Theme: Second Language Writing Research and Practice: Challenging the Norms
Welcome to this new issue of NELTA ELT Forum, our first issue of 2016. It feels like we started this blog yesterday, but our blog is over one year old now. In spite of our short history, our readers have grown exponentially, making us proud and excited. As it stands, our forum has reached over 19,000 readers from more than one hundred countries. It has been such a rewarding journey for us, and we have just started.
Learning, teaching and researching writing skills have never been an easy task. Successful writing involves a complex process by which we need to follow rigid guidelines and fulfill the different norms of writing – an obvious reason why people struggle in writing. Because there are idiosyncratic styles of writing, fulfilling certain requirements of academic writing becomes a challenge for most, if not all, writers (native ones included). As Canagarajan (2011) puts it, “writing is not a monologue; it is dialogue” (p. 218). Writing is an interaction among different social and cultural variables. Even when one works on a long piece of writing alone in a cozy room, there is a need for him or her to communicate with different social milieus across space and time.
Our current issue is an enjoyable capsule of different works put together for second language teachers, teacher educators, researchers, and independent readers. Centering its theme on second language writing, this issue is diverse in scholastic foci and approaches, and we are quite confident that it is going to make a tremendous contribution to the field of second language writing. For those who are feeling hesitant on how to incorporate writing in an English classroom, Babita Sharma Chapagain shares some hands-on teaching tips in using mentor texts to teach creative writing to young learners. Her article chronicles a series of practical writing lessons, bringing into spotlight a range of teaching elements beginning with lesson design, before moving to implementation of relevant classroom activities and to discussion of teachers’ roles. Readers wishing to explore creative ideas to teach writing, especially to young learners, should find the article of great value.
As the highlight of the issue, Dr. Shyam Sharma’s reflective article approaches writing from a wider educational lens, presenting an analogy of Nepali and other countries’ writing cultures by highlighting some underlying sociocultural reasons and dynamics which make our writing pedagogy and education in general the same and different. You will find several eye-opening reasons why there are disparities and what kinds of variations prevail to make education and EFL writing teaching practice in Nepal “understanding-driven,” and those in the U.S. and Western Europe “expression-driven.”
The third, fourth, and fifth articles of the issue examine second language pedagogy from another corner of the ELT world. Lady Lim et al. present a case study to investigate Cambodian EFL teachers’ use of teacher feedback to improve students’ academic writings. Insights from the article could be of high relevance for teachers and educators working under the pressure of time and overwhelming responsibilities.
Mouy Eng et al.’s article, on the other hand, explores the contentious issue of scoring procedures and their subsequent impacts on students’ writing test/assessment performances.
Usefully, Khat Korop offers a personal reflection of Ken Hyland’s suggested practice of giving feedback and comments on students’ written work. The reflection should take us down memory lane and excite us to reflect on our own writing teaching practice.
As a special feature, the issue presents a conversation with Dr. Sarah Henderson Lee who is an assistant professor of English at Minnesota State University, Mankato regarding her academic and professional backgrounds, her myriad research projects, and her inspiration for past and future academic endeavors in relation to the postmethod approach to second language writing instruction. Dr. Henderson Lee also shares useful teaching writing resources as well as an important discussion on how second language writing and the idea of world Englishes intersect – another element of additional value for our readers.
We hope that this issue, just like the rest of the forum, turns out to be an avenue leading our readers to fresh inspiration to not only reflect on the issues discussed but also to delve into their own teaching and research agenda, which in return results in new initiatives to challenge the norms and take their teaching and research practice a good step further.
- Writing in Second Language: Scaffolding Student Writers by Mentor Texts by Babita Sharma Chapagain
- Productive Crossroads: Writing Pedagogy and Nepali ELT by Dr. Shyam Sharma
- Use of Teacher Feedback to Improve Academic Written Work: A Case Study of Cambodian EFL Students by Lady Lim, Sokly Chheng, Chhengly Long, Vannak Sok, and Bophan Khan
- Practicing Analytic and Holistic Scoring Rubrics: An investigation of a Cambodian Academic Writing Class by Mouy Eng, Sofilta Seth, Darisna Sok, Panhchaleak Sokheng, and Bophan Khan
- Reflecting on Responding to Student Writing by Khat Korop
- A Postmethod Approach to Second Language Writing Instruction: A Conversation with Dr. Sarah Henderson Lee
Shyam B. Pandey