Journal of Second Language Writing


Volume 12 (2003)
[ No. 1 | No. 2 | No. 3 | No. 4 ]

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Table of Contents
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The JSLW Award
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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

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.



Symposium on Second Language Writing