October 2017
SLW Newsletter



Dear SLWIS colleagues,

The Second Language Writing Interest Section (SLWIS) continues to be a vibrant home for research and practice into second language (L2) writing concerns. We were well represented at the annual TESOL convention, with a lively academic session (on the myths of the five-paragraph essay) and three substantive InterSections (with Teacher Education, Elementary Education, Materials Writers, and Video/Digital Media ISs) as well as almost 100 other sessions on L2 writing. Representatives of the interest section also participated vigorously in conversations about the future of TESOL’s constituent groups, a process which has continued throughout the spring and summer. Though the final shape of the new “communities of practice” is still under discussion by the TESOL Board of Directors, we are confident that SLWIS will remain an important source of community and information for our members.

One indicator of the strength of our IS is the record number of proposals we received for the 2018 Convention in Chicago: almost 300! Due to the limitations of time and space, our acceptance rate was under 20%. Thank you to everyone who submitted and reviewed proposals. Your contributions are greatly appreciated. In addition, our email list has more than 2,000 members, and I hope you will continue to use it to share ideas, opportunities, and questions about teaching and studying L2 writing. We are also planning webinars so that we can provide and participate in continuous professional learning throughout the year.

I’d like to end by thanking our newsletter coeditors, Ilka Kostka and Elena Shvidko, for all the work that goes into producing this important publication. Ilka has been assiduously editing the newsletter for 2 years, and Elena was recently appointed as coeditor, having previously edited the Graduate Student Spotlights section. If you have an idea for an article for SLW News, please contact the editors. Finally, we are gearing up for SLWIS leadership elections. Please look out for emails with the nomination process and consider joining our team as we look ahead to a new future for SLWIS.

Thank you for supporting this community, and I wish you a successful academic year. Enjoy the newsletter!

Nigel Caplan

2017–2018 Chair, SLWIS


Ilka Kostka

Elena Shvidko

Greetings SLWIS Members,

Welcome to the October 2017 issue of SLW News! This newsletter begins with an important announcement. Elena Shvidko, our SLWIS community manager, has come on board as coeditor of SLW News. Elena has been a critical member of the SLW News editorial staff, conducting interviews with second language (L2) writing experts and interviewing graduate students for our Graduate Student Spotlight section. She has made excellent contributions to the SLWIS, and we are thrilled that she will assume a larger role on the editorial staff. Thank you, Elena!

In this issue, SLWIS Chair Nigel Caplan provides an update on proposal submissions for the TESOL 2018 convention. The issue also features articles on various topics in the area of second language writing. Silva, Yang, Shvidko, and Shin provide a comprehensive review of L2 writing scholarship for 2016; Reichelt and Shucang discuss writing challenges faced by Saudi students at a U.S. university; Randolph describes observation journals as a way to help students develop their observation skills and become more comfortable writing in English; Xue shares personal struggles as a creative writer participating in writing workshops at a university in the United States; and Lee and Yilmaz discuss a flipped classroom approach in elementary English as a second language teacher education, elaborating on how this approach can influence their pedagogical skills for teaching writing to English language learners.

Our regular section, Graduate Student Spotlight, features three graduate students: Hadi Banat from Purdue University; Kelly Cunningham from Iowa State University; and Joseph Wilson from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. We love to hear from our graduate students, so if you are a master’s or doctoral student and would like to contribute to our Graduate Student Spotlight section, please contact Elena Shvidko for more information. Finally, the issue features reviews of two recently published books—Discipline Specific Writing: Theory into Practice (Flowerdew & Costley, 2017) reviewed byTetyana Bychkovska, and Academic Writing Step by Step: A Research-Based Approach (Candlin, Crompton, & Hatim, 2016) reviewed by Steven Thurlow. If you have recently read a book on L2 writing or used an L2 writing textbook in your class, consider reviewing it for SLW News. Contact Steven Bookman for more information about book reviews.

We would like to thank all authors as well as those on the editorial team for their contributions to this issue. We encourage you to share your teaching experience or research findings with our community members through SLW News. Our next issue will be published in March 2018, and the deadline for submissions to this issue is 10 January 2018. For more information, please have a look at the Submission Guidelines in this issue.

We hope you enjoy this issue. Happy reading and all the best in this new academic year!


Ilka and Elena (on behalf of the editorial team)

SLW News Editorial Staff

Gena Bennett
Steven Bookman
Adam Clark
Ming Fang
Helena Hall
Joel Heng Hartse
Kristina Lauer
Peggy Lindsey



Tony Silva

Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN, USA

Kai Yang
Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Elena Shvidko
Utah State University
Logan, Utah, USA

Ji-young Shin
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN, USA

[NOTE: This article has not been copyedited due to its length.]


Even in a relatively small field like second language writing, staying abreast of the current literature can be difficult. Since 2010, the number of publications on second language writing has exceeded 200 per year. 2016—with more than 280 publications—was no exception. To address this situation, we provide an overview of scholarship on second language writing published in 2016.

Data for this review come from a search of databases such as ERIC (Educational Information Resources Center), LLBA (Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts), PQDT (ProQuest Dissertations and Theses), WorldCat (an online database that provides access to the collections of 72,000 libraries in 170 countries), and Amazon.com, as well as a regular perusal of more than 65 journals that, to a greater or lesser extent, typically publish articles on second language writing. The types of publications we address include primarily journal articles, books (authored and edited), book chapters, and dissertations. While we have tried to provide a comprehensive view of the literature, we recognize that there will be some (perhaps many) publications that we have unintentionally omitted. For this, we apologize in advance.

The studies

The scholarship on second language writing discussed in this study was divided into six major categories: Writer, Reader, Context, Instruction, Text Analysis, and Assessment. These six major categories were further divided into subcategories to represent each study’s research focus as accurately as possible.


The first major category of literature focuses on writers. For our purposes, an L2 writer is defined as someone who is writing in a language other than his/her native language(s)/mother tongue(s). In 2016, L2 writers were studied in a wide range of national, regional, and institutional contexts. This category includes a total of 65 publications, which are further divided into six subcategories: writing processes, variables that affect composition and response to feedback, writers’ attitudes and perceptions, writer development and identity, translingual practice, and creative language use.

Writing processes. Writing processes is the largest writer subcategory. The scholarship on writing processes, which consists of 18 publications, investigates a wide range of topics related to the writing processes of L2 writers from diverse linguistic backgrounds. These topics include how L2 writers respond to comments and how they make changes (Christiansen & Bloch); how academics construct L2 authorial identity (Crawford, Mora Pablo, & Lengeling); how writers construct multiple identities through L2 writing (da Rosa; Feng & Du-Babcock); the writing processes of Spanish heritage language learners and Spanish foreign language learners (Elola & Mikulski); how immigrant students use figurative language to describe their language acquisition experiences (Erdmann); how multilingual professionals make language choices in written communication for different purposes; (Fahmee & Yong); rhetorical, cultural, and technological strategies in translation (Gonzales); Iranian students’ dialogic interaction in writing tasks (Kheradmand Saadi); frameworks for analyzing writers’ strategies (Kim); negotiating linguistic identities and constructing ideological commitments to language differences (Lee & Jenks); effective English learning/writing strategies (Lee & Heinz; Lei); how L2 students approach writing assignments in a general education course (Otto); narrative-text-creating strategies when writing in a third language (Pap); how Indonesian students construct meaning in collaborative writing (Rezeki); Chinese EFL students’ intertextual practices in academic writing (Wang a); and how L2 writers navigate and integrate reference resources (Yoon a).

Variables that affect composition and response to feedback. Studies of variables that affect writers’ composing processes and their response to feedback also constitute a large writer subcategory. Thirteen publications addressed a wide range of variables that influence how L2 writers produce texts and respond to feedback. Variables affecting the writing process include: task complexity and pre-task preparation (Abrams & Byrd); (online) collaborative writing or learning (Alghammas; Jiang); task type, L2 proficiency, and keyboard skill (Barkaoui); writer’s gender and writer-reader social distance (Boshrabadi & Sarabi); socialization into reading and writing in a writer’s L1 (Gherwash); L1 early reading skills (Goodrich, Farrington, & Lonigan); L2 proficiency (Gustilo); writer’s reflection (Kelly); and cognitive and motivational individual differences (Mallahi, Amirian, Zareian, & Adel). In addition, variables affecting how L2 writers respond to feedback include writer and reviewer second language proficiency (Allen & Katayama; Allen & Mills; Yu & Lee, c). These three studies investigated how language proficiency influences the type and quantity of feedback L2 writers give and incorporate.

Students’ attitudes and perceptions. Students’ attitudes and perceptions were addressed in 12 publications. Topics investigated in this subcategory include L2 writers’ perceptions of collaborative writing and revision (Alharbi; Hanjani), students’ beliefs about the effectiveness of academic writing training (Cahyono & Amrina), authorial stance in academic research writing (Chang), writers’ expectations and experience with writing lab tutorials (Eckstein), L2 students’ understanding of and attitudes towards academic citation (Hu & Lei; Stockall & Villar Cole), research writing anxiety and self-efficacy (Ho), L2 students’ perception of the impact on L1 writing of English writing training (Ismail), students’ attitudes towards digital story software in the writing class (Oskoz & Elola), students’ attitudes towards the WBLL approach (an online writing platform with access to online reference resources) in writing instruction (Mashhadizadeh & Rezvani), and students’ perceptions of teacher-student conferences (Yeh).

Writer development and identity. Writer development and identity were addressed in 12 publications. Chang & Schleppegrell investigated how L2 writers learn about authorial stance through explicit linguistic resources. Crossley, Kyle, & McNamara investigated the development of 57 L2 university students with regard to global, local, and text cohesion over a semester-long, upper-level EAP course. Cumming, Lai, & Cho synthesized studies on how L2 writers develop their ability to integrate source materials. Grabe & Zhang investigated reading-writing relationships in first and second language academic literacy development. Kosaka reflected on how he develops writing skills through writing journals. Montanari, Simón-Cereijido, & Hartel investigated the development of writing skills of students in grades one through five in an Italian-English two-way immersion program. Ortmeier-Hooper & Ruecker’s edited book focuses on how linguistically diverse immigrants and resident writers transition from high school to college. Soltero-Gonzalez & Butvilofsky investigated the early Spanish and English writing development of bilingual preschoolers. Gonca looked at how L2 writing skills can transfer to L1 writing skills by studying 40 native Turkish-speaking university students. Su & Chou examined cultural transfer in Chinese and English narrative styles from a bi-directional perspective. Bagheri & Riasati identified different writing problems among EFL PhD and master’s students in International English Language Testing System (IELTS) writing. Carter & Aulette provided ten practice tips to overcome barriers in research article publication.

Translingual writing practice. Cavazos investigated how resilient language practices help bilingual Latina/o academics in rhetoric and composition succeed in higher education. Milu looked at how three Kenyan hip-hop artists engaged in translingual communicative practices. Singhasak & Methitham explored how advanced English language learners in Thailand integrate Thainess in their English writing. A special issue of College English was devoted to studies on translingual work in composition. The topics addressed in this special issue include an introduction to translingual work (Lu & Horner), transfer and translingualism (Leonard & Nowacek), close reading and translingualism (Trimbur), and material translingual ecologies (Ray; Jordan).

Creative language use. Azizoglu investigated how doctoral students integrate the poetic function of language in their writing, and Iida studied how a Myanmarese EFL college student wrote haiku (a Japanese three-line poem) in his L2 to describe his study abroad experience.


The second category is the reader. A total of 16 publications focused on readers. Reader here includes instructors who read texts written by L2 writers and students who read their peers’ work. Out of the 16 publications, three subcategories were identified: reader practice, reader belief, and reader development.

Reader practice. Reader practice is the largest reader subcategory, including nine publications. Chandler-Olcott & Nieroda investigated how teachers work in a community with each other to increase their ability to address students’ needs as L2 writers in an urban high school context. Murphy investigated how ESL and writing program faculty at a college partnered with faculty across the curriculum to help international students avoid plagiarism. C. Y. H. Chang (a) examined 13 English majors’ employment of text-based emoticons in web-based peer response. C. Y. H. Chang (b) reviewed two decades of research on L2 peer review to identify reviewers’ perceptions, processes, and products. Finn & Avni studied ten writing instructors to find out how they negotiate classroom practices and institutional language policies. J. W. Lee looked at how writing teachers deal with translingual writing in composition classrooms, with a specific focus on grading practices. Romero investigated how teachers examined the constructions of race, gender, and sexuality in multilingual writing classrooms. Qasim examined teachers’ practices regarding EFL error feedback in a Pakistani university. Tomaš & Mott-Smith gave suggestions to writing teachers about how to cope with time demands and simultaneously maximize students’ learning.

Reader belief. In this subcategory, Cahyono & Mutiaraningrum revealed Indonesian EFL teachers’ experiences with and opinions about Internet-based techniques for writing instruction. Collazo reflected the personal experience of a writing center tutor working with English language learners. Kibler, Heny, & Andrei investigated in-service secondary teachers’ perspectives on adolescent ELL writing instruction. Shvidko (b) conducted an interview with Professor Paul Kei Matsuda and discussed building the expertise of L2 writing teachers and researchers. Teng investigated how two Chinese teachers’ beliefs changed after a professional development project for teaching writing.

Reader development. Only two publications touched upon reader development, and they focused on writing teachers. Bruce & Rafoth’s book serves as a guide for writing center tutors to address the growing need of the international student population. Canagarajah investigated how the exposure to translingual writing promotes teacher development in composition classrooms.


Context is the third major category. The term context is used in a broad sense here, including institutional context, the field of L2 writing in general, national/regional context, and publication context. A total of 29 publications were identified in the context category.

