptist College

This inquiry aimed to discover how well students pursuing higher education in Hong Kong can recognize plagiaristic writing, in what terms they perceive it as inappropriate, and how they view students who plagiarize. The study included 170 first-year and 41 third-year Chinese students all majoring in fields of science in one of Hong Kong's tertiary-level institutions. A questionnaire was administered to the first-year students prior to any classroom mention of plagiarism. The results indicated these students had little familiarity with the Western notion of plagiarism and poor ability to recognize it. As for the inappropriateness of plagiarism, their chief concern was its detrimental effect on learning. They expressed less concern for the rights of the original writer or for the effect of plagiarism upon one's classmates, academic institution, or instructors. The questionnaire also determined that these students view persons who plagiarize as weak and lazy. On the other hand, third-year students were more able to recognize plagiarism and showed greater concern for the original writer and the issue of honesty. It is concluded that these first-year students need explicit orientation and training on how to avoid plagiarism when writing in a Western academic community.

The Writing of Southeast Asian-American Students in Secondary School and University

University of Minnesota, USA
St. Paul Public Schools, USA

This article reports on a study of the English writing skills of Southeast Asian-American immigrant children in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and in 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade mainstream classes in a public secondary school in St. Paul, MN. Their writing is compared at each level and is also compared to the English writing of Southeast Asian-American immigrant students, international students, and native-speaking undergraduates at the University of Minnesota. All subjects wrote on the same topic, and scores on four writing traits (accuracy, fluency, coherence, and organization) were assigned to each essay. Results show that writing scores for the mainstreamed secondary students were the same at the 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade levels and were the same as the scores of the nonnative university students. Only the native-speaking university students obtained scores which were significantly better. For the public school subjects, a lower age on arrival, a lower grade at entry into the school system, and a higher number of years in the U.S. were all significantly correlated (p = .001) with success in the writing traits measured. Regression analysis indicated that age on arrival was a more important factor than number of years in the U.S. and grade at entry.

Volume 2, Number 3 (1993)

The Sociopolitical Implications of Response to Second Language and Second Dialect Writing

University of Iowa, USA

In response to Terry Santos' (1992) "Ideology in Composition: L1 and ESL:" I argue that second language/English as a Second Language (L2/ESL) pedagogy is as politically charged as first language (L1) pedagogy, but its ideological implications need to be openly articulated and discussed-the purpose of this article. As classrooms become more multicultural and ESL students become more difficult to distinguish from non-ESL students, L1 and L2 pedagogies will begin to converge, possibly causing L2/ESL pedagogy to become more expressly political, but also causing L1 pedagogy to become more pragmatic. To demonstrate the political implications of L2/ESL pedagogy and to make connections with L1 pedagogy, I offer a continuum of responses to second language and second dialect writing, based on teachers' political stances on linguistic and cultural assimilation. The three response stances, related to those from ethnic studies, sociolinguistics, and L1 composition, are the separatist, accommodationist, and assimilationist. This response continuum is then used to analyze actual and hypothetical responses to the writing of {a) an ESL international student, (b) an ESL bicultural student, and (c) a Standard English as a Second Dialect (SESD) student.

The Implications of Cognitive Models in L1 and L2 Writing

Skidmore College, USA
State University of New York, College at Buffalo, USA
Skidmore College, USA

Research has suggested that metacognition is composed. of three general dimensions: knowledge of cognition, regulation of cognition, and the use of compensatory strategies when cognition fails. The first dimension, knowledge of cognition, can be further divided into three types: personal, task, and strategy variables. Knowledge of these variables is highly interactive in successful task performance, and taken together they constitute an individual's cognitive model of a cognitive task. Although research has investigated the role of metacognition, particularly the impact of cognitive models, in first language (L1) and second language (L2) reading performance, to date there has been little research in writing-L1 or L2-about the role of metacognition If generally or the impact of cognitive models on task performance more specifically. The current study reports on the role of cognitive models in L1 and L2 writing. Twenty first-year college students-10 L1 basic writers and 10 L2 writers from various language backgrounds-were surveyed to elicit information concerning their notions about personal, task, and strategy variables in writing. Based on their responses, writers were determined to possess various cognitive models of writing. Subjects' writing samples were evaluated holistically; further evaluation determined compositional and grammatical proficiency. Analysis reveals that L1 basic and L2 writers hold different cognitive models and perform differently on writing tasks, suggesting that cognitive models have important implications for writing task performance.

A Critical Examination of Word Processing Effects in Relation to L2 Writers

City Polytechnic of Hong Kong

This article offers an assessment of the effects of word processing with reference to writers for whom English is a second language. A review of the findings reported in the published literature on the application of word processing in English first language (L1) and second language (L2) composition leads to an attempt to find explanations for the conflicting results of different studies. Method and context effects are identified which help to account for the differential findings. These effects are attributable to variation across studies in one or more of the following variables: (a) the nature of the students, (b) the abilities and attitudes of the teachers, (c) the setting for computer use, (d) the time span of the implementation, (e) the type and amount of instruction offered in writing and in word processing, (f) the nature of particular word processing software and hardware, and (g) the measures used for assessing the effects and effectiveness of the implementation. It is concluded that word processing can be of value for nonnative writers if it is employed under certain conditions, and recommendations are offered for research with such populations.

Computers, Revision, and ESL Writers: The Role of Experience

University of Texas at El Paso, USA

Four advanced English as a Second Language (ESL) writers enrolled in a second-semester university composition class were observed while they used a computer to write and revise a paper on an assigned topic. The writers were selected for English proficiency (high vs. low) and computer writing experience (one semester vs. two or more semesters). Each student was videotaped for two sessions of writing and revising the paper. The tapes were transcribed and scored using an adaptation of the categories described by Faigley and Witte (1984). The results indicated that experience with the computer was a stronger factor than writing proficiency in determining computer writing strategies. The two inexperienced computer users spent less time revising, made more surface changes, and used the computer functions less than the experienced computer users. In post taping interviews, the experienced users also showed a greater concern for content than did the inexperienced users, who indicated apprehension about using the computer and concern for correctness.


Volume 3, Number 1 (1994)

Discourse, Artifacts, and the Ozarks: Understanding Academic Literacy

University of New Orleans, USA

As we teachers of ESL reading and writing continue our discussions about preparing second language (L2) students for the academic mainstream, we find ourselves on a theoretical and pedagogical frontier that is largely uncharted. In essence, we seem to be moving rapidly toward a broader social view of language with hardly a border check as we cross from one paradigm to another. In order to understand where we are headed and why we should venture there, it seems important to survey the landscape and consider the potential ahead. My survey proceeds as follows: (1) I wrestle with the notion of academic discourse community, for without it we cannot understand or even posit a concept of academic literacy; (2) in light of the socially constructed nature of an academic literacy, I argue for a different way of framing the questions we need to answer as we compose our ESL classes; (3) I discuss the role of personal experience in learning, language acquisition, and academic writing and reading, a role that I claim is essential; and (4) I end with an assessment of the implications for the ESL classroom.

Writing Groups: Cross-Cultural Issues

Georgia State University, USA

It may appear that writing groups, used in many English as a Second Language (ESL) composition classrooms, would be familiar to ESL students from collectivist cultures where group work is common in school both as a means of knowledge acquisition and as a vehicle for reinforcing the group ethic. However, writing groups may be problematic for students from collectivist cultures (e.g., Japan, the People's Republic of China) in at least three ways. First, writing groups, as used in composition classes in the U.S., function differently than groups in collectivist cultures: instead of functioning for the good of the collective, writing groups more often function for the benefit of the individual writer. Second, as a result of the dynamics of ingroup relationships in collectivist cultures, ESL students may be concerned primarily with maintaining group harmony at the expense of providing their peers with needed feedback on their composition drafts. Finally, the dynamics of outgroup relationships for ESL students from collectivist cultures may result in behavior that is hostile, strained, and competitive-behavior that is likely to work against effective group interactions.

Process Approaches in ESL/EFL Writing Instruction

Doshisha Women's Junior College, Japan

Process has been an important and sometimes contentious concept in both first language (L1) and English as a Second Language/English as a Foreign Language (ESL/EFL) writing instruction. This article attempts to resolve this contention by defining process approaches and examining their role in ESL/EFL writing instruction. The article first discusses three different meanings of process, showing that the term is not the name of a writing theory, and then describes the two main elements of process writing pedagogies, awareness and intervention. The ESL/EFL writing literature is analyzed to show how process approaches have been accepted in ESL/EFL composition. Finally, this article discusses some problems in implementing process writing pedagogies in ESL/EFL writing instruction.

Examining Expert Judgments of Task Difficulty on Essay Tests

University of Colorado, Denver, USA
Associacao Alumni, Sao Paolo, Brazil

The question to which the writer must respond (commonly called the prompt) is a key variable of an essay test, and research to date has produced conflicting positions on this variable's influence. Essay scorers, and language teachers who prepare students for writing tests, often claim not only that some prompts are harder than others, but also to know which are harder and which are easier. This study investigated these "expert" judgments of prompt difficulty in order to discover whether such judgments could be used as a source of information at the item-writing stage of test development. The results of the study show that "expert judges" share considerable agreement about prompt difficulty, prompt task type, and difficulty of prompt task type. However, the patterns shown by the score data ran in a direction which was the reverse of that predicted by the "expert" judgments. The findings contradict common assumptions in both testing and teaching practice and suggest that close investigation of "expert judges"' assumptions about tasks and other important variables of essay tests can be a valuable research tool in understanding more about test design and test difficulty.

Volume 3, Number 2 (1994)

Evaluating ESL Students' Performance on Proficiency Exams

University of New Orleans, USA

Research suggests that English as a Second Language (ESL) students have difficulty passing holistically scored proficiency exams. To determine why, researchers have investigated the role of error in regular coursework and exams, the nature of the exam and scoring procedure used, and students' writing processes. This study investigates the success of ESL students as compared to native English-speaking (NES) students on an institutional exit proficiency exam. It also compares the source of success (the exam or the appeals folder, a portfolio of writing done during the semester) and the number of attempts required by ESL students and NES students to pass the exam/course. The results indicate that ESL students are twice as likely as NES students to fail the exam, but they compensate for their failure by passing the appeal, giving ESL and NES students a comparable pass rate in the course. In addition, the results show no significant difference in the number of times the two groups attempt the exam/course. This research suggests that holistically scored proficiency exams are difficult for ESL students and that some form of portfolio assessment may be more valid to judge their writing. Suggestions for improving evaluations of ESL writing include training non-ESL faculty to evaluate ESL error during holistic readings.

Journal Writing in the Training of International Teaching Assistants

University of South Africa, USA
University of Cincinnati, USA

Research in international teaching assistant (ITA) training suggests that four areas of competence are critical for success, namely language proficiency, cross-cultural communication skills, teaching skills, and personal and institutional support. Journal writing has been used as a technique for developing language skills, learning course content, and reflecting on educational and personal experiences. Although journal writing has not been widely used in ITA training programs, the uses to which it has been put in other contexts seems to mirror the needs of ITAs in training. This article reports a case study involving a detailed content analysis of the daily journal writing of 20 ITAs to determine whether journal writing could contribute to the previously identified needs of ITAs. Results showed that the students' major focus of concern was language proficiency and the resulting stress in their daily lives. The majority of students approved the assignment and benefited from journal writing, particularly in developing confidence and fluency in language use, and as an outlet for stress management. However, there was little evidence that the instructor's expectations for reflective or analytical journal writing were met. Suggestions for modifying the assignment to appeal to differing student backgrounds and to encourage greater reflectivity are made.

Speaking of Writing: Some Functions of Talk in the ESL Composition Class

New Mexico State University, USA

The social interactionist view of emergent literacy holds that a learner's early attempts at writing are grounded in speech and, therefore, that the development of written language is best fostered within a supportive conversational environment. Many second language (L2) teachers recognize that an interactive classroom also benefits L2 writers by providing them with an enhanced oral language environment in which to develop literacy skills. However, the specific roles that oral discourse plays in the L2 writing classroom are not well understood. This article explores the functions of oral language in university English as a Second Language (ESL) composition classes. A case study is reported describing instructional discourse in five ESL writing classes. A set of discourse categories is employed that analyzes classroom conversation specifically as it relates to writing. Findings indicate relatively little classroom talk devoted to topic invention and development or to oral rehearsal of potential written text. The majority of teachers' speech moves functioned either to give direct instruction or to analyze already written texts. Results also point to the critical role that transmission-style instruction and textbook use play in determining the oral discourse characteristics of composition classes. Finally, techniques are suggested through which ESL writing teachers can better manage the role that talk plays in their composition classes and allow for a greater range of classroom discourse styles to best fit their instructional goals. 

Feedback on Feedback: Assessing Learner Receptivity to Teacher Response in L2 Composing

Monterey Institute of International Studies, USA
Central Washington University, USA

Writing research has generated impressive empirical data on composing processes, including text production, recursive procedures, and the contribution of feedback to revision. Second language (L2) intervention studies further indicate that certain forms of teacher feedback affect text quality more positively than others. Mixed findings suggest that we should look beyond the written product to explore the cognitive effects of intervention as they influence the mediational processes of text construction and modification. Few studies have accounted for learner reactions to teacher intervention behaviors which impact emerging composing skills and ultimate proficiency. This study focuses on the following research questions: (1) How do L2 learners react when they receive teacher feedback? (2) How do these responses affect the evolution of students' perception of text quality and their composing processes? (3) Do English as a Second Language (ESL) and foreign language (FL) learners differ systematically in terms of self-appraisal patterns and responses to feedback? Quantitative data based on an analysis of an in-depth survey of 247 basic L2 (110 ESL and 137 FL) writers' responses to feedback conventions employed by their composition instructors are presented. The findings provide insight into teacher behaviors which function positively and negatively as apprentice writers create and modify text.

Volume 3, Number 3 (1994)

Language Development in Students' Journals

Keio University, Japan

In this article, I examine changes in the writing of a small group of intermediate English students over three semesters of their intensive language program in Japan. The purpose of the study was to find concrete ways that language development could be demonstrated in students' journal writing, in the absence of testing and systematic instruction in writing, grammar, or vocabulary. T-unit analysis demonstrated that the writing of all the students changed over time, but in a variety of ways not necessarily predicted by the T-unit research. The same individual diversity was revealed with simple measures of coordination and vocabulary. Samples of the students' writing demonstrate that improvement cannot be measured only quantitatively through group averages, but that it must be identified in a variety of ways that differ for individual writers. I conclude that the notion of "improvement" needs to be reconceptualized and that students need to be convinced of the many ways that their English can improve.

Explanatory Variables for Japanese Students' Expository Writing in English: An Exploratory Study

Aichi Prefectural University, Japan
Nagoya Gakuin University, Japan

The present study investigated the relationship between Japanese students' English L2 expository writing and several factors that might influence the quality of the writing product. Nineteen Japanese university students provided both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative analysis showed that the students' L2 proficiency and L1 writing ability accounted for a large proportion of variances in L2 writing quality. The finding that L1 writing ability was highly correlated with L2 writing ability is important because it suggests the existence of composing competence across L1 and L2 even for EFL students. There was also a significant interaction between this composing competence and L2 proficiency. Qualitative analysis suggested that the students' composing competence was related to: (a) use of several good writers' strategies, (b) writing fluency, and (c) confidence in writing. Furthermore, probably due to the input-poor EFL environment, the amount of self-initiated L2 writing experiences seemed to play an important role in determining students' L2 writing quality.

Guidelines for Designing Writing Prompts: Clarifications, Caveats, and Cautions

California State University, Northridge, USA
University of Wyoming, USA

Regardless of the pedagogy of any given writing program, in the academic world, students are frequently evaluated on the basis of writing products they produce in response to various writing topics in a variety of circumstances. In testing situations, the stimulus for the student to respond to is referred to as a prompt. Special consideration should attend the preparation of writing prompts when there is a significant number of test-takers who are nonnative speakers of English. Writing prompts must be carefully prepared by test developers so that the student has the best possible chance to demonstrate accurately his or her true level of writing skills. This article proposes that there are six categories that test developers must consider and control as they develop appropriate prompt items: contextual variables, content variables, linguistic variables, task variables, rhetorical variables, and evaluation variables. Using a variety of examples from topics developed for the Test of Written English (TWE) and for other testing purposes, we show step by step how to distinguish between well-developed prompts and problematic ones by detailed exploration of each of these six variables.

Peer Response Groups in ESL Writing Classes: How Much Impact on Revision?

Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, USA

The purpose of this research was to investigate the impact of peer responses on subsequent revisions, comparing comments from the teacher with other sources. The revisions in essays from two groups of freshmen ESL students were evaluated over several drafts. The peer collaboration was audiotaped; written comments by the teacher or others were noted. Faigley and Witte's (1981) taxonomy of revisions was used to identify the types of revisions: surface or text-based. There are six specific types of revisions in each of these broad categories. The results show that the students made many revisions but that few of these were the result of direct peer group response. Students who made the greatest number of changes made predominantly more text-based changes. Students who made fewer changes generally made more surface changes. The results of this research raise questions regarding group formation and types of modeling done for group work.


