ESL/ELL Resources for Working with International Student Writers
Poyrazli, S and K. M. Grahame (March 01, 2007). Barriers to Adjustment: Needs of International Students within a Semi-Urban Campus Community. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 34, 1, 28-45. (Those with UW Internet ID can access this piece by clicking here. [Downloading will take a few moments])
The "Barriers" article deals with "everything else" that surrounds the challenges of L2 learning. We have become a program that deals with many English Language Learners, but we are not in the business of teaching them the English language in any direct way. Our own internal research shows that our students will make progress on their English while in our class, but the curriculum of this class is not an ELL curriculum. Still, we need as teachers to be aware of the challenges these students face. You'll learn a lot about that from them themselves, of course, but this piece can get us started.
Ferris, D. (2008). Students must learn to correct all their writing errors. In J. Reid (ed.). Writing myths: Applying second language research to classroom teaching (90-114). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. (Those with UW Internet ID can access this piece by clicking here. [Downloading will take a few moments])
This piece is focused on the problem of surface error. Dana Ferris has been studying error in ELL writing for a long time, and she makes a good case for the advisedness of reading through error, keeping it from distorting you and your students' writing experience. Having explained that a teacher's fixing of error will produce very little change in any given term, she nevertheless outlines a number of strategies that can help students begin to improve their self-editing skills. In reading the piece, the series of ways she outlines to work with error may cause you to lose track of her more basic point: writing skills like invention, drafting, finding and redacting evidence, and developing smart and coherent argument are more important to work on than correctness--particularly because correctness can be inculcated only over an extended period of course-taking.
Ferris, D. & Roberts, B. (2011). Error feedback in L2 writing classes: How explicit does it need to be? In P. K. Matsuda, M. Cox, J. Jordan, and C. Ortmeier-Hooper. Second-language writing in the composition classroom: A critical sourcebook. Boston/New York: Bedford/St Martins, pp. 386-408. (Those with UW Internet ID can access this piece by clicking here. [Downloading will take a few moments])
Ferris and Roberts look at a variety of types of error feedback on L2 papers—coded feedback (i.e. indicating errors within the paper as well as he type of error), non-coded feedback (i.e. simply indicating by a check or by highlighting that an error exists), and no error feedback at all. Students who received some type of feedback were better able to self-edit their papers than those who received no feedback. Moreover, there was no significant difference in students’ ability to self-correct when the instructor coded comments with the type of error. (J.Zinchuk)
Reid, J. (2011). “Eye” learners and “ear” learners: Identifying the language needs of international student and U.S. resident writers. In P. K. Matsuda, M. Cox, J. Jordan, and C. Ortmeier-Hooper. Second-language writing in the composition classroom: A critical sourcebook. Boston/New York: Bedford/St Martins, pp. 82-94. (Those with UW Internet ID can access this piece by clicking here. [Downloading will take a few moments])
Although all students who enter our classrooms have different strengths and needs, Reid argues that second-language needs often fall into two groups: “eye” and “ear” learners. That is, international students tend to have learned English primarily by eye—studying vocabulary, grammar, and language rules in English-as-a-Foreign Language environment. In contrast, immigrant/refugee students have come to the US at an earlier age (possibly even born in the United States) and have learned English primarily through their ears—by listening and oral trial and error. This article discusses the variety of challenges these groups of students face in the university environment along with strategies to identify and assist these students in the writing classroom. (J.Zinchuk)
Reid, J. & Kroll, B. (2011). Designing and assessing effective classroom writing assignments for NES and ESL students. In P. K. Matsuda, M. Cox, J. Jordan, and C. Ortmeier-Hooper. Second-language writing in the composition classroom: A critical sourcebook. Boston/New York: Bedford/St Martins, pp. 266-289. (Those with UW Internet ID can access this piece by clicking here. [Downloading will take a few moments])
This article looks at both ineffective and effective writing prompts from a variety of academic disciplines in order to give design guidelines for instructors to create good prompts for both native English-speaking and English as a Second-language students. Their guidelines include looking at context, content, language, tasks, rhetorical specifications, and method of evaluation. (J.Zinchuk)
Webster, John, "On the Challenges of Working with the Writing of English Language Learners." MS, 2011. http://faculty.washington.edu/cicero/metacognitiveteaching.htm#ELL.
Teaching writing to a class with several ELL students can be a challenge. This short paper offers an introduction to thinking about both the fears and the nature of the challenge that comes along with teaching English Language Learners in the college writing classroom. It includes a description of the notion of "reading through error" along with other suggestions for successful teaching.
Webster, John, "Five Key Grammar Errors Native Chinese Speakers Often Make When Writing English." MS, 2011. http://faculty.washington.edu/cicero/metacognitiveteaching.htm#Some
A short essay detailing some of the errors native Chinese speaking English Language Learners find very difficult to avoid because they follow from basic differences between the syntactic structures of the two languages. Owing to the complete absense in Chinese of some of the most basic and therefore most noticeable features of English, Chinese ELLs will usually have great difficulty with what many English-speaking readers will think to be among the most naive and sloppy of grammar mistakes. This essay outlines those syntactic differences and explains why they are not necessarily indicative of ignornace: "in spite of how awful these errors may seem to us ... once a reader learns to take an 'other language oriented' perspective on English, most of even these seemingly egregious grammar problems will not actually interfere much with our understanding what a writer wants to communicate."