Institutional contexts. Bailey investigated the experiences of tutors, administrators, and students in a South African multilingual writing center and proposed models for running such centers efficiently. Crosthwaite conducted a longitudinal multidimensional analysis of the effectiveness of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) instruction in a university in Hong Kong. An edited book by de Oliveira & Silva explored second language writing in elementary classrooms and discussed instructional issues, content-area writing, and teacher education. O’Meara (a) conducted an institutional ethnography by looking at the second language writing community at Arizona State University. Randall investigated a sheltered university bridge program for ESL students at a large public university in the US that identified the dynamics between students and of team-teaching. Shapiro, Cox, Shuck, & Simnitt proposed a framework by which instructors and administrators can promote the empowerment of multilingual students and applied the framework in their own institutional context. Shvidko (c) investigated the impact of negative institutional factors on teacher feedback. Simpson, Caplan, Cox, & Philips investigated the design of research, curricula, and programs to support graduate student writers. Xu, Huang, & You investigated how Chinese undergraduate students write their theses in light of the influence of institutional language standards.

The field of L2 writing. The field of L2 writing was addressed in nine publications. Hyland (c) reviewed key studies to describe the methods and methodologies in second language writing research. Kakh & Bitchener wrote a short piece about the 14th Symposium on Second Language Writing. Manchón & Matsuda edited The Handbook of Second and Foreign Language Writing, which is an authoritative reference compendium of the theory and research on second language writing. Mu & Matsuda investigated how L2 writing professionals perceive replication in L2 writing research. Paiz called for more dialogue and critical discussion about sexual identities and their sociocultural relevance in L2 writing. Polio & Friedman’s edited book provided a systematic way for readers to understand, evaluate, and conduct L2 writing research. Williams & Condon called for an alliance among scholars in the fields of composition studies, translingualism, and second language writing. Silva and his colleagues provided a systematic review of scholarship on L2 writing in the year 2014 and 2015 (Silva, Park, Zhang, & Chen; Silva, Chen, Velazquez, & Yang).

National and regional contexts. National and regional contexts represent a geographical division of L2 writing contexts. For example, Ahmed & Abouabdelkader investigated the realities and challenges of teaching EFL writing in the 21st century Arab world. Devi investigated the role of class size in second language teaching in India and problems faced by language teachers in writing classes. Luo & Hyland examined the role of local English teachers as literacy brokers or “text mediators” in the Chinese context and discussed the types of difficulties these English teachers experienced. Naghdipour looked at English writing instruction in Iran and the major factors that shape the dynamics of English writing at different levels of education. Saeli investigated how EFL teachers and students’ perceptions of written corrective feedback were influenced by Iranian sociocultural norms with regard to English education. Silva, Wang, Zhang, & Paiz’s edited book explored the status of L2 writing teaching and research in a number of national and regional contexts. Finally, Zhang investigated how Chinese students prepared themselves for undergraduate studies at universities in the United States.

Publication context. The publications in this category mainly comprise Hyland’s (a) article “Academic Publishing: Communicative Inequality and Possible ‘Linguistic Injustice’” and two responses generated by this article (Politzer-Ahles, Holliday, Girolamo, Spychalska, & Berkson; Hyland, b). In addition, Bou Ayash investigated postmonolingual language representations in academic literacies.


The category of instruction was the largest in our review. There were a total of 96 publications related to various aspects of teaching second language writing. These publications were further divided into five subcategories: pedagogical approaches, response to student writing, computer-assisted teaching, genre-based instruction, and curriculum.

Pedagogical approaches. Considerable attention in the category of instruction was paid to various pedagogical approaches. This subcategory consists of 38 publications. Among all pedagogical approaches described in the literature, the topic of connections between reading and writing was discussed in eight publications, including Hirvela’s book about connecting reading and writing. Other scholars explored the influence of reading on writing or vice versa (Lee & Schallert; Park; Shum, Shi, & Tai), text interpretation (Doolan & Fitzsimmons-Doolan) and summary writing (Lin; Marzec-Stawiarska), and the use of freewriting as a tool for understanding literature (Salas, Garson, Khanna, & Murray).

Along with the incorporation of reading into a writing course, other pedagogical approaches described in the literature were a multimodal composing approach (Jiang & Luk; Shipka; Tang), a collaborative writing approach (McDonough, Crawford, & De Vleeschauwer; Porto), a process approach (Joaquin, Kim, & Shin; Masaeli & Chalak), a translingual approach (Guerra; Motlhaka & Makalela), and an alignment-oriented approach (Haiyan & Rilong). Finally, Davies’ book provides a comprehensive, theory-based discussion of various pedagogical approaches that can be used in L2 composition.

In addition to various pedagogical approaches, a separate group of publications included in this subcategory described the implementation of specific classroom activities and strategies, including task-related activities (Amiryousefi; Johnson & Nicodemus; Kim & Kim; Mahdavirad; Meurers; Shintani, Aubrey, & Donnellan), singing as a tool for increasing L2 fluency in writing (Alisaari & Heikkola), metadiscourse markers (Farhadi, Aidinloo & Talebi), translation drills (He), functional metalanguage (Humphrey & Macnaught), using drama in L2 writing (Nurhayati), strategies supporting ELL writers (Olson, Scarcella, & Matuchniak), modeling online peer revision (Saeed & Ghazali), explicit vocabulary instruction (Solati-Dehkordi & Salehi), journal peer writing (Wang, Shen, & Lu), thematic organization (Wei, a), metacognitive strategies (Xiao), languaging (L. Yang), and the use of literature in class (Setyowati).

Response to student writing. The second largest group of publications in the category of instruction is related to response to student writing, the core activity of writing instruction, and is represented by 28 publications.

A constant scholarly interest in written corrective feedback is reflected in ten publications, as it has undoubtedly been one of the most widely-researched topics in the field over the past several decades. Various types of written corrective feedback were explored in the literature, including direct and metalinguistic (Benson), coded (Liu), and indirect (Park, Song, & Shin), as well as computer-mediated corrective feedback (Shintani). Shvidko (a) conducted an interview with Professor Icy Lee, in which she reflected on her plenary speech given at the 2015 Symposium on Second Language Writing about the comparison between comprehensive and focused corrective feedback.

Along with the different types of written corrective feedback, some scholars also examined its effectiveness, either for student writing development (Bitchener & Storch) or for student writing accuracy (Khanlarzadeh & Nemati; Wagner). Finally, the researchers’ aim of increasing the benefits of written corrective feedback was also evident in Rowley’s work, which discussed a variety of strategies that writing teachers can use to correct students’ writing; and in Shepherd, O’Meara, and Snyder, who described a particular strategy that they implemented in their own classrooms called grammar agreements (i.e., agreements between a teacher and a student on how much grammar correction the student wanted to receive) to increase the usefulness of teacher corrective feedback.

Apart from written corrective feedback, several other types of response to student writing were of interest in scholarly publications in 2016. They include multimodal feedback (Elola & Oskoz) and audiovisual feedback (Woodard). Furthermore, three publications described various tools used to respond to student writing, such as screencasts (Alvira), Turnitin (Kostka & Maliborska), and rubrics (Shirinian).

In addition, a collaborative approach to responding to student writing (i.e., writing conferences) was the topic of two publications. Maliborska & You examined instructor and student perspectives on conferences, whereas Mirzaee & Yaqubi took an interactional angle by describing the functions of silence during writing conferences.

Peer feedback was addressed in seven publications, including a comprehensive review of research on peer review from 2005 to 2014 conducted by Yu & Lee (b). The themes explored in the articles on peer feedback include the use of computer-assisted peer feedback (T. Chen; Y. Yang), factors influencing peer feedback (H. Min), the use of peer feedback in low-proficiency classes (Sivaslian), the effect of peer feedback on the improvement of student writing (Wang b), and strategies used during peer review (Yu & Lee a).

Two publications took a comparative approach and examined the differences among various types of feedback. Diab compared peer feedback, teacher feedback, and self-feedback, and Tigchelaar analyzed the cases of self-review, peer review, and no review. Finally, response to student writing was also described in its relation to teacher education (Lee b) and teacher professional development (Lee, Mak, & Burns).

Computer-assisted teaching. As technology rapidly develops, it finds its implementation in L2 teaching, and the field of second language writing is no exception. We found 22 publications that addressed various topics related to computer-assisted teaching of L2 writing. In this subcategory, seven publications described the use of technology in collaborative writing.

First, Alshalan and Bikowski & Vithanage examined the effect of web-based collaborative writing on individual L2 writing development. In a similar vein, Challob, Bakar, & Latif were concerned with the influence of computer-assisted collaborative writing on student writing comprehension and writing performance. Furthermore, three publications examined computer-assisted collaborative writing itself. I. Li (a) and S. Kim described student interaction during collaborative writing, Miller discussed the process of computer-assisted collaborative writing tasks, and Rouhshad & Storch compared interactional patterns in computer-assisted and face-to-face contexts. Finally, Zou, Wang, & Xing examined how students provided corrective feedback on each other’s papers using Wikis.

Along with computer-assisted collaborative writing, one line of research explored the implementation of various technologies in the L2 writing classroom, including mobile instant messaging (Andujar), corpora (Alhujaylan; Baghestani; Poole; Tran, Tutin, & Cavalia), Facebook-based e-portfolios (Barrot), blogging (P. Chen), an online formulaic sequence word-combination checker (Grami & Alkazemi), online discussion forums (Jayaron & Abidin), iPads and digital cameras (Rowe & Miller), Google Docs (Seyyedrezaie, Ghonsooly, Shahriari, & Fatemi), a student response system called “Socrative” (Sprague), Facebook (Vikneswaran & Krish), concordancers (Reynolds), and online reference materials (Yoon).

Genre-based approaches. Another subtopic in the category of instruction was research on genre-based approaches, which is represented by six publications in our review. Whereas Troyan addressed the issue of implementing genre-based pedagogy in standards-based writing, other scholars discussed a particular writing genre, such as email writing (Y. Chen), argumentative writing (Miller, Mitchell, & Pessoa; Nodoushan; Salter-Dvorak), and research paper writing (Tuyen, Osman, Dan, & Ahmad).

Curriculum. The last topic in the category of instruction is related to curricular issues in the teaching of writing. Y. Min was concerned with graduate student writing support and discussed designing writing service courses for international graduate students. O’Meara (b) suggested using writing fellow tutors for the purpose of providing support for students and teachers in L2 writing classrooms.

Text Analysis

The fifth theme is text analysis. 49 studies focused on analyzing text-based features, which make up slightly more than one sixth of the total amount of the scholarship on L2 writing in 2016. The articles on text analysis were divided into seven subcategories. The categories are presented in order from the largest to the smallest.

Lexical and lexico-grammatical analysis. The first subcategory, lexical and lexico-grammatical analysis, accounts for the largest portion of the texts category. The two main foci of studies at the lexico-grammatical level were lexical bundles and lexical competence and use. Eight out of the fourteen studies examined lexical bundles or word combinations from diverse perspectives. The criteria for these lexico-grammatical comparisons mainly encompassed factors intrinsic to writers such as their first languages, L2 proficiency levels, and/or expertise (Appel & Wood; Chen & Baker; Garner; Öztürk & Köse; Pan, Reppen, & Biber; Yoon). Also, these writer variables were examined in combination with other aspects of writing. For example, Staples & Reppen discussed the lexico-grammatical features in undergraduate first-year writing across different L1s, genres, and language ratings. Edwards & Lange explored the use of lexical bundles (three word clusters) across three different varietal types of English based on Kachru’s Three Circles model: the Inner Circle (native English), Outer Circle (ESL), and Expanding Circle (EFL). The other six studies investigated lexical competence and use, such as lexical richness, density, sophistication, and collocational competence (Johnson, Acevedo, & Mercado; Kyle & Crossley; Vedder & Benigno; Zhai), lexical cohesion (Kadiri, Igbokwe, Okebalama, & Egbe), and shell nouns (Schanding).

Two or more levels of text analysis. A number of studies approached understanding written texts from a more comprehensive and holistic perspective, featuring two or more levels of text analysis. Two studies accentuated distinctive characteristics intrinsic to non-native writers’ narrative story production (Kamimura) and textual appropriation (Shi). Four studies were focused on bilingualism and examined lexical features and code switching (Fairclough & Belpoliti), literacy elements and heteroglossic voices (Spence & Tao), attributes and potential use of NNS’ writing (Massung & Zhai), and the cross-linguistic impact of spelling and sentence generation skills on writing (Danzak & Arfé). Flowerdew & Wang’s analysis contemplated the negotiation between L2 scholars, journal editors, and peer reviewers at various lexico-grammatical levels and types of revisions in their published articles. Expanding bilingualism, Gilyard, Cushman, and Bawarshi, respectively, explored the themes of rhetoric, meaning making, and genre fixation within a translingual approach.

Rhetoric and written discourse. Rhetoric and written discourse analysis was the third largest subtheme in the text category. Two studies discussed rhetorical transfer (Arsyad & Arono; Hosseini), and nine studies looked at L2 writing, employing written discourse analysis. Zarepour addressed the issue of cohesion, and Miller & Pessoa explored organization. The majority, however, analyzed the use of either metadiscourse (Aziz, Jin, & Nordin; Dehghan & Chalak; Jin & Shang; Kazmei; Lee & Deakin) or stance and interaction features, such as appraisal and evaluation (Xie; Y. Yang).

Syntactic analysis. Syntactic analysis, the fourth largest theme in the text category, mainly focused on error analysis and language development. Five out of the eight studies examined specific syntactic features such as conjunctions (Darweesh & Kadhim), verb construction (Salido), modality (Elturki & Salsbury), nominalization and grammatical metaphor (Liardét), and free variation (Ramanan). Other studies compared syntactic characteristics of a specific L2 population, such as the L2 writing of native users of sign language (Thierfelder & Stapleton). Al Karazoun put a finer emphasis on a specific genre, analyzing errors in Jordanian undergraduate writers’ news headlines. In addition, Schenker analyzed syntactic complexity in cross-cultural e-mail exchange.

Genre analysis and move analysis. Genre analysis and move analysis have also been of steady interest. Qin & Uccelli conducted a cross-genre analysis to study Chinese EFL writing. Based on the move analysis framework, Nathan probed the options used in pedagogical business case reports, while Zarepour & Saidloo examined EFL request emails.

