Journal of Second Language Writing


Volume 8 (1999)
[ No. 1 | No. 2 | No. 3 ]

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 8, Number 1 (1999)

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

California State University, Sacramento

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

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
Monterey Institute of International Studies

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

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

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

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

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

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.


On Second Language Writing