Volume 4, Number 1 (1995)

Assertions and Alternatives: Helping ESL Undergraduates Extend Their Choices in Academic Writing

The University of Hong Kong

English as a second language (ESL) undergraduates in various educational contexts are likely to make assertions in their writing that experienced academic readers judge to be unwarranted or unnecessary, or to qualify their assertions in ways that appear inappropriate to subject lecturers and ESL teachers. After reviewing reasons why this should be so, this article presents and discusses short extracts from essays written by first-year undergraduates following an ESL-medium humanities curriculum at the University of Hong Kong. Some of the choices of wording carried what were apparently unintended consequences for knowledge claims and relations with readers. Class and tutorial feedback sessions on students' essays looked into ways in which a writer's factual or evaluative claims might be advanced, qualified, or assumed in linguistic choices from word to sentence level and beyond. The suggestion is made that, in a "general" academic-purpose context, focused explorations of warding can begin to relate writers' textual choices to questions that matter in academic communication.

Designing and Assessing Effective Classroom Writing Assignments for NES and ESL Students

University of Wyoming, USA
California State University, Northridge, USA

Academic writing is a form of testing; moreover, for most writing tasks across the U.S. college/university curriculum, the designer of the writing assignment is also the audience and the evaluator, and that designer-evaluator expects student-writers to demonstrate specific knowledge and skills. Therefore, like all test designers, designers of writing assignments should carefully consider the purpose(s), the parameters and constraints, and the evaluation criteria for each writing assignment. In this article, we discuss a range of issues in the design and assessment of classroom writing tasks assigned in courses across the U.S. college/university curriculum. We use a framework we designed previously to discuss the preparation and evaluate the design of writing tasks. We then analyze successful and unsuccessful writing across the curriculum assignments, particularly from the perspective of English as a second language writers, and offer suggestions that will enable teachers to design and assess effective writing tasks.

Writing Across the Curriculum, Writing Proficiency Exams, and the NNS College Student

University of Northern Iowa, USA

The growing trend in American universities toward establishing stricter standards of writing proficiency is an issue that directly affects students who are nonnative speakers (NNSs) of English. Traditionally, institutions have attempted to address NNS writing needs through a variety of means, including special composition courses and Writing Center-based tutorial assistance. However, the adequacy of such methods is now being tested as NNS students attempt to satisfy new and presumably more stringent institutional writing requirements. In brief, where it may once have been possible for NNS students to graduate without being expected to write as often--or as well--as students who are native English speakers (NESs), today's Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) programs mandate (theoretically, at least) that they be held to the same standards of writing proficiency as native speakers. This article explores issues concerning instruction and evaluation of NNS students in institutions employing WAC programs. It examines faculty expectations of NNS writing quality, NNS performance on Writing Proficiency Exams, and support options available to NNS students, and concludes that NNS students are being held to o double standard that places them at risk. Finally, it discusses alternatives for recognizing and dealing with discrepancies in WAC policies and practices on both the individual and institutional levels.

Objective Measurement of Low-Proficiency EFL Narrative Writing

Osaka University, Japan

Two groups of low-proficiency English as a foreign language students were given different practice tasks (writing out or answering questions about the same picture stories) in order to determine which task type was more related to increase in writing proficiency. One task forced a holistic approach, while the other allowed students to focus on shorter, unconnected segments. Since no suitable objective measures for low-proficiency levels have been established, 24 measures and a high criterion level for significance (p < .001) were used. The class which practiced writing out picture stories (the holistic approach) showed more improvement. To determine which of these objective measures would best discriminate between extremely low and extremely close levels of second language writing, the data obtained in this study were reanalyzed. Scores for each student on each measure were converted to z scores and summed. The sums were correlated with scores on each of the 24 measures to determine which measures showed the highest and most reliable correlations with the z-score sums. The best measure was found to be total words in error-free clauses. The next-best measure was the number of error-free clauses per composition. These measures discriminate well among samples of low-proficiency writing.

Volume 4, Number 2 (1995)

Teachers' Conceptions of Second Language Writing Instruction: Five Case Studies

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Canada

We interviewed five experienced instructors weekly about their ESL writing classes in selected courses over 2 years at a Canadian university, aiming to document the qualities of their thinking about their pedagogical practices as well as the ways in which three of the teachers' thinking accommodated a specific instructional innovation. Analyses of 48 tape-recorded interviews showed each instructor's conceptions to be highly consistent in their individual, expressed views about their teaching practices but also individually grounded in a specific set of personal beliefs about teaching ESL writing. The instructors using the pedagogical innovation focused much of their attention initially on composing processes (seemingly in response to the innovation). This focus then declined markedly over time as they incorporated the innovation into their existing beliefs about teaching ESL writing. These findings suggest that curricular changes in second language writing necessarily need to be situated in reference to the individual qualities of teachers' pedagogical conceptions as well as long-term views on the accommodation of pedagogical change.

L2 Writers and the Writing Center: A National Survey of Writing Center Conferencing at Graduate Institutions

University of Wyoming, USA

Writing centers have become increasingly important resources for L2 academic writers across the United States. This article reports and analyzes the results of a survey of writing centers at 75 graduate institutions nationwide regarding their work with L1 and L2 graduate writers. It discusses the kinds of L2 writers writing centers serve, the training of writing center staff for L2 conferencing, the types of assistance L2 writers most frequently request, the differences writing centers perceive in working with L1 and L2 graduate writers, and the difficulties they encounter in meeting the needs of L2 clientele. Survey results suggest that collaborative efforts between ESL and writing center specialists, particularly in the area of tutor training, would greatly increase the benefits of writing center conferencing for L2 writers.

The Relationship of Lexical Proficiency to the Quality of ESL Compositions

Northeast Missouri State University, USA

The extent to which impartial readers take into account lexical richness and lexical errors when assigning a quality score to compositions written by learners in an intensive English program is discussed in this article. For placement purposes into both ESL programs and academic programs, the writing of these students is often assessed by anonymous readers who base their judgments on timed writing tasks. Much remains to be known, however, about the relationship between language proficiency, specifically lexical proficiency, and reader judgments of the overall quality of timed essays. This study reports on the role of the lexical component as one factor in holistic scoring. Sixty-six placement essays written by students from mixed language backgrounds in the intermediate to advanced range of an intensive English program were holistically scored. These quality scores were then compared to four lexical richness measures: lexical variation, error-free variation, percentage of lexical error, and lexical density. High, significant correlations were found for (a) lexical variation, that is, the ratio of the number of different lexical items to the total number of lexical items in the essay adjusted to length; and (b) lexical variation minus error. The latter measure, error-free variation, correlated best with score.

ESL Composition Program Administration in the United States

University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

A survey of 78 colleges and universities was conducted (a) to ascertain the degree to which native speakers (NSs) and nonnative speakers (NNSs) are instructed separately in composition classes, and (b) to discover what kinds of instructors generally teach the NNS composition courses. Results show that academic NNS composition classes are still generally isolated from NS composition programs and that they continue to be viewed as remedial at many institutions. In addition, a well-prepared, permanent staff for the NNS courses appears to be the exception rather than the rule. Most instructors are hired part-time and from term to term, often with limited experience in teaching writing to this population. Suggestions are given for improvements in teacher preparation and modification of instructional strategies.

Volume 4, Number 3 (1995)

Reexamining the Affective Advantage of Peer Feedback in the ESL Writing Class

University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA

Various arguments have been made on affective grounds to justify peer feedback in teaching composition in English as a first language (L1). Those arguments have had considerable influence on the teaching of English as a second language (ESL) writing. Based upon current assumptions about the affective values of teacher-, peer-, and self-directed feedback, hypotheses were formulated concerning the relative appeal of the three types of feedback in the ESL writing process. Eighty-one academically oriented ESL learners who had experienced the three types of feedback responded to a questionnaire, and their preferences were statistically analyzed. The results show that claims made about the affective advantage of peer feedback in L1 writing do not apply to ESL writing. ESL students overwhelmingly prefer teacher feedback. The findings are discussed in conjunction with the larger issue of the appropriateness of L1 writing theories as guidelines for ESL writing research and instruction.

A Contrarian View of Dialogue Journals: The Case of a Reluctant Participant

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA

Dialogue journal writing has become a much heralded activity by researchers and practitioners alike, yet few studies explore the efficacy of this practice from the students' perspective. Still fewer studies examine the benefits of dialogue journal writing with adult English as a second language (ESL) students in a university setting. This study reports the case of Dang, one of 21 university ESL students who participated in an ethnographic study exploring students' perspectives on dialogue journal writing. Dang's case is described because he represents a view contrary to currently made claims about the benefits of dialogue journal writing. While Dang benefited from and enjoyed formal writing assignments, he resisted and disliked the informal writing of the dialogue journals. Implications from the case of Dang suggest the need for researchers and practitioners to consider students' perspectives when employing nontraditional writing assignments like dialogue journal writing. 

The Use of Metadiscourse in Good and Poor ESL Essays

Illinois State University, USA

A text is composed of two parts: propositional content and metadiscourse features. Metadiscourse features are those facets of a text which make the organization of the text explicit, provide information about the writer's attitude toward the text content, and engage the reader in the interaction. In this study, we analyze the metadiscourse in persuasive essays written by English as a second language (ESL) university students. Half of the essays received good ratings and half received poor ratings. Differences between the two sets were found in the number of words, number of T-units, and density of metadiscourse features. When features were analyzed as a proportion of number of T-units, differences were found in all categories. Furthermore, the good essays showed a greater variety of metadiscourse features within each category than the poor essays. It is proposed that skilled writers have an awareness of the needs of their readers and control the strategies for making their texts more considerate and accessible to the reader. Poor writers, on the other hand, are not able to generate considerate texts.

NNS Performance on Writing Proficiency Exams: Focus on Students Who Failed

Georgia State University, USA

An increasing number of U.S. universities require students to pass a writing proficiency examination before receiving undergraduate degrees. It is often assumed that these exams present special problems for nonnative speakers of English (NNSs). Johns (1991) reported on a case study of one student's difficulties with a writing proficiency exam. The student performed well in other courses but failed the required writing exam twice-and had not passed it prior to publication of the study. In our study, academic records of 191 NNSs who took a writing examination in 1991 were analyzed to assess their performance on the writing examination at Georgia State University (GSU). In addition, profiles of the students who failed were compiled, in part to determine how common the type of student profiled by Johns is at GSU. Of the original 191 NNSs, 16 were shown in the Registrar's record keeping system as still not having passed the writing exam by December 1994. The analysis shows that only 3 of these 16 students closely match the Johns profile. Of the remaining 13, 4 have C averages and 9 have failing grade point averages (GPAs). For these nine, failing the writing exam is part of an overall pattern of academic difficulty. Questions remain about the relationship between English proficiency and academic preparation and about responsibilities for academically weak students.


Volume 5, Number 1 (1996)

Chinese Students' Perceptions of ESL Peer Response Group Interaction 

Georgia State University, USA

This study investigated Chinese students' interaction styles and reactions to one particular pedagogic technique: peer response groups in ESL composition classes. In a microethnographic study, three peer response groups in an advanced ESL composition class were videotaped for 6 consecutive weeks. After videotaping, the interviewers met with individual Chinese-speaking (n = 3) and Spanish-speaking (n = 2) group members. The Spanish-speaking students were interviewed in order to have a point of comparison. In each of the sessions, the interviewer and the student viewed the videotapes of the peer response group in which the student had participated and discussed the group's interactions. The interviews were audiotaped, and the tapes were transcribed. The transcripts from the interviews were examined recursively by the researchers; merging patterns or theses were noted; the data were analyzed again using these themes as coding categories; and the data were organized according to these codes. This analysis yielded a description of the key Informants' perceptions of their construction of peer response group interaction. The analysis indicated that the Chinese students' primary goal for the groups was social-to maintain group harmony-and that this goal affected the nature and types of interaction they allowed themselves in group discussions. The Chinese students were reluctant to initiate comments and, when they did, monitored themselves carefully so as not to precipitate conflict within the group. This self-monitoring led them to avoid criticism of peers' work and to avoid disagreeing with comments about peers' or their own writing.

Audience and Voice in Current L1 Composition Texts: Some Implications for ESL Student Writers

University of Alabama, USA
University of Southern California, USA

Many freshman writing programs use an inductive approach to writing instruction. Students are encouraged to discover form in the process of writing. This approach views the acquisition of writing skills as a tacit, unconscious process we find problematic for students whose first language is not English. Drawing from 10 widely used freshman writing textbooks, our study demonstrates the problem of implicitness which exists in regard to two notions central to writing instruction in the United States: "voice" and "audience." Both notions, as presented in these textbooks, are predicated on a set of assumptions that do not translate well in L2 classrooms because they draw heavily on shared cultural knowledge that is often inaccessible to non-native students. Our article calls attention to ways in which textbook presentations of these concepts disadvantage L2 student writers. We propose that a discipline-oriented approach to freshman composition will facilitate an easier grasp of these concepts. Such an approach will expose students to the particularities of specific disciplines and provide a more clearly defined discourse community within which to form their views and responses. Knowing for whom they write will create a clearer sense of audience for these students and enable them to present clearer and strongly individualized voices.

ESL Writing Assessment Prompts: How Students Choose

Michigan State University, USA

This qualitative study examines how ESL students choose a prompt from several options on a timed-writing exam. This issue is worth investigating for several reasons: Little is known about the writing process on timed-writing tests; previous quantitative attempts to examine factors affecting student choice have been inconclusive; and opinions vary on whether or not students should be given a choice. Twenty-six students were observed taking a writing exam and were interviewed upon completion. We conclude that students spend little time making a decision; that several factors including their own background knowledge, question type, and specificity of the topic influence their decision; that attention to the time factor is an overriding consideration. 

Peer Revision in the L2 Classroom: Social-Cognitive Activities, Mediating Strategies, and Aspects of Social Behavior

Inter American University of Puerto Rico

Little is known about what actually happens when two L2 students are involved in peer revision of written texts. This article reports the results of a study conducted among Spanish-speaking students in Puerto Rico which sought to investigate (a) the kind of revision activities students engage in while working in pairs, (b) the strategies peers employ in order to facilitate the revision process, and (c) significant aspects of social behavior in dyadic peer revision. The participants were 54 intermediate ESL college students enrolled in a writing course. Interactions between pairs of students during two revision sessions were recorded and transcribed. Analysis of the transcripts yielded seven types of social-cognitive activities the students engaged in (reading, assessing, dealing with trouble sources, composing, writing comments, copying, and discussing task procedures), five different mediating strategies used to facilitate the revision process (employing symbols and external resources, using the L1, providing scaffolding, resorting to interlanguage knowledge, and vocalizing private speech), and four significant aspects of social behavior (management of authorial control, affectivity, collaboration, and adopting reader/writer roles). Results reveal an extremely complex interactive process as well as highlight the importance of activating and enhancing cognitive processes through social interaction in the L2 writing classroom.

Volume 5, Number 2 (1996)

ESL Students in First-Year Writing Courses: ESL Versus Mainstream Classes

Chinese University of Hong Kong

In first-year writing courses, ESL students are usually mainstreamed or placed in specially designated ESL classes. Although ESL writing specialists, backed by research into second language writing, strongly advocate the placement of ESL students in ESL classes, mainstreaming appears to be the norm. This article is based on a year-long study conducted at a medium-size university where ESL students have the option of mainstreaming or enrolling in ESL classes in first-year writing courses. The study describes the preferences of ESL students for ESL or mainstream classes, their performance on a holistically scored exit examination, and the reasons for the high rate of withdrawal of ESL students from mainstream classes. The study shows that the majority of ESL students preferred to enroll in ESL classes and performed better on the exit exam in these classes.

Verbal Reports of Japanese Novices' Research Writing Practices in English

Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan

This article presents interview data from a group of Japanese novice researchers who were asked to comment on their writing practices in preparing their first scientific research articles to be published in English. The verbal reports and subsequent commentary and analysis provide insights into cross-cultural aspects of academic writing from a social-constructionist perspective under the headings: (a) the construction of NNS novices' research article drafts; (b) translation from L1 to L2; (c) revision in response to external critique and the concept of audience. To better understand the language and subculture of the scientific community, findings stress the importance for both EAP practitioners and for NNS novices of feeding relevant background literature from the fields of sociopragmatics and the sociology of science into advanced courses in English for Academic Purposes. 

U.S. Academic Readers, ESL Writers, and Second Sentences

University of Wyoming, USA

Traditionally, ESL writing teachers have taught the concept of the topic sentence to introduce academic paragraphs. However, ESL students frequently develop paragraphs that do not fulfill the expectations of native English speaker (NES) readers proffered by the topic sentence. Recent writing-reading connection research suggests that different contextual and rhetorical schemata may result in ineffective ESL written communication. This article describes exploratory research focusing on the sentence that immediately follows the topic sentence in an American-English paragraph and seeks to answer the following: Can second sentences be (a) consistently predicted by experienced NES readers; (b) successfully predicted and written by inexperienced and/or experienced NES student writers; (c) successfully predicted and written by inexperienced ESL student writers? Results indicated that whereas NES inexperienced writers sometimes used unexpected, inappropriate second sentences, NESs were able to appropriately predict the "expected" second sentences nearly twice as often as ESL writers. Pedagogical implications are discussed.

Do English and ESL Faculty Differ in Evaluating the Essays of Native English-Speaking and ESL Students?