Orthographical analysis. In this category, Bai investigated cross-linguistic transfer of spelling from Spanish to English by comparing Spanish-speaking non-native speakers’ (NNS) and native speakers’ (NS) spelling skills. Hamilton also examined L2 spelling systems in comparison with L1 spelling in terms of cognitive models for spelling.

Systemic functional analysis. Studies based on systemic functional analysis comprise a relatively small number. Within the systemic-functional framework, Crane analyzed L2 personal letter writing and Wei (b) investigated thematic choice in Chinese college students’ English essays.


Writing assessment, the last category of this review, consists of a relatively small number of studies. Five themes were identified among 29 publications. The themes include L2 learners, technology in assessment, teachers and raters, scoring rubrics, and genre and discipline.

L2 Learners. Shifting from teachers and raters, researchers focused on learners as autonomous agents in writing assessment. Scholarship on learner-centered assessment highlighted formative values of assessment, for example, learners’ perceptions and needs (S. Kim; C. Lee; I. Lee, a), methods that facilitate learners’ involvement in the process of assessment and feedback (Huang), and a comparison of peer and teacher-assessment (Jung). Two studies addressed the issues to consider in writing assessment in regard to distinctive characteristics of L1 writing and diverse L2 writer populations. Harrison discussed predictors of spelling and writing skills by comparing L2 learners’ performance on various writing tasks with L1 writers’. Finally, di Gennaro compared international and U.S. resident L2 learners’ errors and drew implications for tentative criteria in placement testing.

Technology in assessment. There was a great deal of interest in using technology for assessment. Automated essay evaluation was a predominant topic, and it was explored with a primary focus on the improvement of grammatical proficiency. In addition to quantitative or experimental studies (Liao, a; Liao, b; Feng, Saricaoglu, & Chukharev-Hudilainen), Hoang & Kunnan conducted a case study about using My Access, adding a qualitative vantage point. The other two studies introduced the effects of different test media. Zhu, Shum, Tse, & Liu compared word-processor and pencil-and-paper tests, while Zou & Chen examined the effects of computer and paper tests on the writing scores and the cognitive process of test takers with different levels of computer familiarity.

Teachers and raters. Teachers and raters continued to receive a substantial amount of attention in the category of writing assessment. Three studies involved surveys in search of teachers’ knowledge, beliefs, and practices in writing assessment (C. Chen; Crusan, Plakans, & Gebril; Marefat & Heydari). Other studies include Goodwin’s research on raters’ behaviors on reading and writing tests, and Vu’s examination of decision-making in placement tests.

Specific assessment methods and tasks were also investigated, adding practical insights. Ketabi compared various writing assessment methods of EFL teachers in Iran. Saliani proposed the portfolio as an alternative to reevaluate emergent bilingual writers. The other studies scrutinized the effects of particular tasks, such as process-based and impromptu timed writing exams (David), academic graph writing (H. Yang), source-based tasks (Gebril & Plakans), and integrated and independent writing tasks (Riazi).

Scoring rubrics. Research on scoring rubrics, a common theme in writing assessment, was also aligned with the overall trend in the assessment category, with the increasing emphasis on L2 learners rather than raters/teachers to a varying degree. Becker experimented with the formative value of learner-generated rubrics with regards to learners’ writing performance improvement. Ene and Kosobucki illuminated the interaction of scoring rubric and corrective feedback in light of a learner’s writing development and satisfaction. Lallmamode, Daud, & Kassim reported the development and validation of a scoring rubric to assess L2 writing electronic portfolios.

Genre and discipline. Beyond conventional issues, genre and discipline were also addressed in the category of assessment. J. Lee evaluated the connections among an ESL writing course, a first-year composition course, and content courses from a writing assessment perspective and emphasized the need for modifying writing assignments and evaluation practices to enhance L2 writing development on a coherent continuum. Dryer stressed the importance of alternative understandings of language in English writing assessment and suggested the revision of scales based on a translingual approach rather than on monolingualism.


In developing this overview, we are reminded once again of the rapid expansion in and the broadening scope of this robust field of inquiry. We hope that in providing this overview of scholarship published in the field of second language writing in 2016, we will help educators and scholars remain informed about the ongoing trends and new issues in second language writing theory, research, and instruction.


Abrams, Z. I., & Byrd, D. R. (2016). The effects of pre-task planning on L2 writing: Mind-mapping and chronological sequencing in a 1st-year German class. System, 63, 1-12.

Ahmed, A., & Abouabdelkader, H. (Eds.). (2016). Teaching EFL writing in the 21st century Arab world: Realities and challenges. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Al Karazoun, G. A. (2016). A linguistic analysis of errors committed by Jordanian EFL undergraduate students: A case of news headlines in Jordanian newspapers. English Language Teaching, 9(8), 170-189.

Alghammas, A. A. (2016). Wiki-based collaborative writing activities in ESL contexts. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. The University of Memphis.

Alharbi, M. (2016). Exploring Saudi EFL learners’ perceptions of collaborative writing. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. The University of Memphis.

Alhujaylan, H. (2016). A computer-aided error analysis of Saudi students’ written English and an evaluation of the efficacy of using the data-driven learning approach to teach collocations and lexical phrases. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Essex.

Alisaari, J., & Heikkola, L. M. (2016). Increasing fluency in L2 writing with singing. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 6(2), 271-292.

Allen, D., & Katayama, A. (2016). Relative second language proficiency and the giving and receiving of written peer feedback. System, 56, 96-106.

Allen, D., & Mills, A. (2016). The impact of second language proficiency in dyadic peer feedback. Language Teaching Research, 20(4), 498-513.

Alshalan, A. M. (2016). The effects of Wiki-based collaborative writing on ESL students’ individual writing performance. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Wayne State University.

Alvira, R. (2016). The impact of oral and written feedback on EFL writers with the use of screencasts. Profile Issues in Teachers’ Professional Development, 18(2), 79-92.

Amiryousefi, M. (2016). The differential effects of two types of task repetition on the complexity, accuracy, and fluency in computer-mediated L2 written production: A focus on computer anxiety. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(5), 1050-1066.

Andujar, A. (2016). Benefits of mobile instant messaging to develop ESL writing. System, 62, 63-76.

Appel, R., & Wood, D. (2016). Recurrent word combinations in EAP test-taker writing: Differences between high-and low-proficiency levels. Language Assessment Quarterly, 13(1), 55-71.

Arsyad, S., & Arono. (2016). Potential problematic rhetorical style transfer from first language to foreign language: A case of Indonesian authors writing research article introductions in English. Journal of Multicultural Discourses, 11(3), 315-330.

Aziz, R. A., Jin, C. C., & Nordin, N. M. (2016). The use of interactional metadiscourse in the construction of gender identities among Malaysian ESL learners. Language, Linguistics, Literature, 22(1), 207-220.

Azizoglu, B. E. (2016). Developing a rationale for a writing program on the basis of the poetic function of language. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Bagheri, M. S., & Riasati, M. J. (2016). EFL graduate students’ IELTS writing problems and students’ and teachers’ beliefs and suggestions regarding writing skill improvement. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 7(1), 198-209.

Baghestani, S. (2016). Addressing language errors in L2 students’ writing: Can corpora help? Saarbrücken, Germany: Noor Publishing.

Bai, Y. (2016). Cross-linguistic transfer of spelling skills in Spanish-speaking adult ESL learners. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Maryland, College Park.

Bailey, N. (2016). “The languages of other people”: The experiences of tutors, administrators, and students in a South African multilingual writing center. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Indiana State University.

Barkaoui, K. (2016). What and when second language learners revise when responding to timed writing tasks on the computer: The roles of task type, second language proficiency, and keyboarding skills. The Modern Language Journal, 100(1), 320-340.

Barrot, J. S. (2016). Using Facebook-based e-portfolio in ESL writing classrooms: Impact and challenges. Language, Culture, and Curriculum, 29(3), 286-301.

Bawarshi, A. (2016). Beyond the genre fixation: A translingual perspective on genre. College English, 78(3), 243-249.

Becker, A. (2016). Student-generated scoring rubrics: Examining their formative value for improving ESL students’ writing performance. Assessing Writing, 29, 15-24.

Benson, S. D. (2016). Explicit written corrective feedback and language aptitude in SLA: Implications for improvement of linguistic accuracy. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Maryland.

Bikowski, D., & Vithanage, R. (2016). Effects of web-based collaborative writing on individual L2 writing development. Language Learning & Technology, 20(1), 79-99.

Bitchener, J., & Storch, N. (2016). Written corrective feedback for L2 development. Buffalo, NY: Multilingual Matters.

Boshrabadi, A. M., & Sarabi, S. B. (2016). Cyber-communic@tion etiquette: The interplay between social distance, gender and discursive features of student-faculty email interactions. Interactive Technology and Smart Education, 13(2), 86-106.

Bou Ayash, N. (2016). Conditions of (im)possibility: Postmonolingual language representations in academic literacies. College English, 78(6), 555-577.

Bruce, S., & Rafoth, B. (2016). Tutoring second language writers. Logan UT: Utah State University Press.

Cahyono, B. Y., & Amrina, R. (2016). Indonesian EFL students’ perception on training in writing research articles for publication. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 7(5), 859-866.

Cahyono, B. Y., & Mutiaraningrum, I. (2016). Indonesian EFL teachers’ familiarity with and opinion on the Internet-based teaching of writing. English Language Teaching, 9(1), 199- 208.

Canagarajah, S. (2016). Translingual writing and teacher development in composition. College English, 78(3), 265-273.

Carter, K., & Aulette, J. (2016). Publish, Don’t Perish: Ten Tips. English Teaching Forum, 54(1), 20-28.

Cavazos, A. G. (2016). Latina/o academics’ resilient qualities in their linguistically diverse practices. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 15(1), 69-86.

Challob, A. I., Bakar, N. A., & Latif, H. (2016). Collaborative blended learning writing environment: Effects on EFL students’ writing apprehension and writing performance. English Language Teaching, 9(6), 229-241.

Chandler-Olcott, K., & Nieroda, J. (2016). The creation and evolution of a co-teaching community: How teachers learned to address adolescent English language learners’ needs as writers. Equity & Excellence in Education, 49(2), 170-182.

Chang, C. Y. H. (2016a). EFL reviewers’ emoticon use in asynchronous computer-mediated peer response. Computers and Composition, 40, 1-18.

Chang, C. Y. H. (2016b). Two decades of research in L2 peer review. Journal of Writing Research, 8(1), 81-117.

Chang, P. (2016). EFL doctoral students’ conceptions of authorial stance in academic research writing: An exploratory study. RELC Journal, 47(2), 175-192.

Chang, P., & Schleppegrell, M. (2016). Explicit learning of authorial stance-taking by L2 doctoral students. Journal of Writing Research, 8(1), 49-80.

Chen, C. W. Y. (2016). A survey on EFL teachers’ assessment methods in entry-level writing courses in technological universities in Taiwan. Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics (PAAL), 20(1), 21-36.

Chen, P. J. (2016). Learners’ metalinguistic and affective performance in blogging to write. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(4), 790-814.

Chen, T. (2016). Technology-supported peer feedback in ESL/EFL writing classes: A research synthesis. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(2), 365-397.

Chen, Y. H., & Baker, P. (2014). Investigating criterial discourse features across second language development: Lexical bundles in rated learner essays, CEFR B1, B2 and C1. Applied Linguistics, 37(6), 849-880.

Chen, Y. S. (2016). Understanding the development of Chinese EFL learners’ email literacy through Exploratory Practice. Language Teaching Research, 20(2), 165-180.

Christiansen, M. S., & Bloch, J. (2016). Papers are never finished, just abandoned: The role of written teacher comments in the revision process. Journal of Response to Writing, 2(1), 6-42.

Collazo, K. (2016, October). An undergraduate’s reflection: From a writing center tutor to working with English language learners. SLW News.

Crane, C. (2016). A systemic functional linguistics analysis of student texts in German. Die Unterrichtspraxis/Teaching German, 49(2), 122-139.

Crawford, T., Mora Pablo, I., & Lengeling, M. M. (2016). Struggling authorial identity of second language university academic writers in Mexico. PROFILE: Issues in Teachers’ Professional Development, 18(1), 115-127.

Crossley, S. A., Kyle, K., & McNamara, D. S. (2016). The development and use of cohesive devices in L2 writing and their relations to judgments of essay quality. Journal of Second Language Writing, 32, 1-16.

Crosthwaite, P. (2016). A longitudinal multidimensional analysis of EAP writing: Determining EAP course effectiveness. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 22, 166-178.

Crusan, D., Plakans, L., & Gebril, A. (2016). Writing assessment literacy: Surveying second language teachers’ knowledge, beliefs, and practices. Assessing Writing, 28, 43-56.

Cumming, A., Lai, C., & Cho, H. (2016). Students’ writing from sources for academic purposes: A synthesis of recent research. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 23, 47-58.

Cushman, E. (2016). Translingual and decolonial approaches to meaning making. College English, 78(3), 234-242.

da Rosa, M. T. (2016). Self-fictions: writing among languages-cultures. Revista Brasileira de Linguística Aplicada, 16(1), 81-106.

Danzak, R. L., & Arfé, B. (2016). Globally minded text production: Bilingual, expository writing of Italian adolescents learning English. Topics in Language Disorders, 36(1), 35-51.

Darweesh, A. D., & Kadhim, S. A. H. (2016). Iraqi EFL learners’ problems in using conjunctions as cohesive devices. Journal of Education and Practice, 7(11), 169-180.

David, V. (2016). A comparison of two approaches for assessing L2 writing: Process-based and impromptu timed writing exams. Applied Language Learning, 26(1), 65-82.

Davies, R. J. (2016). English L2 composition pedagogy: Approaches and ideologies. Amazon Digital Services LLC.

De Oliveira, L. C., & Silva, T. (2016). Second language writing in elementary classrooms: Instructional issues, content-area writing and teacher education. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Dehghan, M., & Chalak, A. (2016). Code glosses in academic writing: The comparison of Iranian and native authors. Iranian Journal of Research in English Language Teaching, 3(2), 21-29.

