L2 writing is an international, transdisciplinary field of
study whose members are active in a variety of organizations, including
the U.S.-based Conference on College Composition and Communication
(CCCC). Over the last few decades, members of the L2 writing community
have worked to increase awareness of L2 writers at CCCC with the
creation of the “CCCC
Statement on Second Language Writing and Writers” (2001) as well as with a standing committee and
interest section. Many members of the SLWIS at TESOL are also active at
In recent years, interest in language diversity and
internationalization among CCCC members has exploded, with the creation
of a Transnational SIG at the conference and pieces like “Opinion:
Language Difference in Writing: Toward a Translingual Approach” (Horner,
Lu, Royster, & Trimbur, 2011) in flagship composition journals
such as College English. As scholars traditionally
involved in both communities, we have welcomed an increased interest in
language diversity, something we have been working toward for decades.
However, we are concerned about the tendency to conflate L2
writing and translingual writing, and with the even more disturbing
trend to view translingual writing as a replacement for L2 writing. For
example, we are concerned about the confusion and degrees of uncertainty
resulting from a proliferation of such terms as: translingual
writing, translingual writers, and code-meshing. There are also concerns about how this
conflation may impact hiring practices for L2 writing specialists at
postsecondary institutions and the comments of editorial boards for
articles under review. We acknowledge that this trend has been largely
confined within the discussion of U.S. college composition, so many who
work in other contexts may be less familiar with the controversy.
In order to help mitigate this increasing confusion in certain
academic circles, publications, and institutions, we recently drafted a
letter articulating the differences between L2 writing and
translingualism, noting that “translingual writing is a particular
orientation to how language is conceptualized and implicated in the
study and teaching of writing. It emphasizes the fluidity, malleability
and discriminatory potential of languages” but that it “has not widely
taken up the task of helping L2 writers increase their proficiency in
what might still be emerging L2s and develop and use their multiple
language resources to serve their own purposes” (Atkinson et al., in
press). We also noted some of our concerns, and during the process, we
circulated the letter among a variety of scholars for feedback and
support. After finalizing the letter in early September 2014, we began
distributing it among editors, organizations, and doctoral program
leaders in writing studies in order to raise awareness of this issue.
Please look forward to a published version in the March 2015 issue of College English.
Atkinson, D. Crusan, D., Matsuda, P. K., Ortmeier-Hooper, C.,
Ruecker, T., Simpson, S. & Tardy, C. (in press). Clarifying the
relationship between L2 writing and translingual writing: An open letter
to writing studies editors and organization leaders. College
Conference on College Composition and Communication. (2001).
CCCC statement on second language writing and writers (revised 2009).
Horner, B., Lu, M. Z., Royster, J. J., & Trimbur J.
(2011) Opinion: Language difference in writing: Toward a translingual
approach. College English, 73(3), 303–321.
Author affiliations and emails: Todd
Ruecker, University of New Mexico,
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA; Christina
Ortmeier-Hooper, University of New
Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, USA; Deborah
Crusan, Wright State University, Dayton,
Ohio, USA; Christine
Tardy, University of Arizona, Tucson,
Arizona, USA; Paul Kei
Matsuda, Arizona State University, Tempe,
Arizona, USA; Dwight
Atkinson, University of Arizona, Tucson,
Arizona, USA; Steve
Simpson, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, New