City University of New York-Kingsborough, USA

This study investigates the degree to which differences exist in the rating of two NES and two ESL essays by 32 English and 30 ESL professors in the English Department of CUNY's Kingsborough campus. The two faculty groups were divided into subgroups, one rating the four essays holistically on a 1 to 6 scale and the other rating them on a 1 to 6 scale but in light of 10 specifically categorized features, 6 comprising rhetorical and 4 language features. The results indicated that in holistic evaluation, English and ESL faculty raters differed significantly, with English faculty assigning higher scores to all four essay samples. In analytic evaluation, the two groups did not evidence significant differences in rating the specifically categorized features. Raters with more years of experience in teaching and holistic evaluation tended to be more lenient in their holistic evaluation, whereas with respect to analytic evaluation, experience in the two areas was not an influencing factor. Also, in holistic evaluation, English faculty seemed to give greater weight to the overall content and quality of the rhetorical features in the writing samples than they did to language use.

Volume 5, Number 3 (1996)

Tutoring Second Language Text Revision: Does the Approach to Instruction or the Language of Communication Make a Difference?

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Canada
Carnegie Mellon University

This study describes the dynamics of problem solving through spoken discourse in one-to-one tutoring of second language writing, aiming to determine if these processes might vary according to the instructional approach or the language of communication utilized. We tutored 20 adult students of English as a second language (ESL) in 4 sessions of text revision on 4 similar compositions they had written, alternating these sessions between provision of (a) conventional error correction versus procedural facilitation and (b) use of the second language (English) or learners' mother tongues (Cantonese, Japanese, and Mandarin)-forming a 2 (Approach to tutoring) x 2 (Language of communication) factorial design. The discourse of tutoring seems to have been highly normative in this context, sequenced into transactions of problem identification, negotiation, and resolution that did not vary appreciably across any of the conditions for tutoring. Tutors' and students' cooperative efforts to solve problems in the students' draft compositions focused primarily on local levels of the compositions (i.e., grammar, word choice, spelling, punctuation), guided mainly by the tutors' decision making, in all of the experimental conditions. This finding parallels what has been found in most previous studies of text revision. However, individual tutors tended to differ from one another in the extent to which they solicited students' input to the discourse, suggesting this is an important factor to be considered in future studies of the impact of tutoring on ESL students' writing.

Explaining Hong Kong Students' Response to Process Writing: An Exploration of Causes and Outcomes

City University of Hong Kong

The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate student reactions to the attempt on the part of their English teacher, a native Cantonese speaker, to apply the innovation of process writing in 3 multiple-lesson units. Answers to a questionnaire revealed a variable reaction to the units across 8 classes of Cantonese-speaking secondary-school students. For two groups in academically achieving all-girl classes, the experience was judged as positive, for two in lower achieving mixed-gender classes as negative, and for the four other classes as mixed positive and negative. The teacher judged at the beginning of the project to hove had the most positive attitude toward process writing taught the students who evaluated the experience as most positive. The class that evaluated the experience as most negative had the teacher judged at the outset as having been most conflicted about process writing. There is evidence that in the two classes where the students had the most positive reaction the teacher made a fuller adoption of the process approach than in the two classes where students had the most negative reaction. In the former, the teacher integrated elements of process writing into an overall teaching routine, whereas in the latter, the focus was on traditional language exercise and grammatical accuracy, and process approach elements were not well integrated into the teacher's instruction. The results illustrate the complex pattern of cause-and-effect relationships existing between teachers' and students' attitudes and behaviors in the context of an innovation. They further demonstrate how an innovation can be reinterpreted when implemented in a new culture.

Issues in Using Multicultural Literature in College ESL Writing Classes

University of San Francisco, USA

Multicultural literature, and multicultural textbooks, are increasingly used in college ESL writing classes. This is an appropriate and welcome development, but it is essential that such literature and texts be chosen and taught carefully and thoughtfully. ESL professionals need to define multiculturalism, and multicultural literature, as those terms apply in ESL education and particularly in the context of the writing class, and understand and prepare for the fact that some students as well as fellow academics find such concepts controversial. This article discusses the following related issues in the ESL context: the "canon wars," the purposes and benefits of teaching multicultural literature, possible pitfalls in emphasizing such literature with ESL students, the selection of textbooks with appropriate reading selections and editorial apparatus, and possible problems arising during such teaching.

Second Language Learners' Processes of L1 Writing, L2 Writing, and Translation from L1 into L2

Western Washington University, USA

This study compares second language learners' L1 writing, L2 writing, and translation from L1 into L2, focusing on writing and translating processes, attention patterns, and quality of language use. Thinking aloud, 22 Japanese ESL students studying at a Canadian college performed 3 tasks individually. These think-aloud protocols were analyzed, supplemented by observational notes and interviews, and the writing samples were evaluated. The data were analyzed with attention to theories of composing processes (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1987), Schmidt's "conscious attention" (1990), and Swain's "i + 1 output" hypothesis (1985). It was found that (a) most students used a "what-next" approach both in the L1 and L2 writing tasks and a "sentence-by-sentence" approach in the translation task, (b) attention patterns in the L1 and L2 writing tasks were very similar, but quite different in the translation task. Attention to language use in the translation task was significantly higher than in the L1 and L2 writing tasks and, (c) scores on language use in the L1 and L2 writing tasks were similar, but scores on language use in the translation task were significantly better than in the L2 writing task.


Volume 6, Number 1 (1997)

An Argument for Nonadversarial Argumentation: On the Relevance of the Feminist Critique of Academic Discourse to L2 Writing Pedagogy

The Ohio State University, USA

The feminist critique of academic discourse has begun to heighten awareness of the agonistic, competitive nature of much academic writing in English. This article considers what the implications of this gendered discoursal consciousness may be for L2 writing educators, both as teachers and as academic writers themselves. Vignettes of two L2 writers who have successfully negotiated nonadversarial academic texts are presented and discussed. Finally, guideposts for a nonadversarial model of academic discourse are suggested.

Dictionary Use by EFL Writers: What Really Happens?

University of Aizu, Japan

All of the words that 51 Japanese EFL university students had looked up in their dictionaries were identified in a 41 ,024-word corpus of student writing. Forty-two percent of these "dictionary words" were found to have been used incorrectly in some way. An analysis of the errors themselves and of interviews with more and less successful dictionary users was conducted in an attempt to better understand why these errors were committed and what can be done to assist students in avoiding such errors. The findings indicate that successful dictionary users, regardless of their level of English proficiency, employ a variety of sophisticated look-up strategies. Furthermore, this research brings into question some of the claims of previous studies into FL dictionary use.

Contrastive Rhetoric in Context: A Dynamic Model of L2 Writing

Purdue University, USA

The notion of contrastive rhetoric was first proposed as a pedagogical solution to the problem of L2 organization, and the subsequent development in research has generated, among other valuable insights, three explanations for the organizational structures of L2 texts, including linguistic, cultural, and educational explanations. However, the contribution of contrastive rhetoric to the teaching of ESL writing has been limited because of the underlying assumptions that have guided the early pedagogical approaches. This study identifies a static theory of L2 writing that has been widely used in teaching organizational structures and considers how the pedagogical application of insights from contrastive rhetoric studies have been limited by this theory. To overcome the limitations of the static theory, an alternative model of L2 writing is proposed, and its implications for further research and the teaching of L2 writing are discussed.

The Etiology of Poor Second Language Writing: The Influence of Perceived Teacher Preferences on Second Language Revision Strategies

University of Granada

Much previous L2 writing research has sought to compare the so-called "skilled" and "unskilled" writer, suggesting that one of the major differences between them may lie in their respective approaches to revision. Specifically, unskilled writers have been seen to revise from a narrow outlook and make changes addressing the surface grammatical structure of compositions, usually at the level of the word, rather than deeper issues of content and organization. However, the issue of what may lead unskilled writers to concentrate more on certain aspects in their revision remains unexplored. Specifically, we have little information about how underachieving EFL writers perceive the act of revision in academic writing contexts, and we remain unaware of the possible effect of these opinions and contexts on their revision strategies. This descriptive study focuses on what was revealed from semistructured interviews over a 9-month period with 71 underachieving EFL undergraduates about their attitudes toward revision and the possible effects of perceived teacher preferences in methodology, feedback, and evaluation on revision strategies. The majority of participants were able to reflect on their revision behavior and describe their current revision strategies, which were often observed to be pragmatically based and derived from perceived teacher preferences in past or present classroom practice and from feedback on writing. Revision of compositions was generally described as involving little more than a proofreading exercise. Evidence was found that local teaching strategies and evaluatory procedures might reinforce these pragmatic, yet ultimately restrictive, revision practices. As a result of these findings, suggestions are made with regard to revision strategy training with underachieving learners.

Volume 6, Number 2 (1997)

Acquiring Disciplinary Literacy: A Social-Cognitive Analysis of Text Production and Learning among Iranian Graduate Students of Education

Shiraz University, Iran

The problem addressed by this study was: how do non-native speakers of English acquire domain-specific literacy suitable to their academic discipline in a graduate program? The participants were four (one female and three male) Iranian doctoral students of education in their second year of residency. To investigate the problem, I used a naturalistic qualitative approach, collecting data from four participants through questionnaires, interviews (structured, unstructured, and text-based), written documents (texts produced by the participants, their professors' feedback on the papers, and course outlines), and process logs. I followed the participants through their graduate seminars over a period of five months as they were preparing for and performing assigned academic writing tasks in their second language (L2), English. Weekly face-to-face interviews focusing on participants' behaviours, decisions, and concerns were the central data gathering method for the study. This study adds to the literature that suggests that achieving disciplinary literacy in an L2 in a graduate program such as education is fundamentally an interactive social-cognitive process in that production of the texts required extensive interaction between the individual's cognitive processes and social/contextual factors in different ways.

The Impact of Writer Nationality on Mainstream Teachers' Judgments of Composition Quality

University of Georgia, USA
Texas Department of Health, USA

Teachers' evaluations of student writing are susceptible to the influence of extraneous factors, including stereotyped expectations based on students' ethnolinguistic identities. Even teachers' detection of surface errors in student writing is vulnerable to such expectancy sets. Non-native speakers of English (NNSs) who exit sheltered ESL classes may therefore be subjected to unduly negative evaluations due to mainstream teachers' negative expectations. On the other hand, it is possible that mainstream teachers overcompensate and are especially lenient with NNSs. The present study attributed fabricated student identities to a standard set of essays into which specific errors had been intruded. The fictional students were either Southeast Asian, Northern European, or U.S. native English speakers (NESs). Mainstream composition teachers evaluated the writing samples using rating scales, and they also wrote marginal comments and signs. Analyses indicated an advantage favoring the Asian writers over the NES writers in ratings of overall composition quality. No differences in the number of errors detected for each writer nationality were found. On the other hand, teachers' ratings of NNS writing were best predicted by the number of surface errors they detected. Ratings of NES writing, in contrast, were justified by marginal notations and comments; teachers tended to write longer comments when they judged the writing to be poor. The significance of the study is to enjoin composition teachers to reflect on their differential dependence on surface error when evaluating NES and NNS writing.

Teacher Commentary on Student Writing: Descriptions & Implications

California State University, Sacramento, USA
American River College, USA
Winters High School, USA
Sacramento City College, USA

Teacher response to student writing is a vital, though neglected, aspect of L2 composition research. The present study adds to the previous research through the development and implementation of an original analysis model, designed to examine both the pragmatic aims and the linguistic forms of teachers' written commentary. This model was used in the examination of over 1500 teacher comments written on a sample of III essay first drafts by 47 advanced ESL university students. It was found that the teacher changed her responding strategies over the course of two semesters, that she provided different types of commentary on various genres of writing assignments, that the amount of her feedback decreased as the term progressed, and that she responded somewhat differently to students of varying ability levels. The study raises several implications for L2 writing instruction as well as for analyses of teacher commentary.

Qualification and Certainty in L1 and L2 Students' Writing

City University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

A major problem for second language students writing academic essays in English is to convey statements with an appropriate degree of doubt and certainty. Such epistemic comments are crucial to academic writing where authors have to distinguish opinion from fact and evaluate their assertions in acceptable and persuasive ways. Despite its importance however, we know little about how second language writers present assertions in their writing and we often measure their attempts to master appropriate forms against the work of expert writers. Based on a corpus of one million words, this paper compares the expression of doubt and certainty in the examination scripts of 900 Cantonese speaking school leavers writing in English with those of 770 British learners of similar age and educational level. A detailed analysis of the texts reveals that these L2 writers differ significantly from the NSs in relying on a more limited range of items, offering stronger commitments, and exhibiting greater problems in conveying a precise degree of certainty. The authors highlight a number of issues raised by the research and make some pedagogical suggestions for developing competence in this important pragmatic area.

Volume 6, Number 3 (1997)

Traditional Chinese Text Structures and Their Influence on the Writing in Chinese and English of Contemporary Mainland Chinese Students

Centre for International English, Curtin University of Technology

It has been argued that traditional Chinese text structures, in particular the four-part qi-cheng-zhuan-he and the ha gu wen (eight-legged essay) structures continue to influence the written English of Chinese students. In this article, the origins of these two traditional Chinese text structures will be described and examples of them given. In considering their influence upon the contemporary writing of mainland Chinese students, it will be argued that, as these structures do not influence the writing in Chinese of these students, they are unlikely to exert a great influence upon their writing in English. A survey of contemporary Chinese textbooks on composition suggests that the prescriptive advice given in these texts reflects contemporary " Anglo-American" rhetorical style more than traditional Chinese style. 

Student Annotations: What NNS and NS University Students Say About Their Own Writing

University of Melbourne, Australia

Although teacher feedback has long been considered an integral part of developing students' writing, seeking student perceptions of their own writing is equally important. The articulation of such perceptions assists students to be independent learners and also guides teacher feedback. One way to gain insights into student perceptions is to invite them to make annotations on their own work before submission. Although this is not a new pedagogic technique, there is a lack of research on many aspects of student annotation behavior, particularly of second language writers. In this project, student annotations were analyzed for the areas of writing about which students annotate and for the distribution of positive annotations and expressions of concern. Annotations were made by NNSs and NSs on their own research papers. There were some differences between the two groups of students in the categories and sub-categories of their annotations. The value for both students and writing instructors of encouraging L2 writers to annotate their work is discussed, and areas for further research are noted. 

Writing Instruction at the German Gymnasium: A 13th-Grade English Class Writes the Abitur

University of Toledo, USA

The field of contrastive rhetoric has until fairly recently focused for the most part on the features of texts written by writers composing in English as a second language in English-speaking environments. Current research in contrastive rhetoric, however, points to interest in broader concerns, including inquiry into the educational contexts around the world in which writing and writing instruction take place. This article reports on an investigation of the context of writing at a secondary school (Gymnasium) in Germany. In addition to reporting contextual information related to the Gymnasium and the Abitur, an exit exam required by all Gymnasiums in Germany, this article reports the responses to the English section of the Abitur of 13th-grade students who elected English as one of their Abitur subjects. Students' responses are reported concerning their perception of the purpose of this exam; their means of preparing for it; their expectations of it before taking it and their reactions to it afterwards; their descriptions of their writing process during the exam; and their perceptions of the differences between writing in a first language and writing in a second language. 

Critical Thinking in ESL: An Argument for Sustained Content 

City University of New York, USA

This article suggests that in adult ESL learners, development of critical thinking skills, as defined by EAP, cognitive psychology and transformative pedagogy, benefits from sustained content study (or studying one area over time). Sustained content study is recommended because: it allows students to accrue information, without which they are less able to question, synthesize, and evaluate what they read; it allows students to become familiar with the rhetorical conventions of a discipline; and, as these are the skills needed for university study, today's workplace and to understand the socio-political factors that affect students' lives, sustained study allows students to practice in the ESL class what they will need outside it. This article: defines critical thinking, discusses who should learn it and why, reviews the role of content in ESL and the literature supporting sustained study, and discusses content that engages ESL students with varied majors and goals. Three courses are described, one on selected economic/political issues, one on language acquisition itself, and one on film and society. Selections from student discussion and writing are examined. 


Volume 7, Number 1 (1998)

Staying Out of Trouble: Apparent Plagiarism and Academic Survival

Carleton University, Canada

Textual borrowing by second language students in academic settings has traditionally been viewed as an intentional violation of Western norms and practices. As we have learned from recent discussions, however, the issue is not that simple, but fraught with complexities. In order to understand the degree of complexity, it is worthwhile to examine one instance of such borrowing. This paper explores the apparent plagiarism of one second language student writer in a university course. It considers her behavior in relation to the context of her course, the demands of her task, her developing English language skills, and her general learning processes. 

An Aspect of Holistic Modeling in Academic Writing: Propositional Clusters as a Heuristic for Thematic Control

Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan

It is a major challenge for teachers of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) to devise meaningful exercises and techniques which can function as research tools for EAP practitioners and as heuristic procedures for L2 writers. If exercises are to be authentic in helping students accomplish their real concerns, they need to be holistic in their modeling of the academic writing process. That is, they need to integrate attention to textual, cognitive, and social aspects of the texts students are required to produce in order to enter into the academic/discourse community. As a contribution to this effort, this study presents one potentially valuable procedure, Propositional Clusters (PCs), which aims to help L2 writers handle one crucial aspect of text organization, namely thematic control. The use of PCs is demonstrated with reference to Japanese graduate students drafting their first research papers in English. 