Devi, B. R. (2016). Problems faced by the teachers of a large class in imparting writing skills at the tertiary level. Language in India, 16(4), 165-173.

di Gennaro, K. (2016). Searching for differences and discovering similarities: Why international and resident second-language learners’ grammatical errors cannot serve as a proxy for placement into writing courses. Assessing Writing, 29, 1-14.

Diab, N. M. (2016). A comparison of peer, teacher and self-feedback on the reduction of language errors in student essays. System, 57, 55-65.

Doolan, S. M., & Fitzsimmons-Doolan, S. (2016). Facilitating L2 writers’ interpretation of source texts. TESOL Journal, 7(3), 716-745.

Dryer, D. B. (2016). Appraising translingualism. College English, 78(3), 274-283.

Eckstein, G. (2016). Ideal versus reality: Student expectations and experiences in multilingual writing center tutorials. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of California, Davis.

Edwards, A., & Lange, R. J. (2016). In case of innovation: Academic phraseology in the three circles. International Journal of Learner Corpus Research, 2(2), 252-277.

Elola, I., & Mikulski, A. M. (2016). Similar and/or different writing processes?: A study of Spanish foreign language and heritage language learners. Hispania, 99(1), 87-102.

Elola, I., & Oskoz, A. (2016). Supporting second language writing using multimodal feedback. Foreign Language Annals, 49(1), 58-74.

Elturki, E., & Salsbury, T. (2016). A cross-sectional investigation of the development of modality in English language learners’ writing: A corpus-driven study. Issues in Applied Linguistics, 20, 51-72.

Ene, E., & Kosobucki, V. (2016). Rubrics and corrective feedback in ESL writing: A longitudinal case study of an L2 writer. Assessing Writing, 30, 3-20.

Erdmann, S. (2016). Figurative language and multicultural education: Metaphors of language acquisition and retention. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 37(2), 184-198.

Fahmee, F., & Yong, M. F. (2016). Language choice in online written communication among Maldivian professionals. Language, Linguistics, Literature, 22(2), 49-66.

Fairclough, M., & Belpoliti, F. (2016). Emerging literacy in Spanish among Hispanic heritage language university students in the USA: A pilot study. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 19(2), 185-201.

Farhadi, S., Aidinloo, N. A., & Talebi, Z. (2016). The writing performance of Iranian EFL learners in the light of metadiscourse awareness. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 7(5), 923-928.

Feng, H. H., Saricaoglu, A., & Chukharev-Hudilainen, E. (2016). Automated error detection for developing grammar proficiency of ESL learners. CALICO Journal, 33(1), 49-70.

Feng, H., & Du-Babcock, B. (2016). “Business is business”: Constructing cultural identities in a persuasive writing task. English for Specific Purposes, 44, 30-42.

Finn, H. B., & Avni, S. (2016). Academic literacy as language policy in community college developmental writing. Current Issues in Language Planning, 17(3-4), 369-384.

Flowerdew, J., & Wang, S. H. (2016). Author’s editor revisions to manuscripts published in international journals. Journal of Second Language Writing, 32, 39-52.

Garner, J. R. (2016). A phrase-frame approach to investigating phraseology in learner writing across proficiency levels. International Journal of Learner Corpus Research, 2(1), 31-67.

Gebril, A., & Plakans, L. (2016). Source-based tasks in academic writing assessment: Lexical diversity, textual borrowing and proficiency. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 24, 78-88.

Gherwash, G. (2016). From text to context: Literacy practices of native speakers of Arabic in Arabic and English. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Purdue University.

Gilyard, K. (2016). The rhetoric of translingualism. College English, 78(3), 284-289.

Gonca, A. (2016). Do L2 writing courses affect the improvement of L1 writing skills via skills transfer from L2 to L1? Educational Research and Reviews, 11(10), 987-997.

Gonzales, L. J. (2016). Sites of translation: What multilinguals can teach us about writing, rhetoric, and technology. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Michigan State University.

Goodrich, J. M., Farrington, A. L., & Lonigan, C. J. (2016). Relations between early reading and writing skills among Spanish-speaking language minority children. Reading and Writing, 29(2), 297-319.

Goodwin, S. (2016). A Many-Facet Rasch analysis comparing essay rater behavior on an academic English reading/writing test used for two purposes. Assessing Writing, 30, 21-31.

Grabe, W., & Zhang, C. (2016). Reading-writing relationships in first and second language academic literacy development. Language Teaching, 49(03), 339-355.

Grami, G. M. A., & Alkazemi, B. Y. (2015). Improving ESL writing using an online formulaic sequence word‐combination checker. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 32(2), 95-104.

Guerra, J. C. (2016). Cultivating a rhetorical sensibility in the translingual writing classroom. College English, 78(3), 228-233.

Gustilo, L. E. (2016). Differences in less proficient and more proficient ESL college writing in the Philippine setting. The Philippine ESL Journal, 16, 27-45.

Haiyan, M., & Rilong, L. (2016). Classroom EFL writing: The alignment-oriented approach. English Language Teaching, 9(4), 76-82.

Hamilton, T. G., & Todd, R. W. (2016). Investigating models for second language spelling. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 167(1), 16-45.

Hanjani, M. A. (2016). Collaborative revision in L2 writing: Learners’ reflections. ELT Journal, 70(3), 296-308.

Harrison, G. (2016). Predictors of spelling and writing skills in first- and second-language learners. Reading & Writing, 29(1), 69-90.

He, X. (2016). An action research on improving non-English majors’ English writing by “basic sentence pattern translation drills”. English Language Teaching, 9(1), 142-147.

Hirvela, A. R. (2016). Connecting reading & writing in second language writing instruction (2nd edition). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Ho, M. (2016). Exploring writing anxiety and self-efficacy among EFL graduate students in Taiwan. Higher Education Studies, 6(1), 24-39.

Hoang, G. T. L., & Kunnan, A. J. (2016). Automated essay evaluation for English language learners: A case study of “My Access.” Language Assessment Quarterly, 13(4), 359-376.

Hosseini, M. (2016). Rhetorical transfer among young EFL learners: The first experience of paragraph writing investigated. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 7(5), 876-885.

Hu, G., & Lei, J. (2016). Plagiarism in English academic writing: A comparison of Chinese university teachers’ and students’ understandings and stances. System, 56, 107-118.

Huang, S. (2016). No longer a teacher monologue—involving EFL writing learners in teachers’ assessment and feedback processes. Taiwan Journal of TESOL, 13(1), 1-31.

Humphrey, S., & Macnaught, L. (2016). Functional language instruction and the writing growth of English language learners in the middle years. TESOL Quarterly, 50(4), 792-816.

Hyland, K. (2016a). Academic publishing and the myth of linguistic injustice. Journal of Second Language Writing, 31, 58-69.

Hyland, K. (2016b). Language myths and publishing mysteries: A response to Politzer-Ahles et al. Journal of Second Language Writing, 34, 9-11.

Hyland, K. (2016c). Methods and methodologies in second language writing research. System, 59, 116-125.

Iida, A. (2016). Poetic identity in second language writing: Exploring an EFL learner’s study abroad experience. Eurasian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 2(1), 1-14.

Ismail, F.S. (2016). Perceived influence of formal second language education on first language writing. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Jayaron, J., & Abidin, M. J. Z. (2016). A pedagogical perspective on promoting English as a foreign language writing through online forum discussions. English Language Teaching, 9(2), 84-101.

Jiang, D. (2016). An empirical study on alleviating career English writing anxiety through cooperative learning in a Chinese Polytechnic Institute. International Journal of Higher Education, 5(1), 173-182.

Jiang, L., & Luk, J. (2016). Multimodal composing as a learning activity in English classrooms: Inquiring into the sources of its motivational capacity. System, 59, 1-11.

Jin, X., & Shang, Y. (2016). Analyzing metadiscourse in the English abstracts of BA theses. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 7(1), 210-215.

Joaquin, A. D., Kim, S. H., & Shin, S. Y. (2016). Examining prewriting strategies in L2 writing: Do they really work? Asian EFL Journal, 18(2), 156-189.

Johnson, M. D., & Nicodemus, C. L. (2016). Testing a threshold: An approximate replication of Johnson, Mercado & Acevedo 2012. Language Teaching, 49(2), 251-274.

Johnson, M. D., Acevedo, A., & Mercado, L. (2016). Vocabulary knowledge and vocabulary use in second language writing. TESOL Journal, 7(3), 700-715.

Jordan, J. (2016). Triangulating translingualism: Comment on Jay Jordan’s “material translingual ecologies”/Jay Jordan responds. College English, 78(4), 390-393.

Jung, M. Y. (2016). Peer/teacher-assessment using criteria in the EFL classroom for developing students L2 writing. Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics, 20(1), 1-20.

Kadiri, G. C., Igbokwe, U. L., Okebalama, U. N., & Egbe, C. I. (2016). The use of lexical cohesion elements in the writing of ESL learners. Research in Language, 14(3), 221-234.

Kakh, S., & Bitchener, J. (2016). Short communication on the 14th Symposium on Second Language Writing (SSLW 2015): Learning to write for academic purposes: Advancing theory, research and practice. Journal of Second Language Writing, 32, 36-38.

Kamimura, T. (2016). Skilled and unskilled Japanese EFL student writers’ narrative story production. Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics, 20(1), 37-54.

Kazemi, A. (2016). Hedging in academic writing: The case of Iranian EFL journals. International Journal of Language Studies, 10(4), 109-130.

Kelly, L. J. (2016). ‘Does the mirror speak my language? : A comparison of L1 and L2 student reflections on their experiences in a small-group writing tutorial. RELC Journal, 47(2), 229-243.

Ketabi, S. (2016). Different methods of assessing writing among EFL teachers in Iran. International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning. 5(2), 3-15.

Khanlarzadeh, M., & Nemati, M. (2016). The effect of written corrective feedback on grammatical accuracy of EFL students: An improvement over previous unfocused designs. Iranian Journal of Language Teaching Research, 4(2), 55-68.

Kheradmand Saadi, Z. (2016). Meaning making, agency, and languaging in dialogic interactions on academic writing tasks: A sociocultural discourse analysis. ERIC document: ED566408.

Kibler, A. K., Heny, N. A., & Andrei, E. (2016). In-service teachers’ perspectives on adolescent ELL writing instruction. TESOL Journal, 7(2), 350-392.

Kim, B., & Kim, H. (2016). Korean college EFL learners’ task motivation in written language production. International Education Studies, 9(2), 42-50.

Kim, S. (2016). No point in talking about what I want to the teachers: A call for a dialogic needs assessment. The Asian EFL Journal Quarterly, 18(2), 190-215.

Kim, Y. (2016). A framework for understanding second language writing strategies.Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Arizona State University.

Kosaka, M. (2016). How I have improved my English writing skills. TESOL Journal, 7(2), 497-499.

Kostka, I., & Maliborska, V. (2016). Using Turnitin to provide feedback on L2 writers’ texts. The Electronic Journal for English as a Second Language, 20(2), 1-22.

Kyle, K., & Crossley, S. (2016). The relationship between lexical sophistication and independent and source-based writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 34, 12-24.

Lallmamode, S. P.,Daud, N. M., & Kassim, N. L. A. (2016). Development and initial argument based validation of a scoring rubric used in the assessment of L2 writing electronic portfolios. Assessing Writing, 30, 44-62.

Lee, C. (2016). Second language learners’ self-perceived roles and participation in face-to-face English writing consultations. System, 63, 51-64.

Lee, I. (2016a). Putting students at the centre of classroom L2 writing assessment. Canadian Modern Language Review, 72(2), 258-280.

Lee, I. (2016b). Teacher education on feedback in EFL writing: Issues, challenges, and future directions. TESOL Quarterly, 50(2), 518-527.

Lee, I., Mak, P., & Burns, A. (2016). EFL teachers’ attempts at feedback innovation in the writing classroom. Language Teaching Research, 20(2), 248-269.

Lee, J. (2016). Transfer from ESL academic writing to first year composition and other disciplinary courses: An assessment perspective. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Iowa State University.

Lee, J. J., & Deakin, L. (2016). Interactions in L1 and L2 undergraduate student writing: Interactional metadiscourse in successful and less-successful argumentative essays. Journal of Second Language Writing, 33, 21-34.

Lee, J. W. (2016). Beyond Translingual Writing. College English, 79(2), 174-195.

Lee, J. W., & Jenks, C. (2016). Doing translingual dispositions. College Composition and Communication, 68(2), 317-344.

Lee, J., & Heinz, M. (2016). English language learning strategies reported by advanced language learners. Journal of International Education Research, 12(2), 67-76.

Lee, J., & Schallert, D. (2016). Exploring the reading–writing connection: A yearlong classroom-based experimental study of middle school students developing literacy in a new language. Reading Research Quarterly, 51(2), 143-164.

Lei, X. (2016). Understanding writing strategy use from a sociocultural perspective: The case of skilled and less skilled writers. System, 60, 105-116.

Leonard, R. L., & Nowacek, R. (2016). Transfer and translingualism. College English, 78(3), 258-264.

Li, M., & Kim, D. (2016). One wiki, two groups: Dynamic interactions across ESL collaborative writing tasks. Journal of Second Language Writing, 31, 25-42.

Liao, H. C. (2016a). Enhancing the grammatical accuracy of EFL writing by using an AWE-assisted process approach. System, 62, 77-92.

Liao, H. C. (2016b). Using automated writing evaluation to reduce grammar errors in writing. ELT Journal, 70(3), 308-319.

Liardét, C. L. (2016). Nominalization and grammatical metaphor: Elaborating the theory. English for Specific Purposes, 44, 16-29.

Lin, Y. (2016). Decoding complex constructs of the integrated reading-writing task: Modeling relationships among second language reading/writing proficiency, familiarity with text features, perceived cognitive operation difficulty, and summary writing through the structural equation modeling approach. Unpublished dissertation. Indiana University.

