March 2023
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Jimalee Sowell, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA, USA

International students are beneficial to US campuses. They bring diversity, which is important in today’s world where the ability to communicate across cultures is an important skill. Furthermore, because international students typically pay full tuition, US universities have an invested interest in continuing to recruit them. This presents an ethical dilemma, however. International students are an important financial resource for many universities. The question is whether international students are receiving the support they need to succeed academically. Since writing is an inextricable part of higher education in US contexts, this question is especially relevant to writing programs: Are international students getting the sort of writing help and support they need to be successful academically? How are US writing programs working to understand and meet international students’ needs? This edited collection is an attempt to respond to these questions, largely through illustrations of work that has been accomplished in terms of writing program development, curricular development, and faculty development.

The main theme throughout this book is the lack of experience, training, expertise, and confidence instructors at US colleges and universities have in working with international students to provide adequate writing instruction and support. While composition instructors in US higher education institutions might have many international students in their classes, they may not have any training in L2 writing pedagogy, and some teachers of composition do not have training in teaching composition. Furthermore, instructors in the disciplines might also have many international students in their classes but might be unfamiliar with L2 writing pedagogy. For instance, in her chapter called “Writing Programs and a New Ethos for Globalization,” Margaret Willard-Traub explains that in her university’s writing program, 85 percent of classes are taught by adjunct faculty with degrees in subjects outside the field of composition and rhetoric, and only one instructor has training in L2 writing. While it might be ideal to hire more teachers trained in L2 writing instruction, for most institutions, a significant recruitment of instructors with specialized training in L2 writing would be difficult or even impossible. Filling the gap, then, means finding the best way to move forward given current circumstances. Throughout this book, the authors outline the various solutions or strategies they have implemented personally or that have been implemented institutionally to provide appropriate pedagogy and adequate support systems so that international students can successfully meet academic writing needs and requirements.

Some of the best parts of this book, then, are the situated examples the authors provide. For instance, Willard-Traub explains how her US-enrolled students set up an exchange with overseas partners in Lebanon to interview them about their literacy profiles. The interview-exchange project helped the US-enrolled students learn not only about the literacy practices of their partners but also to examine their own literacy practices. In“Building the Infrastructure of L2 Writing Support: The Case of Arizona State University,”Katherine Daily O’Meara and Paul Matsuda explain how they developed various programs at Arizona State University to support instructors, which include a certificate in L2 writing instruction, graduate-level courses for L2 writing instruction and writing research, and a practicum for writing instructors new to teaching L2 sections. In “It’s Not a Course, It’s a Culture,” Stacey Sherriff and Paula Harrington describe the changes they enacted in their current programs by first acknowledging the need to create a shared internationally-focused pedagogy. One important change in their context included implementing a workshop series on L2 writing pedagogy for instructors in various disciplines. In “Expanding the Role of the Writing Center,” Yu-Kyung Kang, explains how she organized single-language writing groups (SLWG) in which students from shared language backgrounds came together in groups to support each other in developing US academic writing skills specifically and English language skills generally. There are numerous other examples throughout the book that serve as useful models that can be adopted and adapted at other colleges or universities, or at the very least, serve as an impetus for sparking ideas that can be contextualized.

The Internationalization of US Writing Programs is an important read for anyone involved in writing programs in US colleges and universities including first-year composition, L2 writing, writing across the curriculum, writing in the disciplines, writing centers, and professional writing programs. Arguably, it is also a valuable read for instructors outside the field of writing education as they could benefit from learning about methods of working with international student writers. While this collection presents a variety of perspectives on writing programs, it is in no way a policy-as-pedagogy prescription. Rather, it is a call for responsiveness to meet the needs of international students in US colleges and universities and establish ethical responses to present challenges. The reader is invited into the conversation to consider new possibilities to improve US writing programs as they continue to internationalize.

Jimalee Sowell is a PhD candidate in Composition and Applied Linguistics at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her research and writing interests include second language writing, genre analysis, peace education, teacher education, and disability studies.
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Sessions at TESOL 2023
From Heteronormativity to Inclusivity in ESL/EFL Higher Education
Featuring James Coda, Liang Cao, Juan Rios Vega, and Evan Kaiser. Wednesday, 22 March, 12:00-13:30 US PST at the Oregon Convention Center in A107/108/109

Spotlight on Refugees in Higher Education
Featuring College Enrollment Experts, Refugee College Graduates, and Refugee Resettlement Workers. Thursday, 23 March, 11:00-12:30 US PST in Deschutes Ballroom C at the Hyatt Regency Portland