"If I Only Had More Time:" ESL Learners' Changes in Linguistic Accuracy on Essay Revisions 

Michigan State University, USA

This study examines whether or not English-as-a-second-language (ESL) students edit for sentence-level errors during revision and whether or not additional editing instruction helps reduce sentence-level errors in revised essays. Examining 64 ESL students' 30-minute drafts and 60-minute revisions, both at the beginning and at the end of a semester, we found that students' linguistic accuracy improved both over the semester and from draft to revised essay. However, an experimental group, who received additional editing instruction and feedback, did not perform any better than the control group on measures of linguistic accuracy. We conclude that while the improvement in accuracy on the revised essays is statistically significant and theoretically interesting to researchers in the areas of second language acquisition and second language writing pedagogy, it may be too small to have practical implications in the context of writing assessment.

An Investigation of L1-L2 Transfer in Writing among Japanese University Students: Implications for Contrastive Rhetoric

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA

Many studies of contrastive rhetoric have confirmed that Japanese writers prefer an inductive style which is negatively transferred to ESL writing, whereas one study found similarities in rhetorical patterns used by good Japanese and English LI writers. This study investigated whether individual Japanese students use the same discourse pattern in L1 and ESL writing and how each individual's use of similar/dissimilar patterns affects the quality of ESL essays. University students in Japan wrote one essay in Japanese and another in English. A total of 22 students wrote on an expository topic, and 24 students wrote on a persuasive topic. Each participant was interviewed later about their writing and views on rhetorical styles. Both Japanese and ESL essays were evaluated in terms of organization and ESL essays were also rated in terms of language use. The location of the main idea and the macro-level rhetorical pattern were coded for each essay. Results showed that about half of the writers used similar patterns in L1 and L2. Results also revealed a positive correlation between Japanese and ESL organization scores, but no negative transfer of culturally unique rhetorical patterns. The data suggest that L1 writing ability, English proficiency and composing experience in English affect the quality of ESL essays. 

Volume 7, Number 2 (1998)

ESL Students' Perceptions of Effectiveness in Peer Response Groups

Georgia State University, USA

This study investigated Chinese and Spanish-speaking students' perceptions of their interactions in peer response groups in an ESL composition class. In a microethnographic study, three peer response groups in an advanced ESL composition class were videotaped for six consecutive weeks. After videotaping, researchers met with individual Chinese (N = 3) and Spanish-speaking (N = 2) group members. In each session, the researcher and the student viewed the videotapes of the peer response group in which the student had participated, and the students answered researcher questions about the group's interactions. The interviews were audiotaped, and the tapes were transcribed. The transcripts from the interviews were examined recursively by the researchers, and patterns were noted. This analysis yielded a description of the key participants' perceptions of their construction of peer response interaction. The analysis indicated that both the Chinese and Spanish-speaking students preferred negative comments that identified problems in their drafts. They also preferred the teacher's comments over those of other students and viewed grammar and sentence-level comments as relatively ineffective. The Chinese and Spanish-speaking students had different views, however. about the amount and kind of talk that was needed to identify problems.

Searching for Kiyoko: Bettering Mandatory ESL Writing Placement

Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi, USA

This essay proposes ways to improve mandatory college placement for ESL writers and explores them through theory, an experiment, and a case study. Current methods of placement have problems with reader bias and instructional validity and sometimes disregard common facts of writing diagnosis. The proposed new method intends to avoid the problems by combining and balancing these cognitive acts. It divides readers into two tiers. The first is non-specialist faculty, who read essays with information about the writer hidden, but who can only place students into the most desired course; the second tier is specialist faculty who read with foreknowledge of the writer's name and background. Six years of placement outcomes of this system are reported at one university. Results are also reported of an experiment (participant N= 124) in the reading of the placement writing of a Japanese student (Kiyoko) in which foreknowledge about the writer was systematically varied. Results supported the proposed new system in that ethnic and language-status inferences about the writer (some incorrect) and foreknowledge about the writer's background were systematically associated with changes in evaluation and placement. Finally, the actual placement history of Kiyoko and the possible effects of knowledge about contrastive rhetoric on the placement are considered as further support of the method.

Transitions: The Balancing Act of Bilingual Academics

Keio University, Japan

Grounded in Lave and Wenger's (1991) notion of situated learning, this qualitative case study examines the Japanese and English academic writing activities and attitudes of four bilingual Japanese scholars, educated at the graduate level in the United States, who then returned to work at a Japanese university. In particular, the study focuses on the transitional experiences of the two younger scholars who were just starting their academic careers. On returning to Japan, they found themselves juggling two sets of values and expectations. Residing in Japan, yet not wishing to forego ties with the English speaking academic community, they faced difficult decisions regarding what scholarly activities to pursue, what values to place on those activities, and what shape their professional identities would take. All four informants found writing in Japanese and English to be central in their professional lives, and all perceived differences in the two writing worlds, in spite of many broad commonalities. I conclude this paper by reflecting on the complex and local nature of the informants' writing experiences, on the impossibility of situating these scholars in one cultural camp or the other, and on the expanded view of academic writing that seems called for.

The Composing Processes of Three Southeast Asian Writers at the Post-Secondary Level: An Exploratory Study

College of St. Catherine

The purpose of this study was to explore the writing processes of Southeast Asian students with different educational backgrounds. The secondary purpose was to determine if the methodology used was valid and reliable. Students were given an article to read and then asked to write their opinion about the topic. Students were videotaped as they wrote, with the camera focused specifically on the movement of their pen on paper. They were then interviewed about their writing process and about what they had been thinking during selected pause times, which had been captured on videotape and were played back to stimulate recall of the students' thought processes. Their responses were transcribed and then categorized according to what aspect of their writing they had been attending to during their pauses as well as what strategies they used to help generate a solution to a perceived problem in their writing (Cumming, 1989). The students differed in their degree of metacognitive awareness, their ability to integrate information from the reading into their writing, the amount of attention paid to different aspects of their writing, and the quantity and variety of problem-solving strategies employed. Directions for future research are discussed. 

Volume 7, Number 3 (1998)

The Impact of Teacher Written Feedback on Individual Writers

Open University, Hong Kong

This study investigates ESL writers' reactions to and uses of written feedback. Using a case study approach and a variety of data sources including observation notes, interview transcripts and written texts, overall findings on six students' use of written feedback throughout a course will be briefly discussed. The paper then focuses on two student writers who show contrasting patterns of feedback use and who also both become much less positive about their writing during the course. The student revisions after receiving teacher written feedback are analyzed and contextual data is used to gain a deeper understanding of the students' motivations and responses to the feedback. The data show that use of teacher written feedback varies due to individual differences in needs and student approaches to writing. It also appears to be affected by the different experiences students bring with them to the classroom setting. Some implications for teachers giving feedback are also given. It is suggested that there needs to be a more open teacher/student dialogue on feedback, since the data suggest that the feedback situation has great potential for miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Undergraduates Arguing a Case

National University of Singapore

This essay describes an instructional study in which students were trained in two key aspects of argumentation, namely, the structural and interpersonal components. The structural aspects were taught and measured in terms of Toulmin's (1958) framework of argument analysis (i.e., the quality of claims, grounds and warrants used). The interpersonal aspects in turn were measured in terms of the creation of a clear persona, audience adaptiveness (the appropriate use of rational and emotional appeals), and stance towards the unique discourse of argumentation. Students performed a pre-instruction writing task, underwent eight weeks of explicit instruction in argumentation, then performed the task again. Findings contrasting pre-and post-test results reveal statistically significant improvement in students' abilities to formulate claims, to offer specific and developed grounds, and to use more reliable warrants. Students also showed improvement in the interpersonal aspects of argument, building better writer credibility, developing fuller rational and emotional appeals, and conveying both sides of an argument in order to resolve the problem at hand.

Feedback on Student Writing: Taking the Middle Path

SEAMEO Regional Language Centre, Singapore
Chinese University of Hong Kong
Chinese University of Hong Kong
Tunghai University, Taiwan

Among the many controversies in second language writing instruction is the issue of whether or not to employ peer feedback. The current study collected anonymous questionnaire data on whether second language learners prefer to receive peer feedback as one type of feedback on their writing. Participants were first-and second-year undergraduate ESL students of lower intermediate to high proficiency, 44 in a university in Hong Kong and 77 in a university in Taiwan. All were enrolled in writing courses in which peer, self, and teacher feedback were used. The chi-square test was used to analyze the questionnaire data, with the alpha level set at .05. A statistically significant percentage of participants (93% ) indicated they preferred to have feedback from other students as one type of feedback on their writing. This finding, as well as students' written explanations of their choices, is discussed with reference to how best to incorporate peer feedback into second language writing instruction.

Effects of Prewriting Discussions on Adult ESL Students' Compositions

University of Hong Kong

This study assessed whether peer talk and teacher-led prewriting discussions affected the quality of students' compositions. Forty-seven adult ESL students from three pre-university writing classes participated. Each student wrote three drafts of opinion essays under conditions of peer discussion, teacher-led discussion, and no discussion. Nonparametric tests of rating scores showed no statistically significant differences overall in the writing under the three conditions. However, students were found to write longer drafts in the condition of no discussion, shorter drafts after teacher-led talk, and drafts with a greater variety of verbs after peer talk. Comparison of students' use of verbs in both written and spoken texts traced the effects of various prewriting conditions. Whereas the no discussion condition led to longer drafts (presumably because students had more time to write than in the talk-write sessions), prewriting discussions provided social contexts where either the teacher scaffolded students In the whole class situation to conceptualize their thinking, or students assisted each other in peer groups to explore more freely and generate diverse vocabulary and ideas for the writing tasks. These results imply that teachers may usefully balance these prewriting conditions to generate various types of thinking and discourse processes that facilitate adult ESL students' writing. The study also highlights the importance of the time factor and the relationship between length and quality in L2 writing.


Volume 8, Number 1 (1999)

The Case for Grammar Correction in L2 Writing Classes: A Response to Truscott (1996)

California State University, Sacramento, USA

John Truscott's 1996 Language Learning article, "The case against grammar correction in L2 writing classes:' has led to a great deal of discussion and even some controversy about the best way to approach issues of accuracy and error correction in ESL composition. This article evaluates Truscott's arguments by discussing points of agreement and disagreement with his claims and by examining the research evidence he uses to support his conclusions. The paper concludes that Truscott's thesis that "grammar correction has no place in writing courses and should be abandoned" (1996, p. 328) is premature and overly strong and discusses areas for further research.

The Use of Restructuring Strategies in EFL Writing: A Study of Spanish Learners of English as a Foreign Language

Universidad de Murcia, Spain

This article presents two small-scale studies which analyze how Spanish learners of English use Restructuring, an important formulation strategy in L2 composing. Restructuring is the search for an alternative syntactic plan once the writer predicts, anticipates or realizes that the original one is not going to be satisfactory for a variety of linguistic, ideational or textual reasons. Data for Study 1 were obtained from think-aloud protocols of five intermediate EFL subjects on two tasks. Results indicate that Restructuring has different functions in L2 composing processes: it can compensate for the lack of linguistic resources typical of L2 learners, but it can also serve stylistic, ideational, textual and procedural goals. In Study 2 we analyze the protocols of students at two proficiency levels in order to find the effects of L2 proficiency on the different uses of Restructuring uncovered in Study 1. Results show that while both groups used Restructuring in L2 writing, the intermediate group restructured for compensatory purposes significantly more than the advanced group, whose main goals were of an ideational and textual nature. Thus, L2 proficiency seems to playa role in determining the focus of concerns of Restructuring in L2 composing.

Individualism, Academic Writing, and ESL Writers

University of Alabama, USA

Recent research has pointed to the cultural values implicit in L1-oriented composition pedagogy-a form of pedagogy which is increasingly being encountered by university ESL writers. In this article we examine four principles and practices of L1-oriented composition which appear to tacitly incorporate a U.S. mainstream ideology of individualism: voice, peer review, critical thinking, and textual ownership. We discuss ways in which these principles and practices may not comport well with the cultural approaches taken by many ESL students, depending substantially on past studies to support our discussion. In concluding, we argue that the ideology of individualism described in this article also underlies recent critiques of cross-cultural writing research, and we end by restating the primary rationale of cross-cultural writing research-that sociocultural knowledge regarding our students contributes vitally to knowing who they really are.

Local Coherence and its Limits: A Second Look at Second Sentences

National University of Singapore

Our article takes up Joy Reid's (1996) proposal that "second sentences deserve a second look" in academic writing research and pedagogy. Reid's data and commentaries indicate that second sentences, the sentences following topic sentences, make important but generally underrated contributions to the (in)coherence of students' written paragraphs. Her study, in a U.S. university, found that English as a second language (ESL) student writers often developed paragraphs that did not meet the expectations of experienced native English speaker (NES) readers. We offer a contextualized critique and partial replication of Reid's exploratory study. Our research, in Singapore, investigates second sentence writing by English-knowing bilingual (EKE) students, and the expectations of experienced EKE academic readers. A comparison of our findings with Reid's yielded differences on the same three prompts as in the original study. These results lead us to conclude that our student writer sample is interestingly distinguishable from Reid's NES and ESL groupings. Special attention will be paid to responses, both by students and by academic readers, which did not conform to Reid's expectations for paragraph development in second sentences. Our discussion pursues questions about local and global coherence in academic writing, including expectations about topic development, and suggests implications for an investigative writing pedagogy.

Volume 8, Number 2 (1999)

The Case for "The Case Against Grammar Correction in L2 Writing Classes": A Response to Ferris

National Tsing Hua University

Ferris ( 1999) rejects my case against grammar correction in L2 writing classes (Truscott, 1996) and attempts to build her own case for the practice. This paper responds to her criticisms. I argue that these criticisms are both unfounded and highly selective, leaving large portions of my case unchallenged and, in some cases, even strengthening them. If the case for correction has any appeal, it rests on a strong bias-that critics must prove beyond any doubt that correction is never a good idea, while supporters need only show that uncertainty remains.

Writing for Scholarly Publication in English: The Case of Hong Kong

City University of Hong Kong

With English becoming increasingly dominant as the international language of research and publication, there is a need to empirically investigate the question of international scholarly publication in English on the part of non-native speakers of English, This paper presents the results of a large-scale survey concerning publication in international refereed journals in English by Hong Kong Chinese academics who have Cantonese as their first language. The survey seeks answers to the following questions: What exposure to English have these Hong Kong scholars had? What are their attitudes towards publishing in English? What are their problems? What are their strategies for successful publishing? And what change to the language of publication, if any, do they see accompanying the reversion of sovereignty over Hong Kong from Britain to China?

ESL Student Revision after Teacher-Written Comments: Text, Contexts, and Individuals

Iowa State University, USA
Monterey Institute of International Studies, USA

In this study, we investigate the relationship between written comments and students' subsequent revisions for one teacher and three students in an advanced ESL composition course. Data include the teacher's comments, the students' drafts before and after the comments, and discussions during conferences that shed light on the students' revision processes. Associations between characteristics of the comments and the success of students' subsequent revisions are first examined. While it initially appears that certain formal characteristics of the comments were associated with successful revision (e.g., declaratives rather than questions), further analysis reveals that only one feature typically related to revision success: The type of revision problem that was addressed. Students tended to be successful in resolving many types of revision problems (e.g., adding examples, increasing cohesion), but they were unsuccessful in revising problems related to explanation, explicitness, and analysis. However, there were exceptions to this typical pattern, and to better understand these exceptions, we describe each student's revision process. Factors such as content knowledge, strongly-held beliefs, the course context, and the pressure of other commitments provide explanations for students' revision decisions and account for unexpected success or lack of success in their revising. The study shows that, in order to understand how students revise in response to written feedback, we must look not only at the nature of the comments themselves, but also at the types of problems students are being asked to revise and at individual factors affecting the students.

Toward a More Comprehensive View of L2 Writing: Foreign Language Writing in the U.S.

University of Toledo, USA

In order to be accurate and inclusive, a theory of second-language writing must take into account information about foreign language (FL) (i.e., non-English) writing. This article reviews over 200 published works concerning FL writing and research pedagogy in the United States and proposes directions for inquiry in FL writing, focusing especially on the need for discussion of the purpose of writing in the FL course. The article also outlines ways in which ESL writing specialists can benefit from becoming familiar with FL writing research and pedagogy.

Volume 8, Number 3 (1999)

The Effects of Trained Peer Response on ESL Students' Revision Types and Writing Quality

University of Pennsylvania, USA

Since the late 1980s, peer response to writing has gained increasing attention in the English as Second Language (ESL) field. Whereas affective benefits have been reported in the literature, little is known about the effects of peer response on ESL students' revision and writing outcomes. This study investigates these effects and also considers an often-cited suggestion for successful peer response, that is, training students to effectively participate in the peer response activity. The principal question addressed by the study is whether trained peer response shapes ESL students' revision types and writing quality. Effects of trained peer response were investigated through a comparison of 46 ESL students divided into two groups, one trained in how to participate in peer response to writing and the other not trained. Revision types were identified based on a taxonomy that discriminates between two types of changes: those that affect text meaning and those that do not (Faigley & Witte, 1981). Writing quality was determined by a holistic rating procedure of first versus revised drafts. Results of the investigation indicate that trained peer response positively affected ESL students' revision types and quality of texts.