Liu, Q. (2016). Effectiveness of coded corrective feedback in the development of linguistic accuracy in L2 writing: Impact of error types and learner attitudes. Unpublished dissertation. Northern Arizona University.

Lu, M. Z., & Horner, B. (2016). Introduction: Translingual work. College English, 78(3), 207-218.

Luo, N., & Hyland, K. (2016). Chinese academics writing for publication: English teachers as text mediators. Journal of Second Language Writing, 33, 43-55.

Mahdavirad, F. (2016). The effect of personal familiar vs. impersonal less familiar topic on expository writing task performance. The Linguistics Journal, 10(1), 89-105.

Maliborska, V., & You, Y. (2016). Writing conferences in a second language writing classroom: Instructor and student perspectives. TESOL Journal, 7(4), 874-897.

Mallahi, O., Amirian, S. M. R., Zareian, G. R., & Adel, S. M. R. (2016). An investigation into the individual differences correlates of Iranian undergraduate EFL learners’ writing competence: A mixed methods approach. Iranian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 19(1), 99-140.

Manchón, R. M., & Matsuda, P. K. (Eds.). (2016). Handbook of second and foreign language writing. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

Marefat, F., & Heydari, M. (2016). Native and Iranian teachers’ perceptions and evaluation of Iranian students’ English essays. Assessing Writing, 27, 24-36.

Marzec-Stawiarska, M. (2016). The influence of summary writing on the development of reading skills in a foreign language. System, 59, 90-99.

Masaeli, N., & Chalak, A. (2016). The effect of employing electronic portfolio on Iranian EFL learners’ writing skill. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 7(4), 746-751.

Mashhadizadeh, D., & Rezvani, E. (2016). Iranian EFL learners’ attitude towards the use of WBLL approach in writing. International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning, 5(3), 29-38.

Massung, S., & Zhai, C. (2016). Non-native text analysis: A survey. Natural Language Engineering, 22(02), 163-186.

McDonough, K., Crawford, W. J., & De Vleeschauwer, J. (2016). Thai EFL learners’ interaction during collaborative writing tasks and its relationship to text quality. Language Learning and Language Teaching, 45, 185-208.

Meurers, D. (2016). How can writing tasks be characterized in a way serving pedagogical goals and automatic analysis needs? CALICO Journal, 33(1), 19-48.

Miller, L. (2016). Collaborative script writing for a digital media project. Writing & Pedagogy, 8(1), 215-228.

Miller, R. T., & Pessoa, S. (2016). Where’s your thesis statement and what happened to your topic sentences? Identifying organizational challenges in undergraduate student argumentative writing. TESOL Journal, 7(4), 847-873.

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Tony Silva is Professor of English and the Director of the Graduate Program in Second Language Studies in the Department of English at Purdue University.

Kai Yang is a doctoral student in the Graduate Program in Second Language Studies at Purdue University, where he also teaches first-year composition. He is interested in how the field of L2 writing has developed scientifically. More specifically, his research interests include the theoretical, methodological, and philosophical aspects of L2 writing research.

Elena Shvidko is an assistant professor in ESL at the Department of Languages, Philosophy, and Communication Studies at Utah State University. Her research interests include second language writing, multimodal interaction, and interpersonal aspects of teaching.

Ji-young Shin is a PhD student in the Second Language Studies program at Purdue University. With her diverse background as a secondary education EFL teacher, textbook writer, and national exam writer, Ji-young researches issues in language testing/assessment and corpus linguistics, especially at their interface with second language writing.


Melinda Reichelt

Li Shucang

A few published sources explore the experiences of international students with English language writing instruction in English as a second language (ESL) environments, including Zawacki, Hajjabbasi, Habib, Antram, and Das (2007) and Yang (2006). However, these studies neither address the transition students must make when moving from their home contexts to an ESL environment nor focus explicitly on Saudi students. Since 2005, the number of Saudi students in the United States has grown 17-fold. In academic year 2014–15, almost 60,000 Saudi students were enrolled in U.S. universities, most of them supported by generous Saudi government scholarships. Saudi students make up the fourth-largest group of international students in the United States, after students from China, India, and South Korea (Redden, 2016). Given this influx, we decided to pursue the following questions:

  1. What experiences with writing in English did Saudi students have in their home country?

  2. What difficulties did students report having with English, and how did they approach these difficulties?

  3. What were these students’ perceptions of writing in English?

Context of Research and Participants

The research took place from January to June 2014 at a public university in the United States that enrolls approximately 23,000 students, including roughly 2,050 international students. Saudi students make up the largest group of international students at this university. A total of 29 students participated in the study, including 9 females and 20 males. Sixteen had matriculated and were enrolled in ESL writing classes in the English Department, while 13 were attending the university’s intensive English program. Students participated in either group interviews, individual interviews, or both. Fourteen students were interviewed individually.


Writing Experiences in Saudi Arabia

None of the 14 students interviewed individually had written pieces in English beyond a paragraph while in Saudi Arabia. Seven of these students indicated that for the written portion of their high school exams, they would memorize a paragraph that the teacher had given them in advance or they had prepared with help from the teacher. Then, they recapitulated the paragraph on the exam. One student indicated:

One week before the exam, we would get five topics and we’d write a paragraph about each one. Before the final, the teacher would pick two or three and tell us that one of those two or three would be on the final exam—because otherwise, if the teacher didn’t do this, no one would be able to write.

In individual interviews, four students indicated that sometimes when they wrote paragraphs, their teachers provided grammar and vocabulary feedback and required them to revise their work. Only one student had engaged in peer review in a high school English class. Of the five students who had attended some college or university at home, only one indicated that he had written pieces longer than a paragraph. This student said that he had written works of about two pages in length about topics such as hobbies, controversial issues, stories, holidays, and daily activities. Some students wrote about issues in their majors.

Difficulties Faced

Students reported facing various difficulties when writing in their new English-dominant university context, including the following:

  • Writing longer pieces

  • Not knowing how to gain readers’ attention

  • Spelling

  • Vocabulary, especially academic vocabulary

  • Academic writing in general, including organizing academic writing, using MLA style, and avoiding plagiarism, which was a new concept for some

  • Argumentative writing, summary writing, and writing about topics for which they lacked background knowledge

Attitudes Toward English Language Writing and Writing Instruction

Of the 14 students interviewed, 8 reported that they sometimes enjoyed writing, depending on the topic, type of writing, their teacher, or whether they had too much other homework. They noted the satisfaction it brought and its importance to their future. Seven of the students indicated that they viewed writing in English as important preparation for future university-level and/or workplace writing. Two students said that they did not like writing in English at all. One commented, “I don’t enjoy writing in Arabic, so how can I enjoy writing in English?”

Emphasis on Technology

To grapple with writing challenges, students drew on teachers, classmates, friends, family, the writing center, and reference books. Additionally, one of the most salient trends we identified in the interview data related to technology. Three students mentioned using online dictionaries instead of paper dictionaries because they found them easier to use. Students used the internet to look for synonyms, receive help with spelling, check definitions, or find suitable words and phrases, either in online dictionaries, in thesauruses, or on translation websites.

The use of online translators such as Google Translate was the source of heated debate in group interviews. Students’ comments made it apparent that some of their instructors had discouraged the use of Google Translate. However, one interviewee defended this practice, asserting, “I use it a lot. How can we learn the language, new words, if [I] don’t check to see if I’m right? If we don’t use it, how can we improve?” Five students indicated in individual interviews that they used online translators, often mentioning Google Translate specifically. One student who used Google Translate cautioned that “you have to use your own knowledge” when employing it. Another student described using Google as a type of corpus tool. She said she employed Google to search for a word she was considering using to see how others had used it in various contexts on various websites. She would then decide whether the word would work well in the context of her own sentence.

Students also reported using the internet to search for sample essays, information about organizing their essays and structuring their sentences properly, and articles for research projects. They used the internet when they lacked information about an assigned topic they were writing about. For example, one student sought information about homosexuality because it is forbidden by the Koran and thus not discussed in Saudi Arabia. Another student liked to read from four or five different websites about a given topic, and then use what he read as inspiration for his own writing.

Two students mentioned the helpfulness of having online conversations with their friends. One said that conversing online with American friends helped him improve his spelling. After an individual interview, a student from the intensive English program emailed one of us about the writing practice that texting provides:

My writing became better because I have American girlfriend and I was texting or MSG her everyday every second every [minute] in English and that increase my writing very fast because when I texting I feel so happy everyday. Sometimes I forgot that English it’s my second language because I use it a lot and I think it’s my first language. Texting American girlfriend has a lot of advantages like it’s help me for my grammar, it’s help my writing become faster, it’s feeling good because I’m texting who I love her or I like her, and she can help me for my grammar too, for example when I text her something and she didn’t understand me, at that time I know my grammar is not correct, and try to correct my grammar and send her again, sometimes she correct me when I have some bad grammar in my MSG.

When asked about how they improved their writing in English, four students mentioned other uses of technology that at first did not seem to pertain directly to writing, but which may contribute to students’ overall English language proficiency and support their writing skills. These included listening to English language audio files in the car and searching for online images to aid one’s memory of words or phrases. Three students mentioned watching English language movies and television with the subtitles on. One said that the U.S. television show 24 contributed to his language development and noted, “In 24, they used academic language, formal language, no slang, when they were communicating between one office and the Oval [presidential] Office. That’s what I needed—more formal language.”


Although we knew that technology played a role in students’ writing, we did not anticipate that the students we interviewed would have so much to say about its use in their work. Students’ defense of online translators should be taken seriously, and we would do well as teachers to remember that we probably cannot keep students from using them. We might instead consider whether and how such tools might be used productively, and what cautionary words we should give our students about them. We can also instruct students in the use of corpora, perhaps explaining how students can use Google to search the web for examples of how other writers have used specific words or phrases in various contexts.

Financial Support Statement

The second author’s work on this project was funded under The International Cooperation Program for Excellent Lecturers and College ESP Writing Study Based on Practical Needs Programby the Shandong Provincial Department of Education, China, Grant No. 2012311.


Redden, E. (2016, February 25). Will Saudi boom end? Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/02/25/will-us-colleges-and-universities-see-decline-saudi-funded-students

Yang, L. (2006). Nine Chinese students writing in Canadian university courses. In A. Cumming (Ed.), Goals for academic writing: ESL students and their instructors (pp. 73–89). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.

Zawacki, T., Hajjabbasi, E., Habib, A., Antram, A., & Das, A. (2007). Valuing written accents: Non-native students talk about identity, academic writing, and meeting teachers’ expectations. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University Press.

Melinda Reichelt is professor of English at the University of Toledo, Ohio, USA, where she directs the ESL writing program and teaches courses in TESOL and linguistics. She has published her work in the Journal of Second Language Writing, World Englishes, Composition Studies, Issues in Writing, ELT Journal, Modern Language Journal, the International Journal of English Studies, Foreign Language Annals, and The WAC Journal.

Li Shucang is chair of the English Department at Qilu University of Technology, Jinan, China, where he teaches English language writing, integrated English skills, and cross-cultural communication. He has published his work in Language and Translation, The Journal of Guizhou Literature and History, and Shandong Foreign Languages Teaching.


The Motivation

Two major factors inspired the creation and ultimately the implementation of my version of observation journals. First, I noticed that my intermediate and advanced English language learners (ELLs) were spending most of their free time on their smartphones and not embracing all the valuable aspects of their host culture. I wanted them to spend more time observing and experiencing all the special elements that their host culture has to offer, both in terms of understanding the culture and using the target language. Second, I had hoped my students would practice writing on a frequent basis and use an interesting medium that would instill a sense of inspiration and joy during the writing process; that is, I wanted them to write often so as to develop a feeling of comfort and confidence (Randolph, 2012). I hoped that the project would nurture a flicker of enthusiasm for writing that would kindle itself into a comfortable and constant flame.

The Observation Journals

An observation journal entry includes a title that summarizes the observation and a reference to the kind of observation. The entry is one paragraph about an observation that consists of the following:

  • a lead-in sentence,

  • a topic sentence that explains the focus of the observation,

  • a reason that states why the content of the observation is of interest,

  • a developed example/explanation elaborating on the observation or the reason of interest, and

  • a conclusion.

(For an example entry, see the Appendix.)

I originally required my students to make one observation and write one entry per day, Monday through Friday. If they preferred, they could replace weekday observations with weekend ones. The total number of observations and entries was five. One the one hand, this met my original intention of having my students write frequently to develop confidence in their writing and make it a natural part of their daily lives. On the other hand, students complained that it was too much writing, which conflicted with my hope of making it an enjoyable and inspiring writing activity.

I needed to be careful not to make this project an added burden because I wanted it to be something that would inspire my students to engage in observations and write about them. I consequently changed my requirements from five observations per week to three. This compromise seemed to satisfy my students’ concerns and simultaneously make the project “fun” once again.

Observation Categories

To help guide my students through the process, I created five general categories for their observations:

  1. Culture-based observations (e.g., the cultural norm of one person holding the door for another)

  2. Language use–based observations (e.g., how a certain buzzword or idiom is used among friends)

  3. Classroom dynamics–based observations (e.g., students who sit in front volunteer more than those who sit in the back)

  4. Nature/environment-based observations (e.g., observing the first snowflake at dawn)

  5. Self-reflection-based observations (e.g., being aware of a particular change in emotion and realizing how it affects them). (Randolph, 2017, para. 13)


I created a grading rubric with six categories worth five points each. They are listed in Table 1 with a brief explanation of their focus.

Table 1. Rubric for Observation Journals



Content and cohesion

How well has the entry generally expressed the observation through implementing the paragraph template?

Observation focus

How well does the entry focus on the specific observation and express it clearly in the paragraph?

Development of the example and explanation

How well is the example/explanation part of the paragraph expressed?

Vocabulary use

How much class-acquired vocabulary was recycled and used?


Does the writer appear to have learned something from the observation?

Care and caution

Does the entry appear to be carefully thought out and written, or does it appear to be quickly penned in a matter of seconds?

