CCCC Statement on
Second-Language Writing and Writers
PART ONE: GENERAL
The Conference on College
Composition and Communication (CCCC) recognizes the presence
of a growing number of second-language writers in
institutions of higher education across North America. As a
result of colleges and universities actively seeking to
increase the diversity of the student population,
second-language writers have become an integral part of
higher education, including writing programs.
Second-language writers are
found in writing programs at all levels--from basic writing
and first-year composition to professional writing and
writing across the curriculum--as well as in writing
centers. Although providing additional linguistic support in
the forms of intensive language programs and special
second-language sections of writing courses may be helpful
they will not remove the responsibility of writing teachers,
researchers, and administrators to address second-language
issues because the acquisition of a second language and
second-language literacy is a time-consuming process that
will continue through students' academic career and beyond.
include international visa students, refugees, and permanent
residents as well as naturalized and native-born citizens of
the United States and Canada. Many of them have grown up
speaking languages other than English at home, in their
communities, and in schools; others began to acquire English
at a very young age and have used it alongside their native
language. To many, English may be the third, fourth or fifth
language. Many second-language writers are highly literate
in their first language, while others have never learned to
write in their mother tongue. Some are even native speakers
of languages without a written form.
have come from a wide variety of linguistic, cultural, and
educational backgrounds--may have special needs because the
nature and functions of discourse, audience, and persuasive
appeals often differ across linguistic, cultural and
educational contexts. Furthermore, most second-language
writers are still in the process of acquiring syntactic and
lexical competence--a process that will take a lifetime.
These differences are often a matter of degree, and not all
second-language writers face the same set of difficulties.
While some native speakers of English may face similar
difficulties, those experienced by second-language writers
are often more intense.
For these reasons, we urge
writing teachers and writing program administrators to
recognize the regular presence of second-language writers in
writing classes, to understand their characteristics, and to
develop instructional and administrative practices that are
sensitive to their linguistic and cultural needs. We also
urge graduate programs in writing-related fields to offer
courses in second-language writing theory, research, and
instruction in order to prepare writing teachers and
scholars for working with a college student population that
is increasingly diverse both linguistically and culturally.
We also stress the need for
further investigations into issues surrounding
second-language writing and writers in the context of
writing programs. Since those issues permeate all aspects of
writing theory, research, and instruction--from textual
features and composing processes to collaborative strategies
and writing assessment, we encourage scholars and
researchers of writing to include second-language
perspectives in developing theories, designing studies,
analyzing data, and discussing implications.
PART TWO: GUIDELINES FOR
Decisions regarding the placement of second-language
writers into writing courses should be based on students'
writing proficiency rather than their race, native-language
background, nationality, or immigration status. Nor should
the decisions be based solely on the scores from
standardized tests of general language proficiency or of
spoken language proficiency. Instead, scores from the direct
assessment of students' writing proficiency should be used,
and multiple writing samples should be consulted whenever
possible. Writing programs should work toward making a wide
variety of placement options available--including
mainstreaming, basic writing, and second-language writing as
well as courses that systematically integrate native and
nonnative speakers of English. Furthermore, writing programs
should inform students of the advantages and disadvantages
of each placement option so that students can make informed
Writing prompts for placement and exit exams should
avoid cultural references that are not readily understood by
people who come from various cultural backgrounds. To reduce
the risk of evaluating students on the basis of their
cultural knowledge rather than their writing proficiency,
students should be given several writing prompts to choose
from when appropriate. The scoring of second-language texts
should take into consideration various aspects of writing
(e.g., topic development, organization, grammar, word
choice), rather than focus only on one or two of these
features that stand out as problematic.
Since working with second-language writers often
requires additional feedback and conference time with the
instructor, enrollments in mainstream writing classes with a
substantial number of second-language writers should be
reduced; in classes made up exclusively of second-language
writers, enrollments should be limited to a maximum of 15
students per class.
Second-language sections of composition courses should
be offered for credit that can be used toward satisfying the
writing requirement. Second-language writing courses
prerequisite to required composition courses should be
offered for credit that can be used toward satisfying the
foreign-language requirement and should receive the same
credit accorded other prerequisite composition courses.
Any writing course--including basic writing, first-year
composition, advanced writing, and professional writing as
well as second-language writing courses--that enrolls any
second-language writers should be taught by a writing
teacher who is able to identify and is prepared to address
the linguistic and cultural needs of second-language
Writing programs should offer pre-service and in-service
teacher preparation programs in teaching second-language
writing. Writing programs should also provide resources for
writing teachers, including textbooks and readers on the
teaching of second-language writing as well as reference
materials such as dictionaries and grammar handbooks for
language learners. Moreover, writing programs should
encourage--and offer incentives for--writing teachers to
attend workshops on teaching second-language writers that
are presented at professional conferences such as CCCC and
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).
PART THREE: SELECTED
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Writing in a Second Language: Essays on Research and
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Braine, George. "Starting ESL Classes in Freshman Writing
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Fox, Helen. Listening to the World: Cultural Issues in
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Hamp-Lyons, Liz, ed. Assessing Second Language Writing
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Kroll, Barbara. "The
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Leki, Ilona, and Tony Silva,
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ESL: Give Credit Where Credit Is Due." College ESL
2.1 (1992): 20–22.
Matsuda, Paul Kei.
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-----. Second Language
Writing Research Network Forum. Dept. of English,
Purdue University. <http://sslw.asu.edu/>.
-----, and Tony Silva.
"Cross-Cultural Composition: Mediated Integration of US and
International Students." Composition Studies 27.1
Severino, Carol, Juan C.
Guerra, and Johnnella E. Butler, ed. Writing in
Multicultural Settings. New York: MLA, 1997.
Silva, Tony. "Toward an
Understanding of the Distinct Nature of L2 Writing: The ESL
Research and Its Implications." TESOL Quarterly 27.4
-----, ed. Landmark Essays
on ESL Writing. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2001.
Tannacito, Dan J. A Guide
to Writing in English as a Second or Foreign Language: An
Annotated Bibliography. Alexandria, VA: TESOL, 1995.
Tucker, Amy. Decoding
ESL: International Students in the American College
Classroom. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann-Boynton/Cook, 1995.
"Bilingual Minorities and Language Issues in Writing."
Written Communication 9 (1992): 85–136.
Committee of the CCCC approved the Statement on
Second-Language Writing and Writers in November
2000. The statement was also endorsed by the
TESOL Board of Directors at their February
the CCCC Committee on Second Language Writing are: Paul
Kei Matsuda, Chair; Akua Duku Anokye; Christine Pearson
Casanave; Helen Fox; Tony Silva; Guadalupe Valdés; and
Information: CCCC Statement on Second-Language
Writing and Writers. (2001). College Composition
and Communication, 52(4), 669-674.