Problems in Writing for Scholarly Publication in English: The Case of Hong Kong

City University of Hong Kong

Through in-depth interviews, this paper identifies a range of problems which confront Hong Kong Chinese scholars in writing for publication in English and which they feel put them at a disadvantage vis-a-vis native speakers of that language. These problems are as follows: they have less facility of expression; it takes them longer to write; they have a less rich vocabulary; they find it difficult to make claims for their research with the appropriate amount of force; their process of composition may be influenced by their L1; qualitative articles are more problematic than quantitative articles; they are restricted to a simple style; and the introductions and discussions to scholarly articles are particularly problematic parts. Given the reduction of emphasis on English in Hong Kong following the reversion to Chinese sovereignty, these problems are likely to increase. A number of recommendations are made to remediate the situation.

The Effect of Peer and Teacher Feedback on Student Writing

Indiana University, USA

Although teacher and peer feedback, together with required revision, is a common component of the process-approach English as Second Language (ESL) writing classroom, the effect that the feedback and revision process has on the improvement of student writing is as yet undetermined. The researcher analyzed II ESL student essays in detail: categorizing the types and sources of revisions made according to Faigley and Witte' s ( 1981) taxonomy of revisions, evaluating the first and final drafts of the students' essays, and recording students' verbal reports during revision. While the majority of revisions that students made were surface-level revisions, the changes they made as a result of peer and teacher feedback were more often meaning-level changes than those revisions they made on their own. It was also found that writing multiple drafts resulted in overall essay improvement.

Rhetorical Consciousness Raising in the L2 Reading Classroom

Hong Kong Polytechnic University

This article outlines how rhetorical consciousness was developed in a group of L2 tertiary student readers and examines how such consciousness influenced students' reading and writing. The participants were 15 Chinese, Year-1 EA students attending small-group tutorials that aimed to help them with their readings for a course entitled "Language and Society ." Rhetorical consciousness was developed through regular discussions regarding the features of texts that students perceived as "reader-friendly." The classroom discussions were recorded and analyzed. In-depth interviews were conducted, and the essays written were analyzed. These data were complemented by retrospective protocol data. Students identified and elaborated four textual elements as reader-friendly, which, they believed, had enabled them to formulate a more acceptable overall gist of a text, thus making them "better" readers. However, they did not apply the reader-friendliness features to their texts although they perceived an increased ability to detect their textual problems. The interview data suggested that with evolving rhetorical consciousness, these L2 students had become more aware of the nature of written discourse. As readers, they effectively used devices that make texts reader-friendly to get a gist of a text read, and as writers, they were able to explain why they saw school sponsored writing as a distinct genre.

Thoughts on Some Recent Evidence Concerning the Affective Advantage of Peer Feedback

University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA

This paper is a response to Jacobs, Curtis, Braine, and Huang's paper (1998) that critiqued Zhang's study (1995) on the oft-claimed affective advantage of peer feedback over teacher feedback in the English as Second Language (ESL) writing class. An examination of the results reported by Jacobs and associates (1998) revealed that their findings validated Zhang's (1995) finding, as well as his summary of research conclusions drawn prior to 1995, that peer feedback does not have an affective advantage over teacher feedback in the ESL writing class. This paper addresses the methodological concerns raised by Jacobs et al. ( 1998) and emphasizes the need to reexamine assumptions about the ESL writing process in order to better address the affective disadvantage of peer feedback relative to teacher feedback in the ESL writing class.

Individualism and the Teaching of Writing: Response to Vai Ramanathan and Dwight Atkinson

University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA

I am grateful to the editors for inviting me to respond to "Individualism, academic writing, and ESL writers" by Vai Ramanathan and Dwight Atkinson, (JSLW 8.1 [1999]). I was invited because the authors refer repeatedly to my work as a problem for ESL students. I can say that I am largely in agreement with what I would call their root claim, namely, that certain common principles and practices of U.S. university writing pedagogy can carry individualistic implications that can be problematic for some ESL students. But I have some substantial reservations about the various ways in which they pursue this general point. I will focus my response on two key ambiguities that I find central to their essay-treating the first one briefly and the second one at length.


Volume 9, Number 1 (2000)

On the Future of Second Language Writing: A Colloquim

Humboldt State University, USA
Temple University, Japan
University of California, USA
Purdue University, USA

Editors' note: Publishing the articles read at an L2 writing colloquium is new for the Journal of Second Language Writing. Furthermore, we would not normally publish our own work in this journal. However because of its focus on the future of L2 writing, we felt that JSLW readers would find this discussion particularly vital and asked Terry Santos to guest edit the articles read at the TESOL Colloquium she organized in order to include them in this first of the year/century/millennium issue of the JSLW. (I.L.)

"On the future of second language writing" originated as a colloquium at the 1999 TESOL Convention in New York. The topic arose from what seemed to a few of us on the panel as an interesting, or even alarming, paradox: that on one hand, L2 writing has become an independent field in applied linguistics for the first time in 60 years, i.e., the modern history of TESOL. On the other hand, however, the number of L2 writing specialists with Ph.D.s in applied linguistics does not seem to be increasing; the major figures in L2 writing can be counted on the fingers of two hands, and of those, only a few teach in Ph.D. programs. If these facts are true, what will they mean for the future of the field? As the following articles make clear, the five of us were by no means of one mind on this question, and as we outlined our various positions, we tended to fall at different points along a continuum of pessimism to optimism, which became the basis for the order of presentation of our articles. In sharing our views with a wider audience, we would like to open the discussion to all of you and invite you to join it. (Introduction by Terry Santos)

Literature and L2 Composition: Revisiting the Debate

Ohio State University, USA

The role of literature in the composition classroom has long been controversial. In this article, we examine the arguments both for and against the use of literature by, first, surveying the main stances taken in L1 composition pedagogical theory, which predate and have significantly influenced L2 composition, and then by reviewing L2 compositionists' own perspectives on literature. The L2 arguments can be seen as resonating, but at the same time, diverging from those of L I writing theory. Yet, all can be interpreted as responses to by now familiar themes in both L2 and L1 compositions, such as process versus product, academic discourse community initiation versus preparation for life, and hegemony of the established elite versus empowerment of the less privileged. Our goal in this review of the long-standing debate is not to encourage polarization for or against literature, but rather to provide, through the varied perspectives presented, a basis for informed decisions about the possible value of literature in particular contexts in which teachers and their students find themselves.

L2 Professional Writing in a US and South American Context

Ohio University, USA

Using research methods that assess cross-cultural rhetorical differences at three levels, this study explores two cases of professional writing among US and South American personnel in one multinational organization in Quito, Ecuador. One major rhetorical difference was the pronounced need of many of the South Americans for historical and contextual information. In addition, the US writer consistently re-worked the concrete and particular patterns of the South Americans into more abstract and universal patterns for his US audiences. Finally, many of the South American documents exhibited accumulated logical structures, which the US writer revised to be more analytical for his US audiences. These differences in history, context, particularism, and accumulative logic seemed to reflect very predominant cultural patterns because they correlated closely with other cross-cultural studies. However, some rhetorical differences such as originality and hypercodification reflected local usage while others, such as distance and procedures, seemed based on personal choice and adaptation to specific audiences. Thus, this study exemplifies the larger, cultural and rhetorical patterns that seem central to basic theories of contrastive rhetoric, but it also highlights the exceptions and preferences that are based on local and individual needs.

Volume 9, Number 2 (2000)

Professional Writing and the Role of Incidental Collaboration: Evidence from a Medical Setting

Universite Laval, Quebec, Canada

Despite a long-standing interest in the workplace, research that explores how employees working in a second language develop competence in written genres is scant. Drawing on a 22-month qualitative study, which involved francophone nurses employed in an English-medium hospital, the present article reports on how incidental' collaboration played a significant role in enabling them to appropriate genre-specific language. Analysis revealed that interventions targeted three levels of text structure-linguistic, rhetorical and informational. Although most interventions were initiated by the nurses themselves (self initiated), colleagues also offered help (other-initiated). The pattern of interaction shows that nurses were most likely to interact with colleagues with whom they were linked in an official or semi-official capacity. The way in which more experienced colleagues provided support for new nurses and the nature of the support are discussed in relation to Lave and Wenger's notion of legitimate peripheral participation and activity theory. It is further suggested that the role of the writing instructor within the workplace be reconceived to take into account the socioculturally embedded nature of writing.

Using Computer-Tagged Linguistic Features to Describe L2 Writing Differences

Central Michigan University, USA
Purdue University, USA

This study examined the extent to which a computerized tagging program was able to capture proficiency level differences of second language (L2) learners' essays. A sample of 90 Test of Written English (TWE) essays, written at three levels of proficiency as defined by TWE ratings, were tagged for features of essay length, lexical specificity (type/token ratio and average word length), lexical features ( e.g., conjuncts, hedges), grammatical structures (e.g., nouns, nominalizations, modals), and clause level features (e.g., subordination, passives). The results indicate that computerized tagging can be used to reveal detailed differences among proficiency levels, but that additional coding into the program or tagging by hand is necessary to gain a more complete picture of differences in L2 students' writing.

Do Secondary L2 Writers Benefit from Peer Comments?

University of Hong Kong, People's Republic of China
Carmel Secondary School, People's Republic of China

The bulk of the studies conducted on the effectiveness of teacher comments and peer comments have been done with tertiary L2 learners, and conflicting findings have been obtained. While some found that peer comments were viewed with skepticism and induced little revision, others found that they did help learners to identify and raise awareness of their strengths and weaknesses in writing. This article reports on a study of the roles of teacher and peer comments in revisions in writing among secondary L2 learners in Hong Kong. Both quantitative and qualitative data were obtained and triangulated. The findings show that some learners incorporated high percentages of both teacher and peer comments, some incorporated higher percentages of teacher comments than peer comments, and others incorporated very low percentages of peer comments. While all learners favored teacher comments and saw the teacher as a figure of authority that guaranteed quality, only those who incorporated very low percentages of peer comments dismissed them as not useful. From the interviews with the learners, four roles of peer comments that contributed positively to the writing process were identified. Peer comments enhance a sense of audience, raise learners' awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses, encourage collaborative learning, and foster the ownership of text. This suggests that even for L2 learners who are less mature L2 writers, peer comments do play an important part. The implications of the findings of this study for the writing teacher are also discussed.

Genres, Authors, Discourse Communities: Theory and Application for (L1 and) L2 Writing Instructors

University of California, USA
Emeritus Professor, University of Southern California

This article discusses ways in which disciplinary practices contribute to the simultaneously rigid and fluid nature of genres and the general importance of sensitizing (Ll and) L2 writing instructors to genre-stability and genre-change. Heightening genre awareness in L2 writing instructors is proposed as a possible "in" toward developing their meta-awareness. Making them reflect on social practices within their discourse communities that contribute to ways in which genres remain stable and evolve will give them a sharper sense of how they, through their participation in the communities, do/do not effect changes. Genre knowledge is best conceptualized as a form of situated cognition embedded in disciplinary activities (Berkenkotter & Huckin, 1993, p. 477). Meta-knowledge is power, because it leads to the ability to manipulate, to analyze, to resist while advancing. Such meta-knowledge can make 'maladapted' students smarter than "adapted" ones (Gee, 1990, pp. 148-149).

Volume 9, Number 3 (2000)

Writing English as a Foreign Language: A Report from Ukraine

Dnepropetrovsk State Technical University of Railway Transport, Ukranine

This report investigates teaching writing in English in Ukraine. The past and present situations in teaching writing and the reasons for avoiding teaching communicative writing skills in English courses in that country are considered. The results of Ukrainian EFL students' needs analysis are presented, these results indicating the necessity of introducing writing into EFL courses. The process-genre approach is postulated as a foundation for elaborating an effective writing course for Ukraine, and the first version of the course based on such an approach is analyzed. Causes of the failure of this course are reported. It is demonstrated that a successful EFL writing course has to be not only communicative but also state-of-the-art. To motivate students, it also has to involve them from the beginning level in activities, making writing itself fun. The second (successful) version of the course, with a great part of learning organized as writing for fun, is presented, and its advantages are shown.

Patterns of Teacher Response to Student Writing in a Multiple-Draft Composition Classroom: Is Content Feedback Followed by Form Feedback the Best Method?

Komazawa Junior College, Japan

In this study, four different patterns of teacher feedback were given to foreign language students producing a first draft (D1), a second draft (D2), and a final version (D3) of a single composition. The pattern usually recommended within a process writing approach of content-focused feedback on D1 followed by form-focused feedback on D2 was compared with the reverse pattern, another pattern in which form and content feedback were mixed at both stages, and a control pattern of zero feedback. It was found that the recommended pattern of feedback did not produce significantly different results from the other two patterns in which feedback was given in terms of gains in formal accuracy or in terms of content score gains between D1 and D3. A post-hoc analysis of changes made by students revealed that students may have relied heavily on form feedback and that content feedback had only a moderate effect on revision. Explanations for these findings are put forward and the implications for the classroom are drawn.

Toward an Empirical Model of EFL Writing Processes: An Exploratory Study

Nagoya Gakuin University, Japan

The present study investigated EFL learners' writing processes using multiple data sources including their written texts, videotaped pausing behaviors while writing, stimulated recall protocols, and analytic scores given to the written texts. Methodologically, the study adopted a research scheme that has been successfully used for building models of Japanese L1 writing. Three paired groups of Japanese EFL writers (experts vs. novices, more- vs. less-skilled student writers, novices before and after 6 months of instruction) were compared in terms of writing fluency, quality/complexity of their written texts, their pausing behaviors while writing, and their strategy use. The results revealed that (a) before starting to write, the experts spent a longer time planning a detailed overall organization, whereas the novices spent a shorter time, making a less global plan; (b) once the experts had made their global plan, they did not stop and think as frequently as the novices; (c) L2 proficiency appeared to explain part of the difference in strategy use between the experts and novices; and (d) after 6 months of instruction, novices had begun to use some of the expert writers' strategies. It was also speculated that the experts' global planning was a manifestation of writing expertise that cannot be acquired over a short period of time.

Topical Structure Analysis of Academic Paragraphs in English and Spanish

Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia

The present study examines 40 paragraphs selected from articles published in academic journals in English and Spanish from within the context of cultural differences in writing. Based on earlier findings by Lux and Grabe, Montaņo-Harmon, Reid, and Reppen and Grabe, among others, that paragraphs composed in English and Spanish by children and adolescents are different, an analysis was conducted of 40 paragraphs written by adult academics and published in academic journals, focusing on the physical structure and the topical structure. The physical characteristics of the paragraphs included the number of words, sentences, and clauses. Results of this quantitative analysis reflect findings from earlier studies describing English-Spanish differences. The topical structure analysis (TSA), an analysis of coherence derived by examining the internal topical structure of each paragraph as reflected by the repetition of key words and phrases, provides insights into the organizational patterns favored by professional writers in these two languages. The results of the TSA show that English paragraphs tend to have a high use of internal coherence, while Spanish paragraphs do not generally tend to use immediate progression as a device for coherence.


Volume 10, Number 1/2 (2001)

Special Issue: Voice in L2 Writing
Guest Editors: Diane Belcher and Alan Hirvela

I am How I Sound: Voice as Self-Representation in L2 Writing

Lancaster University, UK
Instituto Technologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Mexico

One of the characteristics of writing is that it does not carry the phonetic and prosodic qualities of speech. We will argue, however, that the lexical, syntactic, organizational, and even the material aspects of writing construct identity just as much as do the phonetic and prosodic aspects of speech, and thus writing always conveys a representation of the self of the writer. In this sense, "voice" is not an optional extra: All writing contains "voice" in the Bakhtinian sense of reaccentuating "voice types," which locate their users culturally and historically. Writers may, through the linguistic and other resources they choose to draw upon in their writing, ventriloquate an environmentally aware voice, a progressive educator voice, a sexist voice, a positivist voice, a self-assured voice, a deferential voice, a committed-to-plain-English voice, or a combination of an infinite number of such voices. We will illustrate this argument with examples from the writing of six graduate students studying in British universities. We will recommend that an L2 writing pedagogy that raises critical awareness about voice can help learners maintain control over the personal and cultural identity they are projecting in their writing.

Voice in Japanese Written Discourse: Implications for Second Language Writing

University of New Hampshire, USA

While the study of written discourse that informs the field of L2 writing has generated many insights into its generalizable features, individual variations have largely been neglected. This article explores the possibilities for the study of divergent aspects of discursive practices by focusing on the notion of voice and considers the implications for L2 writing research and instruction. I begin by examining recent critiques of the notion of voice that emphasize its strong association with the ideology of individualism and argue that the notion of voice is not exclusively tied to individualism. To demonstrate that the practice of constructing voice is not entirely foreign to so-called "collectivist cultures," I present evidence of voice in Japanese electronic discourse, focusing on how voice is constructed through the use of language-specific features. Based on this analysis, I argue that the difficulties that Japanese students face in constructing voice in English written discourse are due not to its incompatibility with their cultural orientation but to the different ways in which voice is constructed in Japanese and English as well as the lack of familiarity with the strategies available in English.