Possible Pitfalls and Solutions

The two main problems that appeared in each of my classes were entries that either listed just a series of daily activities or listed multiple observations without any focused theme. That is, the first problem was that the entries were like common diary entries, and the second problem was that they lacked any real focus. In both cases, there was an absence of logical development or cohesiveness (Randolph, 2017).

I was able to remedy these shortcomings by addressing three important points. First, I went over the parts of the paragraph template in class, and we discussed the significance of each point. Then, as a class, we wrote up an observation entry based on one of the previous student-generated observations. This helped the students review each point and see how each part is connected to the next.

Second, I reviewed the 6-point rubric. I asked the students to pair up and analyze the importance of each one, and we discussed their responses. I wrote their insights on the board and asked that they record them in their notes. We then used the rubric to evaluate our class-composed observation entry. Going over the rubric and applying it helped the students focus on their topic and develop detailed explanations.

For added reinforcement and to make sure the same mistakes were not repeated, I reviewed the major pitfalls by listing them on the board. We then discussed how they could be avoided (Randolph, 2017). The students were quick to respond by explaining the need to follow the directions regarding the paragraph template and the need to be aware of the demands of the rubric.

Student Responses

In the spring term of 2017, I conducted a survey that asked my students from the three writing classes what they thought of the observation journals (N=41). The first question was Did you enjoy the observation journal project? I was delighted to discover that the majority of the students did in fact find it a worthwhile activity. Of the nine surveys completed in my intermediate class, eight students reported that they liked the project, and one student reported he or she did not like it. This student gave no reason why he or she did not enjoy the project. I also collected surveys from the two sections of my advanced writing course. In the first section, 15 said they enjoyed it, and two stated that they did not. The second section included 12 students who liked the project and three who did not. Interestingly enough, the five students who reported that they did not like it gave the same reasons: They thought the observations took too much time, and they did not like writing in English. Overall, though, the majority of the students found the project to be very useful and enjoyable.

In a different survey I distributed at the end of the term, I asked my students about their general impression of the project (N=46). Twenty-four students reported that the project motivated them to be more open and aware of the special moments and the “details” in their daily lives. Twenty-one students reported that the journals actually helped to “enhance” the “quality” of their lives. And 23 students felt that they developed more confidence in their writing and were able to understand how parts of the paragraph connect with each other (Randolph, 2017, para. 30).


I often tell my wife and our 5-year-old daughter that there is no such thing as boredom; there is far too much going on in our lives to observe and investigate for such a state to exist. By implementing the observation journals in my writing classes, my ELLs are slowly starting to realize the truth about our reality; that is, it is void of boredom. As my students develop and sharpen their observation skills and start to see the precious, simple things in life, they also develop and sharpen their ability to record these moments and insights in their journals. Our life offers a myriad of unique gifts on an hourly basis. The challenge, then, is to get our students to become and be aware of them through observations and then write about them with a sense of awe, excitement, and comfort.


Randolph, P. T. (2017). Observation journals: Inspiring ELLs to embrace a life worth living. CATESOL News, 48(4).

Randolph, P. T. (2012). Using creative writing as a bridge to enhance academic writing. In J. M. Perren, K. M. Losey, D. O. Perren, J. Popko, A. Piippo, & L. Gallo (Eds.), New horizons: Striding into the future: Selected Proceedings of the 2011 Michigan Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Conference (pp. 91–108). Lansing, MI: Michigan Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Appendix: Sample Observation Journal Entry

Holding Doors for Others, Opening Doors of Kindness—A Culture-Based Observation

When one person holds a door for another, it not only helps the person in need, but it builds a sense of compassion and gratitude among both people. My favorite observation today was when I watched a young woman, who appeared to be in a hurry, actually stop and hold the library door for a stranger who had both hands full of books and a book bag. This interested me because the woman who held the door was in a hurry, but she took the time to be kind and patient with what appeared to be a complete stranger. I liked how the young man (the stranger) smiled and said, “Oh, wow! Thank you!” Then, he looked at the young woman. She smiled at him before disappearing down the hall. This would rarely happen in my own culture because people really only watch out for themselves. However, here, on the Nebraska campus, I see people hold the door for others all the time. But, today’s observation was special because I could feel a sense of humanity between the two people. In sum, I felt that the woman not only held the door for the man, but she also opened a door of kindness. Her actions said, “Look, I’m busy, in a hurry, but I want to offer you a helping hand to make the day a little brighter.”

Patrick T. Randolph currently teaches at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he specializes in vocabulary acquisition, creative and academic writing, speech, and debate. Patrick was recently awarded the “Best of the TESOL Affiliates” in 2017 for his 2016 presentation on plagiarism. This is his second “Best of the TESOL Affiliates” award. He lives with his wife, Gamze; daughter, Aylene; and cat, Gable, in Lincoln, Nebraska.


I am currently a writing MFA student at the University of New Hampshire. As the only nonnative-English-speaking student and one of the few minorities in my degree program, I often feel discouraged participating in American creative writing workshops. English is my third language (Mandarin is my second language)1,and it is challenging for me to write in English like a native speaker. One of the comments I received in a writing workshop was, “To help your writing move to the next level, you better correct your grammar.” Vocabulary and grammar also limit my desire and ability as a second language writer to reach my audience.

I feel particularly troubled to write for an American audience who does not share the same educational, historical, and sociocultural backgrounds as me. For instance, my background is collectivist and family oriented. Though the American audience for my writing is not a monolithic group, Americans tend to be more individualistic. We also have different concerns and perspectives on life events. The language that I use in my writing and the approaches that I use to reach the main points in my writing are often different from common rhetorical patterns in American writing. Therefore, the flow and the style of my writing may seem awkward to an American audience. It is also hard to convey what I am saying when we do not have common knowledge and shared life experience.

Challenges I Have Faced

“Tell what you think, that is it,” an American classmate said.

Certainly it was very easy for them to do so—“Tell what they think” in their mother language, but it was never easy for me to “tell what I think” in my third language. At first, it seemed that this was because my English oral skills were not that good, and I was too intimidated to speak in class. Because of that, my professor encouraged me to take a bridge-level English speaking class. However, later I found that the reasons behind this issue were more complex. In my past educational experience, we learned English mostly through reading rather than writing. It was more about passing the standardized tests than speaking the language fluently. I was from an educational setting where I was supposed to stay silent. There were no workshops, and students did not need to give feedback to each other or speak in class.

In addition, American creative writing workshops are usually focused on craftsmanship and a set of writing techniques such as voice, character development, stories, situation, and showing rather than telling. The last technique, showing rather than telling, promotes the art of developing the characters and plot through scenes and dialogue and discourages the authors from directly expressing their thoughts and feelings. For instance, in one of my writings, I tried not only to show the scenes that my father killed our dog and beat my brother in public after my family was publicly humiliated, but also to tell the complexities of the situation—my father wanted to do something good for his son who has Down Syndrome but was caught in a culture that failed individuals with disabilities. However, it seemed the desire not just to show, but to tell was not encouraged in the workshops when I tried to express my feelings and thoughts that involved the complexities of society, culture, and the system. “Show, don’t tell” is the most common constructive comment that I have received from my American classmates.

Finally, I wonder whether creative writing in a second language is more than the art of writing strategies. Sometimes, I feel uncomfortable when I see readers and writers who place themselves in a superior position and morally judge right or wrong without understanding the sociocultural reasons behind the stories. For example, the spirit of Japanese samurai and the act of killing dogs seem foreign, weird, and wrong to Americans. It is hard to express traditional and sociocultural differences without telling because it is hard to show. When I “show” it, they measure it by putting themselves in the situation with their own cultural feelings and opinions, without any relation to its history or understanding of the culture.

Overcoming Difficulties

I took a TESOL class in the spring. It was designed to provide some basic insights into the process of language acquisition, along with an introduction to the approaches and methods that have been or are being used to teach languages in various circumstances. In that class, I gained some very valuable and inspiring perspectives that my cultural knowledge could be my strengths as a second language writer. In this class, I gained the courage to talk to my professors about my struggles and open up about my feelings. I was so surprised when my professors said that they appreciated my presence in the workshop and my cultural perspective. Though I received critical comments on what I have to improve in my writing, I also got compliments on my voice and my stories. I started gaining confidence when I realized that my minority background as a nonnative-English-speaking student is not only my constraint, but also my strength. That is, I can apply my cultural perspective to my writing. Moreover, I immersed myself in reading minority writers’ work and learned to seek my voice while writing to an American audience like they did in their work. As the saying goes, “Read more, write more.” 

1I didn’t learn Mandarin until I went to school at age 6. I am from Hainan Island, China. People speak more than 10 dialects on this island. My native language is “军话” (pinyin: jun hua; the literal translation is “military dialect,” the standard language in the military during the Ming Dynasty), and it is one of the extinct languages in China. It doesn’t have a written form. It’s entirely oral.

Guifang Xue is a current writing MFA student, and she is the only nonnative English speaker in her degree program. Before coming to the United States, Guifang had work experience as an English teacher and translator. Now she is seeking her voice in her writing as a second language writer.


Yong-Jik Lee

Tuba Yilmaz

As a result of an ever-increasing number of English language learners (ELLs) in the school system, mainstream teachers in the United States are expected to work with ELLs and differentiate instruction based on diverse student learning needs. However, many teachers in the United States are not effectively prepared to teach ELLs in mainstream classrooms. For this reason, educating preservice teachers with English as a second language (ESL) teacher education and coursework is a critical issue (de Jong, 2014).

Flipped learning has emerged as an innovative teaching approach through which teachers can develop effective teaching strategies, such as efficient use of class time, flexible instruction with a learning management system, and meaningful interactions between students and teachers (Goodwin & Miller, 2013). However, the flipped learning approach has not been fully explored in preservice teacher ESL teacher education (Egbert, Herman, & Lee, 2015). To respond to this call, the study discussed in this article aims to explore how the flipped learning approach encourages elementary preservice teachers to develop their pedagogical skills in teaching writing to ELLs.

Statement of the Problem

A flipped learning approach was implemented in an ESL methods course that prepares elementary preservice ESL teachers for endorsement in a teacher education program. Students in the course were undergraduates who majored in elementary education. Traditionally, the course consisted of face-to-face instruction with some support through learning management software Canvas as an online component. In this regard, the instructor, the second author of this paper (Yilmaz), aimed to create a more authentic and interactive learning environment for preservice teachers so that they could reflect on what they had learned from the course readings during in-class activities. Yilmaz especially tried to develop preservice teachers’ skills for teaching writing to ELLs because focusing on their literacy skills, such as writing development, is key for their academic success (Aguirre-Muñoz, Park, Amabisca, & Boscardin, 2009).

Research Design

The study was conducted in a large, public university located in the southeast region of the United States in the fall 2016 semester. The data sources consisted of preservice teachers’ reflections (n=38), the course instructor’s individual interview (n=1), and 19 recorded videos from ESL microteaching activities. The interview data were analyzed using thematic analysis. The first author, Lee, read Yilmaz’s written narratives and created general and specific codes that emerged in the data.

Implementation of a Flipped Learning Approach

To implement the flipped classroom approach, Yilmaz designed her class in a way that allowed preservice teachers an opportunity to reflect on what they had learned from course materials in a collaborative and student-centered learning environment. Table 1 shows the design of the flipped learning approach used in this study.

Table 1. The Process of Flipped Learning

Three Stages

Students’ Activities



Before class (at home)

Reading the assigned materials and watching online videos through Canvas

Evaluation of the online quizzes that are about the readings and the videos

1 hour

In class

1. Asking questions and participating in discussions about the content

2. Modifying their lesson plans by adding language objectives and differentiating instruction

3. Implementing their lesson plans as microteachings

Informal assessment: Active participation

Formal assessment:

Evaluation of microteachings with the microteaching rubric

2.5 hours

After class

Posting reflection after microteaching experience in Canvas: online discussion activity

Informal assessment: Evaluation of the microteaching lesson plans and the reflections after microteaching

30 minutes

Before Class

Preservice teachers read assigned reading materials before class. In addition, they watched the assigned instructional videos that were uploaded to Canvas. The videos focused on developing ESL-specific pedagogical skills in terms of promoting ELLs’ literacy skills, such as vocabulary, reading, and writing instruction. The videos were approximately 20–30 minutes long. After reading the materials and watching the videos, through Canvas, preservice teachers took 10-question online quizzes to check their comprehension. The quiz took about 20 minutes. These before-class activities and assessment methods aimed to encourage preservice teachers to come to the class well prepared.

In Class

At the beginning of class, Yilmaz revisited quiz questions to clarify preservice teachers’ misunderstanding and misconceptions of reading materials and online video content. This activity took 10–20 minutes in each flipped classroom. Then, she conducted collaborative activities for about 40 minutes to promote preservice teachers’ critical thinking and higher order thinking skills. For instance, she asked preservice teachers to modify, in pairs, one of their preplanned lesson plans and add language objectives that aimed to develop ELLs’ writing skills. In the second half of class, students performed 10-minute microteachings of their lesson plans in pairs. Five coteachers were asked to conduct microteaching in each microteaching session.

After Class

After class, Yilmaz encouraged the coteachers to reflect on their microteaching experiences. By using the online discussion forum in Canvas, they wrote two to three paragraphs for their reflections. The guiding questions for reflections included identifying what the main goal of teaching writing for ELLs was, how they felt their teaching went, and how they collaborated to plan microteachings. The guiding questions also included what they did well in terms of ESL writing accommodation strategies and what needed to be improved. Then, the preservice teachers who did not perform microteaching in that microteaching session were asked to respond to these reflection postings on Canvas. In this way, they could exchange ideas to improve their pedagogical skills for writing. After each microteaching activity, Yilmaz provided feedback to the teaching groups using a specifically designed rubric.

Data Analysis

Preliminary data analysis suggested that the flipped classroom approach not only provided opportunities for preservice teachers to plan and demonstrate their skills for teaching writing to ELLs but also created an avenue for the instructor to provide feedback. Through various in-class activities, such as modifying lesson plans and performing microteachings, preservice teachers learned strategies for teaching writing by observing their peers' microteaching. They also received more opportunities to demonstrate their teaching skills with appropriate accommodations. The analysis further suggested that the preservice teachers received valuable experience to prepare them for applying theory from the ESL coursework to practice through a flipped classroom approach.

