Multilingual Writers - IWCA Summer Institute

Carol Severino, [email protected], University of Iowa
◦ Terminology
◦ Attitudes
◦ Principles
◦ Strategies
In the US:
 AKA Visa Students, “Foreign Students”
 May be returning to their countries to live &
work; motivation for learning English may be
more instrumental than integrative (Garner &
Lambert, 1972)
 Students at English-medium national or USaffiliated universities might be in more of an
English as-a-Foreign-Language (EFL) vs.
English-as-a Second-Language (ESL) situation
May be stronger in reading &
writing, but weaker in speaking,
listening, & knowledge of US
culture & expressions
AKA Immigrant ESL students; language minority
students; English Language Learners (ELL);
Generation 1.5 (Rumbaut & Ima, 1988)
Learned English through informal spoken
interactions; may therefore be fluent in informal
spoken English
Probably more aware (part) of US (youth) culture
May speak (or are spoken to in) another
language besides English at home.
Have had some years of high school (& possibly
middle & elementary school) in the US
May have limited knowledge of English
May have limited L1 (home language) literacy
May identify as fully bilingual, as native
speakers of English (Matsuda & Matsuda,
2009), or as a member of the L1 culture.
Tend to Be
of English
 Knowing
who our students are
enables us to tutor them better.
The “Just Ask” Approach
is reciprocal cultural
exchange in the WC as “contact
zone” (Pratt).
 Cultural
 Linguistic
 Rhetorical
In your first/home language, how do
writers make arguments? What are the
features of good communication &
How is this word or idea expressed in
your first/home language?
What do you miss most
about China (Korea, the
Sudan, India)?
What impresses you most
about the US (or your city
or college)?
What confuses you most
about life in the US?
Writing in English as a native or near native
language is also hard for us tutors.
Expressing on the page what is inside our
heads precisely and effectively is a struggle
for almost every writer.
Writing is always a problem-solving process
(Flower & Hayes, 1981), but L2 writing can
present more problems to solve.
Your own experiences studying or traveling in
other countries, regions, or cultures.
Your own experiences if you are also
multilingual & multicultural.
Your own experiences writing, speaking,
reading, and listening in your own L2 &
learning to write in new fields and genres.
Curiosity & empathy
go a long way but…
We also need to know
principles related to
second language (L2)
& literacy development
It can take up to 7 years to
acquire academic
proficiency in an L2.
(Collier, 1987).
e.g., Students must know 9,000
word families for successful
academic reading (Nation, 1996).
Like L2 speaking, L2 writing,
especially by international L2
writers, will probably always
be “accented.”
e.g. “I have done many researches on field of
Language proficiency is complex=
the level of one’s ability to speak, read, write
and listen in a language.
includes fluency and accuracy.
depends on knowledge & application of rules
of grammar, syntax, vocabulary, pragmatics.
Growth in
proficiency is not
always linear;
learning can
plateau, or even
regress at times.
the ability to function in the academic environment
to comprehend lectures, & discussion comments of
to collaborate with classmates.
to comprehend readings (time).
to comprehend and fulfill writing & speaking tasks.
to know when & how to ask for help.
Negative transfer of L1 features:
Discoursal/rhetorical [Handout]
Transfer decreases as proficiency increases.
 System
of tenses
 Agreement
 The
pesky ‘s’
 The
word order of questions
No, we must apply the
principles to strategies to
promote further learning of
writing and language.
Deductive vs. Inductive Organization: Thesis
paragraph previews content & organization &
features the main/controlling idea.
Direct vs. indirect statement of
Writer vs. reader responsibility
Documentation of sources. Quoted material
uses “ “ & is cited.
Rhetoric is Situated : When in Rome….
Higher Order Concerns (HOCs): assignment
fulfillment, argument, audience awareness,
ideas, organization, support, clarity
Lower Order Concerns (LOCs): grammar,
mechanics, citation style.
You can weave work on lower order concerns
into work on higher order concerns.
If you can, read to the end of the paper before
you comment (Matsuda & Cox, 2009).
Remember to praise what the writer did well or
Ask student Tell-Me-More Questions
about problems that obscure meaning
(confusing passages)
“Can you tell me more about what you
say here?” “What do you mean
“Do you mean that________?”
Indicate errors that are rule-based for the
student to correct further=TREATABLE
Help to correct those errors that don’t seem
rule-based, e.g. faulty vocabulary/word
choice=UNTREATABLE ERRORS, which often
obscure meaning.
Show curiosity; learning in the WC is
 Empathize, Relativize
 Clarify academic & cultural
 Give feedback without overwhelming
 Enjoy learning from multilingual
students=an armchair travel & crosscultural opportunity
Terminology: International Student from
 Attitudes: Curiosity about and empathy with
his experiences with replay culture and with
his problem-solving processes
 Principles: Acquisition, Accent, Transfer,
English syntax, vocabulary, grammar
 Strategies: Praise; Weaving the Local into the
Global; prioritizing errors in meaning by
asking tell me more questions, categorizing
treatable vs. untreatable errors.

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