Writing for Second Language Users

Matsuda, Paul Kei. "Let's face it: Language issues and the writing program administrator." WPA: Writing Program Administration, 36 (1) (2012), 141–163.

This article addresses the reality of growing numbers of second language writers in American colleges and universities and potential policies and guidelines that can be applied to these writers, who often present sentence level anomalies.  Matsuda discuss the concept of “instructional alignment and language issues.”  By alignment, he means the intended outcomes of a course, instruction, and instructional assessment.  The principle of alignment advises that we not punish students for skills they are not taught in the course and that outcomes to be assessed should be achievable through instruction and student effort.  Reviewing the history of effective grammar instruction for second language learners and the effects of grammar feedback, Matsuda concludes that grammar feedback does not lead to learning and that teachers should stop punishing students for not bringing grammatical fluency to their writing.  Thus, summative assessments that include control of grammar are not in alignment.  He does believe that grammar feedback is important in formative assessments, encouraging teachers to provide significant feedback along with “metalinguistic commentary.”  Some recommended instructional and institutional strategies to deal with grammar include:  focusing on linguistic resources rather than deficits (“point addition versus point deduction” system), working with “treatable errors,” and limiting the percentage of grammar grades to the proportion of grammar instruction.

Matsuda, Aya, and Paul Kei Matsuda. "World Englishes and the classroom: An EFL perspective."TESOL Quarterly 44.2 (2010): 365-369.

English has become the dominant language around the world. This statement hardly requires a justification, but it does warrant some qualifications. The English language is not a monolith but a catchall category for all its varieties—linguistic and functional—hence the term World Englishes (WE). A majority of English language users today have acquired English as an additional language (Graddol, 1997), and they use it as a medium of intranational and international communication, often in tandem with other languages. With the growing understanding of the complexity of English, there has been an increasing interest in considering the pedagogical implications of WE, defined inclusively to encompass not only the linguistic varieties but also the functional varieties of English today. In this brief article, the authors explore implications of WE for the teaching of writing, especially with an eye toward expanding circle contexts, where English is neither dominant nor institutionalized. They then discuss some principles that may help teachers consider how and to what extent they can incorporate insights from WE research into their own teaching contexts.