Final Reflections

This article aims to illustrate how an implementation of a flipped learning approach in an ESL methods course influences preservice teachers’ skills in teaching writing. Based on our pilot study, we provide some suggestions for implementing the flipped classroom in ESL teacher education courses.

  1. Start by flipping only a small part of your class (a pilot study is critical): To reduce trial and error, research recommends that faculty members flip a small portion of the semester first, not the entire semester (Cockrum, 2014). In this study, Yilmaz started by flipping one class to gauge students' reactions and responses. She focused on teaching writing only because one of the main goals of this course was to provide ample opportunities for preservice teachers to practice their pedagogical skills for teaching literacy to ELLs.

  2. Gather data from your students regarding their satisfaction with the flipped mode (surveys or questionnaires): We recommended that the instructors who want to flip the classroom create their own surveys or questionnaires to understand preservice teachers’ flipped classroom experiences.

  3. Utilize an online discussion forum to promote students’ higher order thinking skills (reflective teaching and thinking): Based on students’ responses, the instructor can decide whether he or she should expand the number of flipped classrooms. Furthermore, it is important to utilize the online discussion forum through a learning management system to promote students’ critical thinking skills.


Aguirre-Muñoz, Z., Park, J. E., Amabisca, A., & Boscardin, C. K. (2009). Developing teacher capacity for serving ELLs' writing instructional needs: A case for systemic functional linguistics. Bilingual Research Journal, 31(1-2), 295–322.

Cockrum, T. (2014). Flipping your English class to reach all learners: Strategies and lesson plans. New York, NY: Routledge.

de Jong, E. J. (2014). Preparing mainstream teachers for multilingual classrooms. Association of Mexican American Educators Journal, 7(2), 40–49.

Egbert, J., Herman, D., & Lee, H. (2015). Flipped instruction in English language teacher education: A design-based study in a complex, open-ended learning environment. TESL-EJ, 19(2).

Goodwin, B., & Miller, K. (2013). Evidence on flipped classrooms is still coming in. Educational Leadership, 70(6), 78–80.

Yong-Jik Lee is a PhD candidate focusing in ESOL/bilingual education. His research interests include preservice teachers’ ESOL field experience and implementing flipped learning in preservice teachers’ ESOL teacher education.

Tuba Yilmaz is a PhD candidate in ESOL/bilingual education at the University of Florida, Gainesville, where she works as a teaching assistant and field advisor. Her research focuses on translanguaging, boundary crossing, language anxiety, bilingual education, language policy and revitalization, and ELL teacher preparation.



Graduate Student: Hadi Banat, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Where are you from, and what are you studying?

I am originally Palestinian but have not had a chance to visit the land of my ancestors yet. I was born in Lebanon in 1982 and lived there most of my life. I finished my BA and MA degrees in English language from the American University of Beirut, an institution that gave me abundant opportunities to grow. In 2006, I moved to the United Arab Emirates and worked as a faculty member at the University of Sharjah, where I taught English for Academic Purposes English for specific purposes, public speaking, and communication skills. In the 2015–2016 academic year, I started to pursue my PhD in second language studies at Purdue University. I do connect to different places I have lived in and visited, but “home” is where my family and friends reside.

What is an “a-ha moment” you experienced recently in either teaching or research?

When I arrived at Purdue, I was not in a hurry to discover my research niche as a graduate student because I was keen on taking coursework from both disciplines (i.e., second language studies and composition studies) in order to expose myself to a variety of theories and research directions. Naturally and gradually, I found myself more attentive to the needs of international students at institutions in the United States. Purdue, an institution of prominent international student presence, triggered my interest in transculturation to promote diversity and inclusion of all student populations on our campus. My passion for writing studies made me think in an interdisciplinary manner, and I could not find a more suitable context than the writing classroom to initiate transculturation. Finding a research direction is quite a compelling moment because it is a mixture of triumph, excitement, and relief.

What in second language writing research excites you right now?

I am interested in the connections between second language studies and rhetoric and composition. Right now my colleagues and I are conducting a three-semester research study (spring 2017, fall and spring 2018) in First Year Writing classes of domestic and international students to determine how writing curricula and pedagogy influence the development of undergraduate students’ intercultural competence, thus measuring the effects of transculturation.

Could you share one way research informs your teaching?

I am collecting extensive data from the transculturation project I am currently working on. I will analyze the content of four major course projects to examine participants’ interactions with multicultural and writing instruction, in addition to data from reflective journals and end-of-semester interviews. The data will facilitate germane intervention to maximize opportunities for effective pedagogy in this context and will subsequently inform the curriculum design of future introductory composition classes at Purdue and other institutions interested in this approach to teaching First Year Writing.

Elena Shvidko is an assistant professor in ESL at the Department of Languages, Philosophy, and Communication Studies at Utah State University. Her research interests include second language writing, multimodal interaction, and interpersonal aspects of teaching.

Hadi Banat is a third-year PhD student in second language studies at Purdue University. He teaches First Year Writing and tutors in the Writing Center. He is currently serving as the Writing across the Curriculum (WAC) coordinator of the Writing Center.


Graduate Student: Kelly J. Cunningham, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA

Where are you from, and what are you studying?

I’m originally from Connecticut, but before coming to Iowa State, I did my MA in the Chicago suburbs and taught ESL [English as a second language] in the area for about 7 years. I am currently a PhD candidate in the applied linguistics & technology and human-computer interaction programs at Iowa State University. Most recently I have been using appraisal analysis (an off-shoot of systemic functional linguistics) to see how modes of technology (MS Word comments and screencast video) change the language of ESL writing feedback on an interpersonal level.

What is an “a-ha moment” you experienced recently in either teaching or research?

During an interview on screencast and written feedback, a student said that they thought the written feedback was better for fixing and video was better for understanding. It was nice to see this emerge on its own from the student directly in the way students perceive the modes. I mean, it makes sense and even seems somewhat obvious. It actually aligns well with my linguistic analysis. It also underlies to some degree why I try to refrain from saying things such as, “Feedback A is better.” In making choices and recommendations, it is typically much more complicated and always tied to a number of parameters—better for what? For whom? In what context? What do we even mean by better?

What in second language (L2) research excites you right now?

The expanded opportunities and perspectives offered by incorporating biometrics and user experience (UX) techniques to develop more nuanced understandings of and support for L2 writing are exciting and seem to have a lot of potential. I think increasing UX perspectives can give us more contextual, multifaceted student- and instructor-centered views in L2 research overall. I have only really dabbled in biometrics, but I would like to do more in the future. We have seen eye tracking of experts in other fields to differ from novices and that it can be used in training. I think we will see different types of biofeedback used for training and feedback in more personalized approaches to both L2 writing and language learning.

I am also excited by the recent growth in graduate student writing support, which is another area I work in. The Consortium on Graduate Communication has been helpful for getting to see what others are up to in this area. In regards to graduate writing support, I am most interested in graduate peer review groups because that is the program I coordinate at my university and where I have the most experience. I am interested in what makes them sustainable and valuable for students. I am also interested in how graduate writing, communication, and language support and review group membership affects identity development, especially disciplinary, career, and intersectional identities.

I think the large-scale cross-disciplinary partnerships we are seeing with projects like Corpus & Repository of Writing (CROW) are really exciting. There is a lot of potential and mutual benefit in bringing together professionals from different areas and we could do more in this area. How would having a user researcher, a rhetorician, a developer, a sociologist, an identity scholar, an ethnographer, an industrial engineer, etc. on your team bring a new perspective to your project? Who else on your campus or beyond might be interested in an extension of your work that you could have join you from the beginning? Additionally, how can we transform more research into tools and interesting accessible, preferably interactive formats?

Could you share one way research informs your teaching?

A lot of my current work is about understanding potential impacts of technology or language in order to enable informed choices from a wider array of possible resources. I do that through systematic analysis of language, like my appraisal analysis of feedback, but also by thinking about and investigating how people interact with systems.

With the tools and language we use, we have to consider how they are being used, the context they are being used in, what our goals are and that even when having all of that information, we still have choices. In teaching, I can translate research, knowledge, and experience to help students build up enough of a background to make an informed choice and to expand their array of choices. That might take the form of helping them expand their language resources and contextual knowledge for applying them, new researchers expanding their methodological choices, or teachers expanding their kit of pedagogical tools. I can ask them questions about what it is they want to accomplish to help them think about things they might want to consider in making that choice. This is something I do all the time in facilitating graduate peer review groups where students give on-the-spot verbal feedback on work in progress and something that I see as underlying my teaching and the feedback I give on work.

Additionally, my work with appraisal has alluded to the importance of instructor perspectives on language and language learners for feedback. In working with instructors, I would like to pull in this kind of work to help instructors become more aware of their own philosophies and attitudes in these areas and how they might affect feedback and, ultimately, students.

Elena Shvidko is an assistant professor in ESL at the Department of Languages, Philosophy, and Communication Studies at Utah State University. Her research interests include second language writing, multimodal interaction, and interpersonal aspects of teaching.

Kelly J Cunningham is a PhD candidate with co-majors in applied linguistics & technology and human-computer interaction at Iowa State University where she is finishing up her dissertation on how mode impacts the language of technology-mediated screencast and text feedback in ESL Writing. She also coordinates Graduate Peer Review Groups for the Graduate College’s Center for Communication Excellence, manages a School of Education research group working on projects related to identity development of women, and co-teaches an advanced qualitative research methods class in the Research & Evaluation department.


Graduate Student: Joseph Wilson, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

Where are you from, and what are you studying?

An Illinois native, I am a master’s student in the Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I originally moved to Tennessee to pursue a BA in English literature and a BS in ESL education at Johnson University. This allowed me to study immigrant and refugee narratives alongside contemporary research in second language (L2) studies. After teaching English to resident L2 learners in Tennessee and to university students in China, I decided to further my education at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in order to research theory, ethics, and practices germane to second language learners. While pursuing my MA, I have constructed an identity specifically as an L2 writing teacher/researcher through coursework and research on L2 writing issues and after attending the Symposium on Second Language Writing in 2016. I am particularly interested in scholarship at the interface of the field of L2 writing and writing program administration, and I currently serve as the assistant director of ESL [English as a second language] at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and as a teaching assistant in the composition program.

What is an “a-ha moment” you experienced recently in either teaching or research?

During the symposium, I attended a panel in which Dr. Chris Casanave pressed a room of L2 writing specialists to propose a definition of the term bilingual writer. I struggled myself to come up with a solid definition, particularly one that does not fossilize the imagined native versus nonnative speaker binary that often circumscribes multilingual writers of all proficiency levels. I also began to consider how my own teaching practices reinforce nativeness as an (elusive) goal. Although I haven’t yet found a replacement for the term bilingual or even the term multilingual, I have reshaped my teaching practices. Recently, I have been developing a genre-based cross-cultural composition course that encourages L1 and L2 students to gain awareness and knowledge of new writing genres collaboratively, and I hope that this class will work toward bridging the L1 and L2 divide common in first-year composition settings.

What in L2 writing research excites you right now?

I am particularly excited about research and theory related to L2 writing teacher identity, genre studies, and ESL writing program administration. As specialists have often noted (Matsuda, 2013, 2017), the field of L2 writing is incredibly dynamic because its specialists are situated in a variety of disciplines such as TESOL, rhetoric and composition, education, and applied linguistics. I am currently interested in the ways that L2 writing specialists construct their identities in relation to our field.

At the interface of L2 writing and writing program administration, I am also working with my advisor, Dr. Tanita Saenkhum, in a research assistantship to consider how placement procedures for incoming L2 writers can be assessed on a continual basis. Of particular interest is research that considers multilingual student perceptions of placement procedures in addition to test scores and retention rates.

Could you share one way L2 writing research informs your teaching?

At a foundational level, L2 writing research has allowed me to cultivate a greater sensitivity toward the needs of multilingual writers, as well as myriad tools for adapting my teaching practices to meet those needs. My current project on assessing university placement procedures, for example, has illuminated the ways that an institution’s placement options for multilingual writers inform the curriculum of its composition courses and communicate a program’s values to all relevant stakeholders. I have found that these insights translate well into the classroom itself, and I have worked to design syllabi and rubrics that enhance student agency, explicitly delineate my expectations, and abstain from allowing mechanical errors to dominate my written and spoken feedback on students’ writing. I have also found that student perceptions are critical to assessing placement, and I have worked to create opportunities for constructive dialogue with my students both inside and outside of the classroom.


Matsuda, P. K. (2013). Response: What is second language writing—and why does it matter? Journal of Second Language Writing, 12(2), 51–179.

Matsuda, P. K. (2017). Second language writing teacher identity. In G. Barkhuizen (Ed.), Reflections on teacher identity research (pp. 215–222). New York, NY: Routledge.

Elena Shvidko is an assistant professor in ESL at the Department of Languages, Philosophy, and Communication Studies at Utah State University. Her research interests include second language writing, multimodal interaction, and interpersonal aspects of teaching.

Joseph Wilson is an MA student at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, specializing in L2 writing. His research areas include writing program administration for multilingual writers, genre and discourse studies, and teacher identity. He currently serves as the assistant director of the English Department's ESL Writing Program and teaches first-year composition.



Flowerdew, J., & Costley, T. (2017). Discipline-specific writing: Theory into practice. Abington, England: Routledge. 232 pages, paperback.

Supporting students in writing in a specific discipline, for example in engineering or business, through offering a specialized writing course is quite common in academia. However, developing and teaching a discipline-specific course might be a rather daunting and challenging task for language instructors. Discipline-Specific Writing: Theory Into Practice (2017), edited by John Flowerdew and Tracey Costley, offers practical ideas grounded in research from leading professionals in the field to provide support for course developers and teachers. Students taking courses in the areas of applied linguistics, teaching English as a foreign or second language, or English for specific purposes (ESP) will also benefit from reading this book. Each of the 12 chapters that follow the introduction comprises the theoretical discussion of a method or approach followed by a specific practical application of the research in pedagogy. Chapters end with discussion questions and activities to engage readers in creating connections to their own teaching contexts.

