Journal of Second Language Writing


Volume 13 (2004)
[ No. 1 | No. 2 | No. 3 | No. 4 ]

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 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.


Symposium on Second Language Writing