Voices in Text, Mind, and Society: Sociohistoric Accounts of Discourse Acquisition and Use

University of Illinois, USA

Voice is often represented either expressively as personal and individualistic or socially as a discourse system. Drawing on sociohistoric theory (particularly Voloshinov and Bakhtin), in this article, I argue for a third view in which voice is simultaneously personal and social because discourse is understood as fundamentally historical, situated, and indexical. Specifically, I explore three key ways that voice may be understood from this perspective: voice as a typification linked to social identities; voice as the reenvoicing of others' words in texts (oral and written) through processes of repetition and presupposition; and finally, voice as it is linked to the situated production of persons and social formations. All three are central to discourse acquisition and use in general and to literate activity in particular. Finally, I conclude by considering the implications of this theoretical perspective for second language writing pedagogies.

Coming Back to Voice: The Multiple Voices and Identities of Mature Multilingual Writers

The Ohio State University, USA

Compositionists often speak of the need to help students acquire a voice or identity in their writing. This interest in teaching voice is understandable but also problematic. Satisfactorily defining "voice," especially from a second language (L2) point of view, is one of those problems. Another is a reliance on various conceptualizations that privilege a "Western" or a romantic or individualistic notion of voice in classroom situations where many students do not share such a background. In this paper, we use three case studies to address a third problem: a tendency in L2 writing instruction and research to overlook the voices, or identities, already possessed by L2 writers, many of whom at the graduate level bring a history of success as professional/academic writers in their native language and culture to the L2 writing classroom. We examine the role voice can play not as a teaching device but rather as a means by which to investigate and understand the voice-related issues these mature writers encounter in L2 contexts.

Volume 10, Number 3 (2001)

What Develops Along with the Development of Second Language Writing? Exploring the "By-products"

Tel Aviv University, Israel
Bar-Ilan University, Israel
Tel Aviv University, Israel

The intuitive notion that students undergo unexpected yet profound changes as participants in writing courses has been shared by many writing teachers but, to our knowledge, has not been systematically examined. This exploratory study investigates predicted and unpredicted changes that learners undergo as they develop writing skills in EFL Academic Writing courses. These changes--considered to develop along with the writing skills--were examined quantitatively and qualitatively in an earlier study (Katznelson, Perpignan, & Rubin, 1999). Writing courses as agents of transformation: an exploratory study [CD-ROM. Proceedings of the TDTR4 IATEFL Conference, Leuven, Belgium.]. In the present study, we report on the qualitative data elicited from learners' self-reports which yielded three perceived categories of changes: outcomes in writing in English, outcomes in writing in general, and our major category--"by-products" of writing courses, some of which expressed learners' perceptions of intrapersonal and interpersonal development. Many of these perceived outcomes corresponded to the highest of six levels of learning outcomes defined by Marton, Dall'Alba, and Beaty (1989) as "changing as a person." These findings may lead to a better understanding of the nature and range of changes learners undergo in Academic Writing courses, providing a basis for reviewing the aims of such courses and leading us to reexamine the overall educational value of the teaching of Academic Writing to university students.

Error Feedback in L2 Writing Classes: How Explicit Does It Need to Be?

California State University, Sacramento, USA

Though controversy continues as to whether error feedback helps L2 student writers to improve the accuracy and overall quality of their writing (Ferris, 1999a; Truscott, 1996; Truscott, 1999), most studies on error correction in L2 writing classes have provided evidence that students who receive error feedback from teachers improve in accuracy over time. One issue which has not been adequately examined is how explicit error feedback should be in order to help students to self-edit their texts. In this experimental classroom study, we investigated 72 university ESL students' differing abilities to self-edit their texts across three feedback conditions: (1) errors marked with codes from five different error categories; (2) errors in the same five categories underlined but not otherwise marked or labeled; (3) no feedback at all. We found that both groups who received feedback significantly outperformed the no-feedback group on the self-editing task but that there were no significant differences between the "codes" and "no-codes" groups. We conclude that less explicit feedback seemed to help these students to self-edit just as well as corrections coded by error type.

Sugaring the Pill: Praise and Criticism in Written Feedback

University of Hong Kong, China
City University of Hong Kong, China

This paper offers a detailed text analysis of the written feedback given by two teachers to ESL students over a complete proficiency course. We consider this feedback in terms of its functions as praise, criticism, and suggestions. Praise was the most frequently employed function in the feedback of these two teachers, but this was often used to soften criticisms and suggestions rather than simply responding to good work. Many of the criticisms and suggestions were also mitigated by the use of hedging devices, question forms, and personal attribution. We explore the motivations for these mitigations through teacher interviews and think-aloud protocols and examine cases where students failed to understand their teachers' comments due to their indirectness. While recognising the importance of mitigation strategies as a means of minimising the force of criticisms and enhancing effective teacher-student relationships, we also point out that such indirectness carries the very real potential for incomprehension and miscommunication.

Volume 10, Number 4 (2001)

The Effect of Corrections and Commentaries on the Journal Writing Accuracy of Minority- and Majority-Language Students

McGill University and Concordia University, Canada

This classroom-based experimental study examined the effect of differential feedback (corrections, commentaries, and combination of the two) on the journal writing accuracy of minority- and majority-language students being educated in the same classrooms. Journal writing samples were collected from 112 students (46 minority-language and 66 majority-language) over a period of four months in four Grade 5 classrooms where the language of instruction is French. The two student groups were randomly assigned to feedback conditions, and feedback to writing was provided weekly. Extensive classroom observations were carried out with the aim of determining the pedagogical orientation of the French language arts lessons; individual interviews were conducted to tap the extent to which students attended to their feedback. For both student groups, results indicate no significant difference in accuracy due to feedback conditions. Outcomes are discussed in light of students' attentiveness to feedback and the pedagogical context of the study.

Interaction and Feedback in Mixed Peer Response Groups

University of South Florida, USA

With the growing number of foreign students on university campuses in the Untied States, mixed peer response groups consisting of both native English speakers and English as a Second Language (ESL) students are often seen in mainstream composition classes. The study reported here examined interaction and feedback in mixed peer response groups by inspecting participants' turn-taking behaviors, language functions performed during peer response, and written feedback on each other's writing. Data were collected from three mixed peer response groups, each with a non-native speaker and two or three native speakers. Transcripts of student discussion of peer writing as well as peer response sheets with students' written comments were analyzed. Findings indicate that the non-native speakers as a group took fewer turns and produced fewer language functions during oral discussion of writing, particularly when they were performing the writer role, but they were comparable to the native speakers with respect to the number of global comments provided in writing.

Exploring the Role of Noticing in a Three-Stage Second Language Writing Task


Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada

The importance of noticing as a cognitive process in second language (L2) acquisition has been increasingly recognized by applied linguistics researchers. However, issues concerning how noticing is related to composing and subsequent feedback processing, and what impact such noticing has on L2 writing improvement, need to be addressed. We conducted a case study to investigate these issues with two Mandarin background adult English-as-a-second language (ESL) learners. The study documents the relationship of noticing, both in the composing stage (Stage 1) and the reformulation stage (Stage 2, where learners compare their own text to a reformulated version of it), to the improvement of the written product in the posttest (Stage 3) of a three stage writing task. The findings suggest that while composing and reformulation promote noticing, the quality of noticing, which relates directly to L2 writing improvement, is different from learners with different levels of L2 proficiency. We argue that while promoting noticing is important, promoting the quality of that noticing is a more important issue to be addressed in L2 writing pedagogy. 


Volume 11, Number 1 (2002)

Language-Switching: Using the First Language While Writing in a Second Language (pp. 7-28)

University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico

In a protocol analysis of L2 writing from 28 adult participants (9 L2 Japanese, 11 L2 English, and 8 L2 Spanish), this research observed how language-switching (L-S), i.e., L1 use in L2 writing, was affected by L2 proficiency, task difficulty, and language group (i.e., the L1/L2 relationship). ANOVA results suggest that less proficient L2 learners switched to their L1s more frequently than more advanced learners (P = 0.004), and that more difficult tasks increased the duration of L1 use in L2 writing (P ≤ 0.001). For students of a cognate language, longer periods of L1 use were related to higher quality L2 texts; for students of a non-cognate language, L-S was related to lower quality texts. Possible reasons for L-S are discussed with examples from the protocols, and suggestions for including L-S in L2 writing models are made.

Responding to Sentence-Level Errors in Writing (pp. 29-47)

Central Missouri State University, USA
Eastern Kentucky University, USA

The debate between Truscott (1996, 1999) and Ferris (1999) on responding to student errors in writing underscores how difficult this issue is for writing teachers. Conventionally, pedagogies have looked at errors separately from principles of text construction. From an interlanguage perspective, we argue that many perplexing errors are the result of the interaction between developing linguistic competence and basic principles of ordering information in texts which learners already know. We show how this interaction results in errors at the sentence-level. These insights are applied to published comments and corrections of sentence-level errors in student writing. Based on the interlanguage perspective we propose, our analysis of these comments and corrections show how teachers may misinterpret a learner's text. The framework we propose situates students' sentence-level errors within their developing skill in constructing target-like texts and provides teachers with another perspective on such errors.

Using Portfolios to Assess the Writing of ESL Students: A Powerful Alternative? (pp. 49-72)

Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York, USA

This article describes a quantitative study that compared the performance of two groups of advanced ESL students in ENG 22, a second semester composition course. Both groups had been enrolled in ENG C2, a compensatory version of Freshman English for students with scores one level below passing on the CUNY Writing Assessment Test (WAT). At the end of ENG C2, one group was assessed on the basis of portfolios, as well as the CUNY WAT; the other was assessed using the WAT. Comparable percentages of students in both groups passed the WAT at the end of C2. However, students from the portfolio group with passing portfolios were permitted to advance to ENG 22 regardless of their performance on the WAT, while students in the non-portfolio group moved ahead only if they had passed the WAT. (The WAT remained a graduation requirement for all students.) The study found that students were twice as likely to pass into ENG 22 from ENG C2 when they were evaluated by portfolio than when they were required to pass the WAT. Nevertheless, at the end of ENG 22, the pass rate and grade distribution for the two groups were nearly identical. Because portfolio assessment was able to identify more than twice the number of ESL students who proved successful in the next English course, however, it seems a more appropriate assessment alternative for the ESL population.

Volume 11, Number 2 (2001)

High School Student Perceptions of First Language Literacy Instruction: Implications for Second Language Writing (pp. 91-116)

Hiroshima University, Japan

The overall goal of this study is to clarify the nature of Japanese students' first language (L1) writing experience and instruction in high school to help university second language (L2) English writing teachers understand their students' needs. Building on the results of a previous large-scale questionnaire study of Japanese (N=389) and American students (N=66), this interview study attempts to gain insight into Japanese L1 literacy instruction in high school through individual students' experiences. The questionnaire study had indicated that Japanese high school language classes provide significantly more instruction in reading than writing and significantly less emphasis on writing than American classes. However, analysis of the data from in-depth interviews (N=21) presented here reveals a more complex picture. Most notably, many Japanese high schools provide intensive writing instruction and practice, outside of regular Japanese classes, to help increasing numbers of individual students prepare for essay writing on university entrance exams. The results of the study call into question the common assumption that Japanese high school students receive little training related to L1 writing. The findings suggest specific ways for teachers to draw on students' strengths in terms of their literacy background to help them bridge the gap between their L1 and L2 writing skills.

Student/Teacher Interaction via Email: The Social Context of Internet Discourse (pp. 117-134)

The Ohio State University, USA

While email has been used in L2 composition classrooms as a way to develop fluency, it can also be used as a means of creating and sustaining relationships, as it is often used outside the classroom. This paper examines the way students in a graduate-level ESL course used email on their own initiative to interact with their instructor. The paper examines 120 email messages received by the instructor during the course and categorizes them into four areas: (1) phatic communion, (2) asking for help, (3) making excuses, and (4) making formal requests. From these categories, representative samples were chosen to illustrate what rhetorical strategies the writers used to achieve their purpose for sending the email messages. The results show that the students were able to employ a wide variety of rhetorical strategies to interact with their instructor outside of the traditional classroom setting. For these students, email seemed to be an important means for interacting with their instructor. Moreover, the students exhibited a good ability to switch between formal and informal language, depending upon the rhetorical context of the message. In the conclusion, some of the issues regarding teaching the use of email are discussed.

Teaching Coherence to ESL Students: A Classroom Inquiry (pp. 135-159)

Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

"Coherence" is traditionally described as the relationships that link the ideas in a text to create meaning for the readers. It is often regarded as a fuzzy concept which is difficult to teach and learn. This paper describes a classroom inquiry which investigated the teaching of coherence. In this study, coherence was defined in terms of a number of coherence-creating devices, and pedagogical materials were designed accordingly to teach the concept to a group of 16 ESL university students in Hong Kong. Data was collected from their pre- and post-revision drafts, think-aloud protocols during revisions, as well as post-study questionnaires and interviews. The findings suggest that at the end of the explicit teaching of coherence, students improved the coherence of their writing and directed their attention to the discourse level of texts while revising. They also felt that the teaching of coherence had enhanced their awareness of what effective writing should entail. The paper concludes with insights gained from the classroom inquiry.

Volume 11, Number 3 (2001)

Critiquing Voice as a Viable Pedagogical Tool in L2 Writing: Returning the Spotlight to Ideas (pp. 177-190)

Hokkaido University, Japan

The issue of voice, authorial identity, or authorial presence in L2 writing has recently received considerable attention from second language researchers. Much of this research has concluded that voice is an integral part of writing and that it should, therefore, become an essential component of second language writing pedagogy. With a particular focus on many of the discursive elements of voice, authorial identity, and authorial presence isolated by this research, this paper critically assesses the body of research and claims that the case for voice in second language pedagogy has been overstated. Furthermore, it is argued that extended discussions about voice may be misleading teachers and students into believing that expressions of identity take precedence over ideas and argumentation. It is concluded that research on L2 academic writing would be better directed towards argumentation skills and ideas than voice.

A Modern History of Written Discourse Analysis (pp. 191-223)

University of Southern California (Emeritus), USA
Northern Arizona University, USA

The term discourse analysis has been used interchangeably in two separate contexts -- spoken discourse (i.e., multiple-source dialogic) and written discourse (i.e., single-source monologic). Such a distinction, however, oversimplifies the situation; while there are obvious overlaps between the two, to some extent each has evolved in its own direction. Written discourse analysis, the subject of our discussion, is obviously closely connected with work in literacy, but it implicates a great heterogeneity of topics and approaches, including at least some from psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics. Discourse analysis, in the sense in which we are using it, emerged in the early 1970s. A modern history of written discourse analysis is perhaps best covered within a 40-50-year time span. In the course of that time, a number of new and emerging disciplines and research fields have contributed to systematic analyses of the linguistic features and patterns occurring in written texts. At the same time, other continuing disciplines have provided contributions that have been important and are ongoing. It should be fairly evident that any attempt to cover such a broad spectrum of views and disciplines would not be appropriate in a single article. We therefore intend to limit the scope of this paper to analyses of written discourse that explore the actual structuring of the text via some consistent framework. Our goal is to highlight and describe historically the various efforts to find the structures and linguistic patterns in texts that contribute to how they are understood, interpreted, and used. It seems to us that, in order to comprehend what has happened in the context of L2 writing research, it is necessary to understand the extensive work that has been done in discourse analysis.

L1 Use in the L2 Composing Process: An Exploratory Study of 16 Chinese EFL Writers (pp. 225-246)

Nanjing University, PR China

This paper reports a study on how ESL/EFL writers use their L1 (first language) when composing in their L2 (second language) and how such L1 use is affected by L2 proficiency and writing tasks. Sixteen Chinese EFL learners were asked to compose aloud on two tasks, narration and argumentation. Analyses of their think-aloud protocols revealed that these student writers had both their L1 and L2 at their disposal when composing in their L2. They were more likely to rely on L1 when they were managing their writing processes, generating and organizing ideas, but more likely to rely on L2 when undertaking task-examining and text-generating activities. Additionally, more L1 use was found in the narrative writing task than in the argumentative writing. Finally, the think-aloud protocols reflected that L1 use decreased with the writer's L2 development, but the extent of the decline of L1 use in individual activities varied. Based on these findings, an L2 composing process model is proposed.

Volume 11, Number 4 (2001)

Special Issue: Early Second Language Writing
Guest Editors: Paul Kei Matsuda and Kevin Eric De Pew

Early Second Language Writing: An Introduction (pp. 261-268)

University of New Hampshire, USA
Purdue University, USA

In this introduction to the special issue on early second language writing, special issues editors discuss the need to pay more attention to the issue of early second language writing--defined as the development of L2 literacy from the writer's first encounter with a second language through the completion of high school education. After a brief review of studies in early L2 writing, possible reasons for the dearth of studies addressing this important area is discussed, followed by an overview of perspectives represented in this special issue.