In Chapter 1, the editors provide the background to the book by defining discipline-specificity in its relation to writing, genre, and ESP, and introduce the continuous Curriculum Cycle framework. This framework, which consists of the main areas of consideration and stages involved in discipline-specific writing course development, outlines key curriculum components that are further discussed in detail in the rest of the book. Chapter 2 opens the discussion of discipline-specific writing by explaining how a discourse-based approach might be useful in conducting needs analysis for teaching undergraduate and graduate discipline-specific courses. Richard Forest and Tracy Davis provide readers with a toolkit for examining local institutional and sociocultural contexts and their discipline-specific practices, as the appropriateness of assignments and materials largely depends on institutional norms.

The next stage in the Curriculum Cycle, course design, is discussed by Helen Basturkmen in Chapter 3. She focuses on the dichotomy of writing for general and specific academic purposes and provides key considerations for selecting an appropriate level of specificity while designing a writing course. The detailed description of the curriculum design process at the end of the chapter provides readers with an insider view of the activities involved in course development. Moving to specific components of a course, Lindsay Miller and Jack Richards (Chapter 4) concentrate on integrating grammar in academic writing courses by outlining 12 key principles and exemplifying their implementation based on an English for Science course. The integration of another important component, vocabulary, is discussed by Averil Coxhead in Chapter 5, who offers practical suggestions on how to choose appropriate vocabulary, integrate it in the curriculum, develop materials, and provide feedback and assessment.

Frequently referred to in previous chapters, the genre-based approach to teaching academic writing is examined in Chapter 6, where Sunny Hyon provides a sequence of six activities that allows instructors to introduce the notion of genre and offer practice to students in terms of recognition, production, and evaluation of genre features. The genre-based approach is also influential in the next four chapters, which focus on specific disciplines. Jean Parkinson in Chapter 7 explores the peculiarities of teaching a laboratory report for science and technology, providing an example of teaching this genre through the rhetorical move analysis. In Chapter 8, Damian Fitzpatrick and Tracey Costley focus on writing in the social sciences and how annotated bibliographies can provide writers with more effective engagement with sources. Writing for business is examined in Chapter 9, where Julio Gimenez discusses the results of ethnographic research about how students and faculty members conceptualize writing. The research informed the design of seven text-oriented activities presented at the end of the chapter. Finally, in Chapter 10, John Flowerdew and Simon Ho Wang address teaching writing for publication, revealing students’ perceptions on learning through exploring genres, registers, textual mentors, and language reuse.

From the genre-based approach, the volume transitions to the discussion of other methods applied in discipline-specific writing courses. In Chapter 11, Laurence Anthony discusses the data-driven learning (DDL) approach, which is based on learners’ use of the target corpora. Available corpora and concordance tools, as well as the example of DDL implementation in teaching biography writing for STEM students, provide readers with a comprehensive summary of the DDL method. In the next chapter, Christian Chun focuses on the critical literacy approach, which allows learners to view writing as a representation of social relationships, power, and identity. Using an example from a business communication class, Chun presents how the critical literacy approach can be implemented in discipline-specific writing instruction. Chapter 13 concludes this volume with the discussion of assessment by Jane Lockwood, who after providing findings of previous research on assessment in ESP turns to the detailed description of the postentry assessment for first-year undergraduate students, allowing readers to examine the activities that accompany test development.

Although only several main approaches and examples of discipline-specific writing are included in this volume, given limited space Discipline-Specific Writing: Theory Into Practice is a comprehensive and quite exhaustive guide to developing and teaching discipline writing courses. The main advantage of this book is that general theoretical principles in every chapter are supported through specific examples derived from English as a second or foreign language contexts in different geographical locations. The implementation of approaches in diverse contexts demonstrates that the edited volume is relevant for practitioners throughout the world. Also, the activities and tasks reflect a student-centered approach to teaching that allows writers to be in charge of their learning and develop critical analysis skills. The effective structure of the book and the chapter progression that walks readers through every stage of the Curriculum Cycle provides invaluable information for both novice and experienced discipline-specific writing practitioners.

Tetyana Bychkovska, who received her master’s degree in applied linguistics from Ohio University, currently serves as the Writing Center ESL specialist at George Mason University. She is interested in second language academic writing, corpus linguistics, and English for specific purposes.


Candlin, C., Crompton, P., & Hatim, B. (2016). Academic writing step by step: A research-based approach. Sheffield, England: Equinox. 207 pages, paperback.

Academic Writing Step by Step: A Research-Based Approach is notable for being the last materials project of the late Chris Candlin, a true giant in the discipline of applied linguistics, and his two writing collaborators, Peter Crompton and Basil Hatim, who are based at the American University of Sharjah. As befitting the many and varied interests of its creator, the work is suitably ambitious, promising on its back cover to “use a new methodology for teaching academic writing, informed by discourse analysis, genre theory and by recent research in text analysis.” To fly such distinct methodological colors marks a promising beginning and entices the reader to explore further.

From a cursory glance, however, the format of the book appears similar to many other titles in the crowded world of university-preparation materials. Each of the 10 chapters cluster around short, research-based articles, mostly from the “popular” sciences area. These authentic texts have been chosen to illustrate and practice the sequential processes involved in reading, developing ideas, vocabulary, and grammar prior to writing a research-based academic paper. In practice, this means that each chapter addresses a key writing requirement of research-based papers and teaches writing skills using a range of discourse-based learning activities. Where the book could be said to depart from the standard approach is in its hybrid methodology. Using discourse analysis techniques sourced from both English for specific purposes and systemic functional linguistics, it unpacks for its readers how argumentatively based academic texts are created.

Despite the publisher’s claim that this resource is suitable for a range of teaching and self-study contexts, the work is clearly designed for use as a textbook in a semester-long course of study at the preuniversity or, possibly, first-year university level. In this regard, I believe it would work well with each of the 10 units providing enough content for at least 5 hours of work for a high-level class.

Examining one chapter in depth (Unit F: The Critique and the Persuasive Synthesis), I note the attention to detail when building context for the focus reading about daydreaming. Less awe-inspiring is paragraph analysis based on multiple-choice questions before a slightly jarring mix of grammar areas in the “Grammar in Context” section (conditional clauses and ellipsis). The following “Text Organization” section is more valuable and deconstructs the argumentative reading by identifying the components and functions of sections of the chosen text. The final section of the chapter focuses on writing a persuasive synthesis, which is another critical skill but one I felt was a little rushed through.

Academic Writing Step by Step: A Research-Based Approach works well as a staged, thoughtful treatise on how research-based academic papers are put together on many levels. The layout of each chapter is clear, and the focus on promoting functional awareness of textual elements is especially welcome. Also, one of the longer units on “Logos, Ethos, Pathos and Logical Fallacies” gives new insights about how to teach these notoriously slippery concepts in a learner- and teacher-friendly way. In the final unit, the book culminates in an extended piece on the development of a draft student paper, working through structural issues and the sequencing of information for an essay on the topic of animal experimentation before presenting a final, very usefully annotated, long model text.

Without a doubt, the book’s chapters provide readers with very useful guidance on writing skills, such as summarizing, synthesizing, and persuading readers. However, because of its heavy reliance on textual sources, it is crucial to choose appropriate texts. This, I feel, is one area where there could have been some potential to extend beyond the popular science–type articles the authors have selected. Whereas texts from sources like Newsweek and The Guardian are indeed appealing and accessible to readers at the level targeted by the authors, I believe other more traditional academic readings could have been introduced into the work to provide a more textually vibrant mix. In saying this, I acknowledge the line between quality journalism and academic writing may not always be so clear and is increasingly blurred. I also felt the repetition of the topic area of animal experimentation throughout, although potentially reassuring for student writers for scaffolding purposes, is an area that would not work so well with students from some cultural and disciplinary backgrounds.

Overall, Academic Writing Step by Step: A Research-Based Approach is a valuable work and will work well as a class textbook, particularly in preuniversity English for academic purposes courses. As such, it offers a lasting tribute to one of its creators, Chris Candlin.

Steven Thurlow is a PhD candidate and academic skills adviser at The University of Melbourne, Australia. He has worked in the fields of teaching English for academic purposes and academic skills advising, both in Australia and internationally, since 1999. His research interests include writer’s voice and examining the intersections between academic and creative writing.



SLW News
is soliciting articles on second language writing theory, research, and pedagogy in all ESL/EFL settings.

SLW News welcomes articles that focus on L2 writers and characteristics and text features, classroom materials and practices, placement and assessment issues, writing program administration, teacher development, and other related areas. SLW News encourages submissions related to any educational setting, especially traditionally underrepresented contexts (preK–12, 2-year colleges, community programs, international K–12 schools, etc.). In light of the newsletter’s electronic format, authors are encouraged to include hyperlinks.


30 June for the October issue and 10 January for the March issue.

General Submission Guidelines

Articles should

  • be no longer than 1,750 words (including the 50-word abstract, tables, bios, and references);

  • contain no more than five citations;

  • include a 50-word (maximum 500 characters) abstract and two- to three-sentence author biography;

  • be accompanied by an author photo (.jpg);

  • follow the style guidelines in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition (APA style); and

  • be in an MS Word (.doc/.docx) document.

All tables, graphs, and other images should be submitted as separate .jpg files.

Please direct your submissions and questions to

Ilka Kostka and Elena Shvidko, SLW News Managing Editors

E-mail: slwisnewsletter@gmail.com

See below for more information concerning book reviews and submissions related to specific topics and contexts.

Action Research Projects

SLW News welcomes summaries of classroom-based action research projects. Submissions should include a discussion of the following items:

  • statement of the problem

  • research design

  • proposed solutions

  • analysis of results

  • final reflections

Please include any relevant classroom materials that emerged from the research.

Book/Media Reviews

SLW News welcomes reviews of teacher resource books and student texts dealing with second language writing, teaching, research, and administration. Anyone interested in writing a review for SLW News may choose a recently published book in the field and contact the editor for approval and review copies. Reviews will be considered for publication based on the quality of the reviewer’s evaluation and description of the book as well as the book’s relevance and importance to the field.

Reviews should

  • be in APA format,

  • be 600–900 words in length, and

  • include a 50-word (maximum 500 characters) abstract and a two- to three-sentence author biography.

CALL Submissions

SLW News welcomes CALL-related articles, announcements, reports, and reviews in the following categories:

  • Software/Hardware (e.g., organizing systems or integrating software/hardware in learning environments to enhance writing instruction, assessment, or program evaluation)

  • Materials Design (e.g., using software such as Flash or MonoConc to design language-learning activities or materials that address specific language-learning goals, including discovery activities, practice exercises, storybooks, quizzes, or games)

  • Curriculum Design (e.g., using course management software such as Blackboard or eCollege to design e-courses, e-programs, or hybrids for second language writing)

  • Applied Writing Research (e.g., writing computer programs to identify lexicogrammatical features, discourse patterns, or errors/learner variation in writing, i.e., corpus linguistics)

EFL Submissions

SLW News welcomes submissions focusing on EFL contexts. Topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • statements of instructional problems

  • summaries of research

  • literature reviews with pedagogical implications

  • book/media reviews

  • lesson plans

  • handouts and activity sheets

  • proposed joint research projects

In order to ensure diversity of interest and coverage of as many areas of instruction in the field of EFL writing as possible, SLW News encourages submissions on the following themes:

  • university writing classrooms

  • pre-K–12 writing instruction

  • learner communities in the writing classroom

  • computers and the Internet in the writing classroom

  • writing for tests (e.g., TOEFL, IELTS)

  • technical writing as a genre in the EFL context

  • EFL writing instructors’ professional development

Writing Center Submissions

Given that many ESL/EFL students need (and want) more individualized or in-depth assistance with their writing than instructors can understandably provide, these students look to the writing center for support. This phenomenon has been reflected in the increasing number of writing-center-related sessions at professional conferences, as well as discussions on various e-lists.

To share information on this topic with a wider audience, SLW News encourages submissions highlighting

  • research,

  • programming,

  • administration, and/or

  • best practices.

Articles can focus on

  • tutor development,

  • one-on-one tutorial sessions,

  • writing groups,

  • workshops, and/or

  • other models.


Second Language Writing IS Contact Information

TESOL’s Second Language Writing Interest Section (SLWIS) provides a forum for researchers and educators across grade levels and institutional settings to discuss and exchange information in the area of second language writing.

Discussion E-List

Visit the TESOL membership page to manage your SLWIS membership status. You can also read past e-list messages here.

Website: TESOL SLWIS Webpage

SLWIS Community Leaders 2017–2018

Chair: Nigel Caplan

Chair-Elect: Tanita Saenkhum

Past Chair: Ryan Miller

Secretary: Veronika Maliborska

Newsletter Editors: Ilka Kostka and Elena Shvidko

Community Manager: Elena Shvidko

External Web Manager: Charles Nelson

Steering Committee


Hee-Seung Kang



Betsy Gilliland



Aylin Baris Atilgan



Sandra Zappa-Hollman



Soo Hyon Kim



Sarah Henderson Lee


Newsletter Editorial Staff

Managing Editors

Ilka Kostka and Elena Shvidko

Associate Editors

Gena Bennett

Adam Clark

Ming Fang

Helena Hall

Joel Heng Hartse

Kristina Lauer

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Book Review Editor

Steven Bookman

Development Officer: Deborah Crusan

Past Chairs

20162017: Ryan Miller

20152016: Silvia Pessoa

20142015: Todd Ruecker

20132014: Gena Bennett

20122013: Lisya Seloni

2011–2012: Ditlev Larsen

2010–2011: Danielle Zawodny Wetzel

2009–2010: Christine Tardy

2008–2009: Gigi Taylor

2007–2008: Deborah Crusan

2006–2007: Jessie L. Moore

2005–2006: Christina Ortmeier-Hooper