Emergent Biliteracy in Chinese and English (pp. 269-293)

Indiana University, USA

Will teaching children to read and write in two languages in the school environment lead to confusion and possible interference in the literacy learning process? By focusing on the emergent Chinese and English literacy of a 5-year-old boy from Taiwan, this research provides insights into the debate within the field of bilingual education as to whether the introduction of literacy in languages with two different writing systems helps or hinders literacy development in both languages. The researchers involved the participant in a variety of interactive reading and writing activities and games, both in English and Chinese, for 1.5-2 hours a week over the course of 15 weeks. Drawing on Cummins's (1991) Common Underlying Proficiency Hypothesis, data was coded, analyzed and organized into two categories: the Foundational Level Emergent Literacy Awareness and the Surface Level Emergent Literacy Awareness. Results suggest that Foundational Level Awareness, literacy awareness that applies to either language, is characterized by the intentionality of print, the match between written and spoken words, and the conventions of print. The Surface Level Awareness, literacy awareness unique to each writing system, is differentiated into two distinct categories that pertain to the specifics of the writing systems of English and Chinese. Discussions center on the relationship between Chinese literacy and English literacy, the impact on biliteracy over time, and the participant's future literacy development. Implications for biliteracy research, development, knowledge, and pedagogy are suggested.

Seeing the Invisible: Situating L2 Literacy in Child-Teacher Interaction (pp. 295-310)

University of New Orleans, USA

The author revisits her earlier qualitative research on ESL children's emergence into literacy, which she conducted with 5- and 6-year olds at a multilingual K-12 school in Casablanca, Morocco. Through further reflection and study, she arrives at the notion of "synchronicity"--a dynamic oneness between teacher and child--as the distinguishing feature of three classrooms where children's literacy development was taking place at an extraordinary pace. This work presents readers with new insights into the affective complexities of child-teacher interaction and its role in literacy development.

Learning to Make Things Happen in Different Ways: Causality in the Writing of Middle-Grade English Language Learners (pp. 311-328)

University of Houston, USA

This study addresses two issues: the similarity between L1 and L2 writing development and the nature of the developmental path. The frequency of two types of causality markers in 5th-8th grade essays written by 189 students in ESL and 546 students in regular language arts classes is analyzed. Students wrote on one of two informative "how-to" prompts. The regular language arts students were found to differ in their usage of causality markers between the two topics, whereas the ESL students used the markers similarly across both topics. There were no differences between students at different grade levels in either group. In addition, the ESL students were found to have higher usage of causality markers in general than the regular language arts students. It is suggested that the developmental path for both groups involves moving away from primarily narrative expansion of topic towards display of diverse language forms and discourse strategies.

The Role of Writing in Classroom Second Language Acquisition (pp. 329-350)

University of Georgia, USA

This paper argues that writing should play a more prominent role in classroom-based studies of second language acquisition. It contends that an implicit emphasis on spoken language is the result of the historical development of the field of applied linguistics and parent disciplines of structuralist linguistics, linguistic anthropology, and child language development. Although writing as a communicative modality has been marginalized, it is key to understanding second language acquisition in contexts such as elementary and secondary level content area classrooms where literacy plays a central role in communication and transmission of subject matter. In all, the paper argues that while it is important for classroom-based studies to investigate how students learn how to write in a second language, it is equally important to learn how students learn a second language through writing. Implications of this perspective are noted for notions of learner and target language variation, multimodality and language socialization, and interactionist approaches to classroom research.


Volume 12, Number 1 (2003)

Special Issue: L2 Writing in the Post-Process Era
Guest Editor: Dwight Atkinson

L2 Writing in the Post-Process Era: Introduction (pp. 3-15)

Temple University Japan

In this introduction to the special issue, I attempt to lay out a coherent if still-heuristic notion of "post-process." I do so by first investigating four components of Trimbur's (1994) definition of "post-process": the social; the post-cognitivist; literacy as an ideological arena; and composition as a cultural activity. Next, I review studies in first and especially second language writing/literacy research which have attempted to move beyond process pedagogy and theory, and which for me, at least, provide a sound conceptual basis for further developments in that direction. I then conclude by stating my own summative definition of post-process, and briefly introducing the main contributions to this special issue.

Genre-Based Pedagogies: A Social Response to Process (pp. 17-29)

City University of Hong Kong, China

Process theories have been extremely influential in the evolution of L2 writing instruction. Responding to purely formal views of writing, proponents borrowed the techniques and theories of cognitive psychology and L1 composition to refine the ways we understand and teach writing. While remaining the dominant pedagogical orthodoxy for over 30 years, however, process models have for some time found themselves under siege from more socially-oriented views of writing which reject their inherent liberal individualism. Instead, genre approaches see ways of writing as purposeful, socially situated responses to particular contexts and communities. In this paper, I discuss the importance of genre approaches to teaching L2 writing and how they complement process views by emphasising the role of language in written communication.

New Approaches to Gender, Class, and Race in Second Language Writing (pp. 31-47)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Gender, class, and race are constitutive elements essential to writers' agency and identity. However, these categories are not typically paid substantial attention in second language writing as well as in the larger field of second language acquisition and bilingual development, although issues of gender have been explored to a greater extent than the other two categories. This article summarizes constructivist and poststructuralist approaches to gender discussed recently in the larger field of second language learning and applies key concepts to issues of gender, class, and race in second language writing as well as interrelations among them. Recent discussions on gender and language have problematized fixed understandings of the gender binary in relation to language use. They have explored how gendered use of language is socially and discursively constructed and how gender, language, power, and discourse are related to each other in dynamic and transformative ways. It is suggested that new approaches to gender, class, and race be dialectic in that they should both explore differences between social categories in a non-essentialist way and expose discourse and power relations that are embodied in these differences. Future research agendas on gender, class, and race in second language writing that incorporate these approaches are suggested.

Writing and Culture in the Post-Process Era (pp. 49-63)

Temple University Japan

Does the notion of culture, currently under wide-ranging critique across the social sciences, still have a future? In this paper I discuss three possible uses of the culture concept in the field of second language writing for the 21st century: (1) Turning the cultural lens back on ourselves (where "ourselves" means the very academics who have found the concept most useful in the past); (2) Investigating continuity, universality, and hybridity, whereas the culture concept has traditionally been used to investigate difference, localization, and cultural "purity"; and (3) Expanding, contracting, and complexifying the scope of the culture concept. I conclude by arguing for a view of L2 writing that takes into account the full range of social and cultural contexts impacting L2 writing, rather than focusing narrowly on skills and processes of writing (in the classroom) in themselves.

Process and Post-Process: A Discursive History (pp. 65-83)

University of New Hampshire, USA

While the term post-process can be useful as a heuristic for expanding the scope of the field of second language writing, the uncritical adoption of this and other keywords can have serious consequences because they often oversimplify the historical complexity of the intellectual developments they describe. In order to provide a critical understanding of the term post-process in its own historical context, this article examines the history of process and post-process in composition studies, focusing on the ways in which terms such as current-traditional rhetoric, process, and post-process have contributed to the discursive construction of reality. Based on this analysis, I argue that the use of the term post-process in the context of L2 writing needs to be guided by a critical awareness of the discursive construction process. I further argue that the notion of post-process needs to be understood not as the rejection of process but as the recognition of the multiplicity of L2 writing theories and pedagogies.

Looking Ahead to More Sociopolitically-Oriented Case Study Research in L2 Writing Scholarship: (But Should it Be Called "Post-Process"?) (pp. 85-102)

Teachers College, Columbia University, Japan

In this essay I argue that three familiar areas of inquiry in future L2 writing research need to be investigated in more sociopolitically-oriented ways: written products, writing processes, and writer identity, and that qualitative case studies are well suited to explore the extraordinary diversity of L2 writers and writing contexts from an expanded sociopolitical perspective. However, although substantive changes in how we think about these areas of inquiry appear to be taking place, some resistance to these changes can be expected. Finally, I suggest caution in using the label "post-process" to describe the substantive changes in how we are beginning to view L2 writing scholarship.

Coda: Pushing L2 Writing Research (pp. 103-105)

University of Tennessee, USA

In the form of a coda to this collection of papers, I would like to make something of an observation and an appeal. The idea for the colloquium on which these papers are based was to try to begin to open up some new areas for L2 writing research and for the discussion of L2 writing. Like the colloquium convener, Dwight Atkinson, others too have had the sense that work in L2 writing has been somewhat undertheorized, not in terms of developing or debating specific aspects of L2 writing but in terms of connecting what we do to broader intellectual strands, domains, and dimensions of modern thought and contemporary lived experience. Whatever one may think of the results, certainly discussions of L1 English rhetoric and composition exhibit a more wide-ranging outreach to other intellectual domains, such as cultural studies, post-modernism, and critical theory. Even certain other sister disciplines of TESOL, like Applied Linguistics (for example, in the subareas of Critical Language Awareness, Critical Applied Linguistics, and the New Literacy studies), seem to do so to a greater degree. L2 writing research seems at times oddly insular, not even referencing work in second language acquisition much, not to mention other contemporary thinking that might help both to clarify and complexify our project. Are we in L2 writing missing out, being by-passed by the most interesting intellectual trends of our times when we focus perhaps somewhat single-mindedly on such functional and practical issues as peer response, rhetorical strategies, and such? Certainly our work is, as Terry Santos (2001) has noted, deeply and often beneficially grounded in the practical. Nevertheless, we might do more to explore wider dimensions and broader theoretical issues and claims in the context of L2 English writing.

Volume 12, Number 2 (2003)

Written textual production and consumption (WTPC) in vernacular and English-medium settings in Gujarat, India (pp. 125-150)

University of California, Davis, USA

This paper attempts a relatively comprehensive sketch of some of the key facets in the larger socioeducational machinery that shapes the written textual production and consumption (WTPC) of "English-medium" (EM) and "vernacular-medium" (VM) students in Gujarat, India. It lays out some ways in which particular macro-structures align together to produce and shape conditions that privilege the WTPC of EM students over their VM counterparts. The paper also addresses some small ways in which institutions and individual faculty work are mitigating the gulf between students socialized in the different mediums of instruction by working indirectly on their WTPC.

Changing currents in second language writing research: A colloquium (pp. 151-179)

University of New Hampshire, USA
Baruch College, City University of New York, USA
University of Georgia, USA
City University of Hong Kong, China
University of California, Irvine, USA

This article is based on an invited colloquium on second language (L2) writing presented at the 2002 meeting of the American Association for Applied Linguistics. The colloquium featured five L2 writing researchers who discussed some of the important currents that have, over the last decade, shaped the field of second language writing.

Comparing L1 and L2 organizational patterns in the argumentative writing of Japanese EFL students (pp.181-209)

Aichi Prefectural University, Japan

The relationship between first language (L1) and second language (L2) writing has attracted the attention of L2 writing researchers. Recent studies have pointed to not only differences but also similarities between L1 and L2 writing. The present study compared L1 (Japanese) and L2 (English) organizational patterns in the argumentative writing of Japanese EFL student-writers. The study made within-subject comparisons of L1 and L2 compositions in terms of organizational patterns, organization scores, and overall quality. Student perceptions of L1 and L2 organization were also investigated by incorporating their comparisons of their own L1/L2 compositions into the analysis. The results revealed that (a) a majority of students employed deductive type organizational patterns in both L1 and L2; (b) despite similarities between L1 and L2 organizational patterns, L2 organization scores were not significantly correlated with L1 organization scores; (c) L2 composition total and organization scores differed significantly from those of L1; and (d) some students evidenced problems in organizing both L1 and L2 texts. Possible implications of the results are discussed as they pertain to research, pedagogy, and the dispelling of stereotypes about Japanese and English rhetoric.

Volume 12, Number 3 (2003)

Shapers of published NNS research articles (pp. 223-243)

Science Editing and Translation, The Netherlands

En route from its author's screen to the printed page of an English-language science journal, an NNS research article incorporates changes made or suggested by various people. Considering a hypothetical Dutch-authored research article, this paper describes these text shapers. They include language professionals as well as members of the author's discourse community. Their potential to change the text is discussed on the basis of a multidisciplinary review of the literature. The cultural, social, and economic factors influencing their reading and revisions are touched on, as are some implications for research on NNS writing, for revision theory, and for ESP teaching.

Questioning the importance of individualized voice in undergraduate L2 argumentative writing: An empirical study with pedagogical implications (pp. 245-265)

University of Toronto at Scarborough, Canada

Hokkaido University, Japan

This paper contends that the L2 literature yields little empirical evidence of a relationship between the features associated with L1 voice and the quality of L2 academic writing. In fact, some of these features may be of little consequence in certain L2 writing contexts. Writing samples requiring learners to argue in favor of or against an aspect of Canada's immigration policy were elicited from 63 students in a writing-intensive first-year course. These samples were scored by (1) three raters for "voice," using a special Voice Intensity Rating Scale with four components (assertiveness; self-identification; reiteration of central point; and authorial presence and autonomy of thought), created especially for this study, as well as (2) three raters for overall writing quality, using Jacobs et al.'s (1981) ESL Composition Profile. Interrater reliability, based on the Spearman–Brown Prophesy Formula, was found to be 0.84 for the ratings of voice intensity and 0.73 for the ratings of overall quality. Most importantly, no significant correlation was found either between overall quality and overall voice intensity or between overall quality and any of the four components of voice. The results suggest that there may not be a connection between the linguistic and rhetorical devices commonly associated with individualized voice (e.g., first person singular or intensifiers) and the quality of writing, at least within some genres and at some levels of writing proficiency.

The efficacy of various kinds of error feedback for improvement in the accuracy and fluency of L2 student writing (pp. 267-296)

New England Conservatory of Music and Simmons College, USA

This research uses experimental and control group data to show that students' correction of grammatical and lexical error between assignments reduces such error in subsequent writing over one semester without reducing fluency or quality. A second study further examines how error correction should be done. Should a teacher correct errors or mark errors for student self-correction? If the latter, should the teacher indicate location or type of error or both? Measures include change in the accuracy of both revisions and of subsequent writing, change in fluency, change in holistic ratings, student attitudes toward the four different kinds of teacher response, and time required by student and teacher for each kind of response. Findings are that both direct correction and simple underlining of errors are significantly superior to describing the type of error, even with underlining, for reducing long-term error. Direct correction is best for producing accurate revisions, and students prefer it because it is the fastest and easiest way for them as well as the fastest way for teachers over several drafts. However, students feel that they learn more from self-correction, and simple underlining of errors takes less teacher time on the first draft. Both are viable methods depending on other goals.

Volume 12, Number 4 (2003)

Academic writing: A European perspective (pp. 313-316)

San Diego State University, USA

In June 2003 about 200 faculty, graduate students, and administrators attended the Second Joint Biennial Conference of the European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing (EATAW) and the European Writing Centers Association (EWCA), held in Budapest and hosted by the Central European University. Because this is an important conference, and a new field of interest for Europe, I have prepared this report and commentary so that the JSLW readership can benefit from this experience--and perhaps become involved in the European discussions.

Good and original: Plagiarism and patchwriting in academic second-language writing (pp. 317-345)

Stockholm University, Sweden

Plagiarism is regarded as a heinous crime within the academic community, but anecdotal evidence suggests that some writers plagiarize without intending to transgress academic conventions. This article reports a study of the writing of 17 postgraduate students. Source reports in the student-generated texts were compared to the original sources in order to describe the relationship between the two. Interviews were also conducted with the student writers and their supervisors. The student writing was found to contain textual features which could be described as plagiarism, but the writers' accounts of their work and the textual analysis strongly suggest absence of intention to plagiarize, thus providing empirical verification of similar suggestions in the literature. Implications of these findings are discussed and include a recommendation that the focus on preventing plagiarism be shifted from post facto punishment to proactive teaching.

Switching to first language among writers with differing second-language proficiency (pp. 347-375)

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada

Switching interactively between first (L1) and second (L2) languages has been recognized as one of the salient characteristics of L2 writing. However, it is not clear how switching between languages is related to L2 proficiency nor how switching to the L1 assists writers with differing L2 proficiency in their composing processes. The present study investigated these issues with eight adult Chinese-speaking English as a Second Language (ESL) learners with two differing levels of proficiency in English performing two writing tasks: an informal personal letter and an argument essay. Data were the students' think-aloud protocols, retrospective interviews, questionnaires, and written compositions. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of these data show that the participants' frequencies of language-switching varied slightly by their L2 proficiency, suggesting that L2 proficiency might determine writers' approaches and qualities of thinking while composing in their L2.

Exploring multiple profiles of highly rated learner compositions (pp. 377-403)

Ohio University, USA
Central Michigan University, USA
California State University, Sacramento, CA, USA

Recent research has come a long way in describing the linguistic features of large samples of written texts, although a satisfactory description of L2 writing remains problematic. Even when variables such as proficiency, language background, topic, and audience have been controlled, straightforward predictive relationships between linguistic variables and quality ratings have remained elusive, and perhaps they always will. We propose a different approach. Rather than assuming a linear relationship between linguistic features and quality ratings, we explore multiple profiles of highly rated timed compositions and describe how they compare in terms of their lexical, grammatical, and discourse features. To this end, we performed a cluster analysis on two sets of timed compositions to examine their patterns of use of several linguistic features. The purpose of the analysis was to investigate whether multiple profiles (or clusters) would emerge among the highly rated compositions in each data set. This did indeed occur. Within each data set, the profiles of highly rated texts differed significantly. Some profiles exhibited above-average levels for several linguistic features, whereas others showed below-average levels. We interpret the results as confirming that highly rated texts are not at all isometric, even though there do appear to be some identifiable constraints on the ways in which highly rated timed compositions may vary.


Volume 13, Number 1 (2004)

Special Issue: Conceptualizing Discourse/Responding to Text
Guest Editors: Diane Belcher and Jun Liu

Conceptualizing discourse/responding to text (pp. 3-6)

Georgia State University, USA
University of Arizona, USA

Anyone who has taught second language writing will probably find themselves nodding in agreement with Christine Casanave’s (2004) recent assertion that "perhaps the most consuming of all dilemmas for L2 writing teachers is how to best help their students improve their writing" (p. 64). Casanave elaborates on this observation by noting that this dilemma is two-pronged, as we not only need to decide what we mean by improvement but which of the many varied and often conflicting approaches to teaching writing will actually be "paths to improvement" (p. 63). All four articles in this special issue address various aspects of this dilemma. The first two articles, by Ryuko Kubota and Al Lehner and by Wei Zhu, consider the big-picture issue of how "good writing" has been and is currently conceptualized by those of us in the TESOL profession and others—across cultures (Kubota & Lehner, this issue) and across disciplines (Zhu, this issue). The articles by Dana Ferris and Lynn Goldstein, on the other hand, address the more immediately practical but no less challenging issue of the role that teacher response to student writing plays in actual improvement of writing and writers at both the micro (Ferris, this issue) and macro (Goldstein, this issue) levels, plays in actual improvement of writing and writers. As Ann Johns points out in her response to all four articles, our field has been seeking answers to these two vexing questions, i.e., how we should conceptualize discourse and respond to text, for the past 40 years with little resulting consensus. The contributors to this issue attempt to survey the progress we have made so far and to push our thinking forward.

Toward Critical Contrastive Rhetoric (pp. 7-27)

University of North Carolina at Chapell Hill, USA

A traditional approach to contrastive rhetoric has emphasized cultural difference in rhetorical patterns among various languages. Despite its laudable pedagogical intentions to raise teachers’ and students’ cultural and rhetorical awareness in second language writing, traditional contrastive rhetoric has perpetuated static binaries between English and other languages and viewed students as culturally lacking. Various criticisms that have challenged assumptions behind traditional contrastive rhetoric as well as a critical scrutiny of pedagogical issues, including the politics of explicit teaching of linguistic forms, indicate a need for establishing alternative conceptual frameworks. Such frameworks seek to critically understand politics of cultural difference and explore situated pedagogy that challenges essentialism. By incorporating poststructuralist, postcolonial, and postmodern critiques of language and culture, critical contrastive rhetoric reconceptualizes cultural difference in rhetoric from such perspectives as relations of power, discursive construction of knowledge, colonial construction of cultural dichotomies, and rhetorical plurality brought about by diaspora and cultural hybridity. When put into practice, critical contrastive rhetoric affirms multiplicity of languages, rhetorical forms, and students’ identities, while problematizing the discursive construction of rhetoric and identities, and thus allowing writing teachers to recognize the complex web of rhetoric, culture, power, and discourse in responding to student writing.

Faculty views on the importance of writing, the nature of academic writing, and
teaching and responding to writing in the disciplines
(pp. 29-48)

University of South Florida, USA

This study examined faculty views on academic writing and writing instruction. Data reported in this article came from ten qualitative interviews with business and engineering faculty members. Transcripts of the interviews were analyzed inductively and recursively, and two views on academic writing and writing instruction were identified. One view held that academic writing largely involved transferring general writing skills, and writing instruction would be most effectively provided by writing/language teachers. The other view recognized the unique thought and communication processes entailed in academic writing and the role of both content course faculty and writing instructors in academic writing instruction. However, content course faculty and writing instructors each assumed a different set of responsibilities. Implications of the findings for academic writing research and instruction are discussed.

The "grammar correction" debate in L2 writing: Where are we, and where do we go from here?
(and what do we do in the meantime ...?)
(pp. 49-62)

California State University Sacramento, USA

The efficacy of teacher error/grammar correction in second language writing classes has been the subject of much controversy, including a published debate in an earlier volume of this journal [J. Second Language Writing 8 (1999) 1; J. Second Language Writing 8 (1999) 111]. In this paper, the state-of-the-art in error correction research in L2 writing is described ("Where are we?"), directions for future research are outlined ("Where do we go from here?") and implications for current L2 composition pedagogy are suggested ("What do we do in the meantime?"). The primary thesis of the paper is that, despite the published debate and several decades of research activity in this area, we are virtually at Square One, as the existing research base is incomplete and inconsistent, and it would certainly be premature to formulate any conclusions about this topic. Thus, findings from previous research on this controversial yet ubiquitous pedagogical issue are recast as "predictions" about what future research might discover, rather than "conclusions" about what the previous research shows us.

Questions and answers about teacher written commentary and student revision:
Teachers and students working together
(pp. 63-80)

The Monterey Institute of International Studies, USA

Teachers and students agree that despite the time-consuming nature of providing written commentary and revising using this commentary, teacher feedback is both desirable and helpful. Nonetheless, teachers express concerns about how to provide commentary in ways that their students can effectively use to revise their texts and to learn for future texts. This paper addresses these concerns by helping teachers identify the issues to which they need to attend and by sharing effective practices they can use in providing written commentary to rhetorical and content issues in their students’ writing. The paper first addresses the role of the context within which commentary and revision take place, delineating the issues that teachers need to be aware of and the questions they can ask about context to help guide decisions about commentary. The paper next addresses the process of communication between teachers and students, describing ways of providing such communication that will enhance the effectiveness of the teacher’s commentary and the students’ revisions. The final sections discuss the shape of teacher commentary, with recommendations for what factors teachers can consider in deciding what to comment on as well as recommendations for the forms that effective commentary take.

Searching for answers: A response (pp. 81-85)

San Diego State University, USA

This special issue of JSLW addresses questions for which the profession has yet to find adequate answers, issues that have complicated the research and teaching of literacies to linguistically and culturally diverse students for more than 40 years. What began in the 1960s as fairly simple answers to questions about error, teacher response, and linguistic and cultural variation, initially offered by a few publications such as Robert Bander’s American English Rhetoric (1971) and Kaplan’s (1966) "doodles" article, have mushroomed into a rich literature that asks, among other things, whether one can generalize about a language (Zhu, this issue); whether teachers should be empowering students to resist cultural, linguistic, and discursive hegemonies (Kubota and Lehner, this issue); whether, and how, errors should be addressed in second language composition classes (Ferris, this issue); and what factors should motivate teacher and student responses to texts in these classes (Goldstein, this issue).

Volume 13, Number 2 (2004)

"The Choice Made from No Choice": English Writing Instruction in a Chinese University (pp. 97-110)

Purdue University, USA

Approaches to writing instruction developed in North America have gradually made their presence felt in other parts of the world during recent years. A curricular evaluation of the local needs, instruction, assessments, teacher preparation, and other pedagogical factors is crucial for the successful transmission and integration of those approaches into the new contexts. Set against the background of recent, exuberant scholarly discussions of the issue of transplanting Western writing pedagogies, this article presents an observational report of a typical college English curriculum for non-majors in China, with a focus on its writing component. The study has found that English writing is taught under the guidance of a nationally unified syllabus and examination system. Rather than assisting their students to develop thoughts in writing, teachers in this system are predominantly concerned about the teaching of correct form and test-taking skills. Because of their relatively low economic status in China, English teachers have to work extra hours and have little time to spend on individual students or on furthering their professional training. However, signs of recent Western writing pedagogies, such as pre-writing and multiple-drafting activities, are identified in classrooms and textbook publishing, which indicate the possibility of successful adaptations of the recent Western writing pedagogies in the Chinese context.

ESL Literacy: Language Practice or Social Practice? (pp. 111-132)

Carleton University, Canada

This paper examines literacy policy and practice in six Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) classrooms. The study focused on three questions: (1) What literacy practices did these newcomers participate in their new country? (2) How did their teachers understand the role of writing in their learners’ lives? (3) What and why did their learners write in their LINC classes? Our results indicate that while the LINC learners had a broad and varied understanding of the role of writing in their lives, both they and their teachers viewed writing in LINC classes as a vehicle for the development of linguistic accuracy rather than as a socially situated practice.

Disciplinary Interactions: Metadiscourse in L2 Postgraduate Writing (pp. 133-151)

University of London

Metadiscourse is self-reflective linguistic expressions referring to the evolving text, to the writer, and to the imagined readers of that text. It is based on a view of writing as a social engagement and, in academic contexts, reveals the ways writers project themselves into their discourse to signal their attitudes and commitments. In this paper, I explore how advanced second language writers deploy these resources in a high stakes research genre. The paper examines the purposes and distributions of metadiscourse in a corpus of 240 doctoral and masters dissertations totalling four million words written by Hong Kong students. The paper proposes a model of metadiscourse as the interpersonal resources required to present propositional material appropriately in different disciplinary and genre contexts. The analysis suggests how academic writers use language to offer a credible representation of themselves and their work in different fields, and thus how metadiscourse can be seen as a means of uncovering something of the rhetorical and social distinctiveness of disciplinary communities.

Volume 13, Number 3 (2004)

The Writing Center and Second Language Writers (pp. 165-172)

University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
University of Iowa, USA

In this introduction to the special issue on the writing center and second language writers, the special issue editors provide a review of research that investigate second-language writing issues in the writing center, and discuss future research directions.

Tutoring and Revision: Second Language Writers in the Writing Center (pp. 173-201)

University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

There is little research to link what happens during writing center (WC) sessions to how student writers revise their subsequent drafts. This gap in the literature is particularly evident concerning second language (L2) writers who come to the WC for assistance. This study is an effort to fill this gap, exploring the connection between WC interaction and revision by L2 writers. Findings suggest a clear connection between the two, especially as regards small-scale revision of sentence-level problems. They also point to the higher level of uptake of all tutor advice when suggestions are direct, when learners actively participate in the conversation, and when they write down their plans during the session. Also effective in stimulating revision are scaffolding moves by the tutor, including marking of critical features in the text, simplification of the task, goal-orientation, and modeling. In spite of the considerable revision done by all of the writers in this study, second drafts did not receive consistently higher holistic evaluations.

Novice Tutors and Their ESL Tutees: Three Case Studies of Tutor Roles and Perceptions of Tutorial Success (pp. 203-225)

Georgia State University, USA

This article presents case studies of three tutor/tutee dyads, focusing on the negotiation of tutor roles over a semester as part of a course requirement for MATESOL candidates. Tutors were enrolled in the course "Issues in Second Language Writing," and tutees were ESL student volunteers. Data came from on-line discussions from the course, videotapes of tutoring sessions, tutors’ and tutees’ retrospective interviews, and the tutors’ final reflective papers for the course. Results indicate that the dyads negotiated relationships that differed from each other but were viewed as successful by those involved. For each dyad, different factors emerged as influential in negotiating the tutor’s role, including tutors’ and tutees’ beliefs about writing, tutees’ language proficiency, affective factors, and aspects of the tutorial setting.

What Are the Differences? Tutor Interactions with First- and Second-Language Writers (pp. 227-242)

California State University, Fresno, USA

This paper reports on a decade of research into the nature of interactions between writing center tutors and native speaker (NS) and non-native speaker (NNS) tutees. It explores and describes the structure of this interaction and the behaviors of NNS tutees, and of tutors when interacting with both NS and NNS tutees. It characterizes writing center tutorials with NNSs as a balancing act among potentially conflicting forces. Finally, it suggests applications of these insights to tutor preparation and practice.

Volume 13, Number 4 (2004)

ESL Student Attitudes Toward Corpus Use in L2 Writing (pp. 257-283)

The Ohio State University, USA

In recent years, there has been growing interest in the use of corpora in L2 writing instruction. Many studies have argued for corpus use from a teacher’s perspective, that is, in terms of how teachers can develop instructional materials and activities involving a corpus-based orientation. In contrast, relatively little attention has been paid to investigations of learners’ actual use of corpora and their attitudes toward such use in the L2 writing classroom. This paper describes a study of corpus use in two ESL academic writing courses. Specifically, the study examined students’ corpus use behavior and their perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of corpora as a second language writing tool. The study’s qualitative and quantitative data indicate that, overall, the students perceived the corpus approach as beneficial to the development of L2 writing skill and increased confidence toward L2 writing.

Error Correction in L2 Secondary Writing Classrooms: The Case of Hong Kong (pp. 285-312).

Hong Kong Baptist University, China

Error correction research has focused mostly on whether teachers should correct errors in student writing and how they should go about it. Much less has been done to ascertain L2 writing teachers’ perceptions and practices as well as students’ beliefs and attitudes regarding error feedback. The present investigation seeks to explore the existing error correction practices in the Hong Kong secondary writing classroom from both the teacher and student perspectives. Data were gathered from three main sources: (1) a teacher survey comprising a questionnaire and follow-up interviews, (2) a teacher error correction task, and (3) a student survey made up of a questionnaire and follow-up interviews. The results revealed that both teachers and students preferred comprehensive error feedback, the teachers used a limited range of error feedback strategies, and only about half of the teacher corrections of student errors were accurate. The study also showed that the students were reliant on teachers in error correction, and that the teachers were not much aware of the long-term significance of error feedback. Possible implications pertaining to ways to improve current error correction practices were discussed.

A Measure of Second Language Writing Aanxiety: Scale Development and Preliminary Validation (pp. 313-335)

National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan

Evidence has been accumulating that shows the promise of multidimensional conceptualizations of anxiety in investigating the effects of anxiety on different aspects of human behavior and intellectual performance. In view of the lack of an L2 writing anxiety scale explicitly developed from a multidimensional perspective, this study aims to develop and evaluate a self-report L2 writing anxiety measure that conforms to a three-dimensional conceptualization of anxiety. Sixty-five EFL learners’ reports of L2 writing anxiety were drawn upon to generate an initial pool of scale items. A pilot test was conducted on the initial pool of items to help establish a preliminary version of L2 writing anxiety scale for further refinement and evaluation in the formal study. A sample of 421 EFL majors enrolled in seven different colleges in Taiwan participated in the formal study. Exploratory factor analysis was employed to determine the final make-up of the Second Language Writing Anxiety Inventory (SLWAI) that consists of three subscales: Somatic Anxiety, Cognitive Anxiety, and Avoidance Behavior. In addition to reliability coefficients, the validity of the SLWAI total scale and subscales was assessed by means of correlation and factor analysis. The results suggest that both the total scale and the individual subscales of the SLWAI have good reliability and adequate validity.

Volume 14, Number 1 (2005)

Rhetorical education through writing instruction across cultures: A comparative analysis of select online instructional materials on argumentative writing (pp. 1-18)

Purdue University, USA

Recent studies on Chinese–English contrastive rhetoric have argued that there is actually little to contrast and the traditional qi (beginning), cheng (transition), zhuan (turning), he (synthesis) structure has little influence on contemporary Chinese writing. A comparative analysis of select online instructional materials on argumentative writing for American and Mainland Chinese school writers reveals that although the two groups agree on the purpose, tripartite structure, and the use of formal logic, they differ in the discussion of some fundamentals for argumentative writing. Specifically, the American group considers anticipating the opposition a must while the Chinese group demonstrates epistemological and dialogical emphases and highlights the need to use analogies. The importance of analogies and epistemological and dialogical emphases can be traced to ancient Chinese rhetorical theories. This paper argues that the findings may help us to understand the assumptions and beliefs that underlie rhetorical conventions or textual features. Further comparative research on Mainland Chinese and American pedagogical materials on argumentative writing is suggested.

Linguistic correlates of second language literacy development: Evidence from middle-grade learner essays (pp. 19-45)

University of Houston, USA

This paper compares the development of linguistic fluency in the writing of 5th–8th grade, U.S. students enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL, n = 189) and regular language arts (RLA, n = 546) classes. Linguistic fluency is defined as the use of linguistic structures appropriate to rhetorical and social purposes and is measured using five sets of features shown by Reppen (1994, 2001) [Reppen, R. (1994). Variation in elementary student language: A multi-dimensional perspective. Doctoral dissertation, Northern Arizona University.] [Reppen, R. (2001). Register variation in student and adult speech and writing. In S. Conrad & D. Biber (Eds.), Variation in English: Multi-dimensional studies (pp. 187–199). Harlow, UK: Longman.] to vary in relation to age and topic differences in a large corpus of texts produced by and for 5th grade English L1 writers. The same broad variational patterns found by Reppen in her corpus are shown to exist in the writing of the ESL and RLA students; however, more careful analysis of the individual features associated with each set indicates that the RLA students hold stronger associations between the features and the rhetorical and social functions identified for the set as a whole. It is suggested that the ESL students’ lack of fluency results from both limitations in grammatical competency and a lack of practice in writing for varying purposes and audiences.

Editing contributed scholarly articles from a language management perspective (pp. 47-62)

University of Southern California, USA

The University of Queensland, Australia

Taking language management as its initial perspective, this paper examines some of the sorts of linguistic problems that second language writers of English face when contributing to scholarly journals and some of the issues that editors face when working with authors on those problems. Language Management Theory (hereafter LMT) is briefly explained. Drawing on a substantial corpus (slightly less than 500,000 words), illustrations of various categories of problem types are provided. One finding shows that it is difficult, in practice, to differentiate between simple language management issues and organized language management issues, because what may appear to be simple management issues may in fact have extended implications. Some problem types are not unique to non-native speakers, but appear with different frequency and distribution in non-native speaker texts as compared with native-speaker texts. Some ethical questions implicit in editing non-native speaker texts are explored.


On Second Language Writing