Plenary Speakers

Plenary I: Tony Silva

Reflections of a Post-Mid-Career L2 Writing Professional on the Ever-Increasing Challenges of Working at a Large Public Research University in the United States: Facing the Specter of Deprofessionalization

Tony Silva, Purdue University

The number of international students in public institutions of higher education in the United States continues to grow rapidly. These increases are due in large part to intensive recruiting efforts by these institutions. This recruiting is driven in large part (especially at the undergraduate level) by the desire to develop new "revenue streams"—international students typically pay non-resident tuition and fees and more. New revenue is necessary because of declining state funding and strong resistance to increases in tuition for in-state students.

While university administrations welcome this additional revenue, they are much less enthusiastic about providing funds for language support—including L2 writing instruction—for their growing international student populations. Administrations tend to offer short-term, soft money, band-aid fixes rather than to provide long term recurring funds to invest in a professionally sound response. Ideally, universities with well-established graduate programs in second language studies that have been successfully preparing teaching assistants to staff L2 writing courses would invest in and expand these graduate programs by hiring additional tenure-track faculty to prepare more graduate students to staff more sections of L2 writing courses.

Unfortunately, this type of response seems to be more the exception than the rule. All of this suggests that even though L2 writing in recent years has seen a substantial expansion in disciplinary infrastructure, an increase in inquiry in and knowledge about L2 writing and writing instruction, and growth in the number of qualified L2 writing professionals, graduate programs in second language studies still serve at the pleasure (or the whim) of university administrators who are typically unlikely to understand, value, or strongly support the development of the field.

This presentation will illustrate the foregoing state of affairs by providing an account of events that transpired recently at a particular large public research university in the United States and address the implications of these events for the field of L2 writing.

Tony Silva is a Professor and the Director of the ESL Writing Program in the Department of English at Purdue University, where he teaches graduate courses for Ph.D., M.A., and Certificate students and writing support courses for graduate and undergraduate international students. He has also directed the Graduate Program in Second Language Studies/ESL. At Purdue, he has served as chair or member of more than 100 doctoral committees and has won eleven departmental Excellence in Teaching Awards.

With Ilona Leki, he founded and edited the Journal of Second Language Writing from 1992-2007; he continues to co-assemble the Journal’s annotated bibliography. With Paul Kei Matsuda he founded and hosted the (now annual and international) Symposium on Second Language Writing from 1998-2013.

He has co-edited or co-authored a number of books, including: L2 Writing in Secondary Classrooms: Student Experiences, Academic Issues, and Teacher Education (2013); Practicing Theory in Second Language Writing (2010); A Synthesis of Research on Second Language Writing in English (2008); Research on Second Language Writing: Perspectives on the Construction of Knowledge (2005); Landmark Essays on ESL Writing (2001); and On Second Language Writing (2001).
He has published articles in a number of journals, including, College Composition and Communication, Composition Studies, ELT Journal, Foreign Languages and their Teaching, Journal of Second Language Writing, Modern Language Journal, TESL Canada Journal, TESOL Journal, TESOL Quarterly, Writing Program Administration, and Written Communication.

He is an active member of TESOL, where he has organized the Graduate Student Forum, served as a member of the Search Committee for the Editor of TESOL Quarterly, as a member of the Steering Committee of the Second Language Writing Interest Section, and, currently, as a member of the TESOL Board of Directors; he has also served CCCC as a member of the Committee on Second Language Writing, the Special Interest Group on Second Language Writing, and the Executive Board.

Plenary II: Susan Miller-Cochran

Outcomes, Frameworks, Principles and Practices:
Reading WPA and CCCC Position Statements through a SLW Lens

Susan Miller-Cochran, North Carolina State University

Scholars in second language writing have long called for more dialogue between composition scholars and the SLW community. Efforts through professional organizations such as the CCCC Committee on Second Language Writing and TESOL's Second Language Writing Interest Section have helped to bridge the disciplinary divide, especially through drafting and publicizing position statements endorsed by both communities, such as the CCCC Statement on Second Language Writing and Writers (2009).

Recent, prominent position statements from two major professional organizations in writing studies, the Council of Writing Program Administrators and the Conference on College Composition and Communication, offer opportunities for the writing studies community to advance that dialogue by considering implications for second
language writers and advocating for recommendations that are inclusive of a linguistically diverse student population. This talk will specifically examine the Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing (WPA, 2011), the Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices for Online Writing Instruction (CCCC, 2013), and the newly revised WPA Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition (WPA, 2014), putting them in conversation with each other and with scholarship on second language writers.

Susan Miller-Cochran is Professor of English and Director of First-Year Writing at North Carolina State University. Her research focuses on technology, ESL writing, and writing program administration. Her work has appeared in College Composition and Communication, Composition Studies, Computers and Composition, Teaching English in the Two-Year College, and Writing Program Administration. She is also an editor of Rhetorically Rethinking Usability (Hampton Press, 2009) and Strategies for Teaching First-Year Composition (NCTE, 2002). Additionally, she is a co-author of The Wadsworth Guide to Research (with Shelley Rodrigo, Cengage, 2014) and Keys for Writers (with Ann Raimes, Cengage, 2014). Before joining the faculty at NC State, she was a faculty member at Mesa Community College, Arizona. She has served on the Executive Committee of the Conference on College Composition and Communication and the Executive Board of the Council of Writing Program Administrators. She currently serves as Vice President of the Council of Writing Program Administrators.

Plenary III: Lawrence Zhang

Pedagogical Imports of Western Practices for Professionalizing Second Language Writing and Writing Teacher Education

Lawrence Jun Zhang, University of Auckland

Globalization has brought in dynamism in all spheres of life and it is no exception in the academia in general and in language teacher education programs in particular. It is equally true of teacher preparation programs commissioned by the local ministry of education (MOE) for training qualified second language writing teachers. While Western universities compete for international students to maintain sustainable development and international reputation, students of strong calibre from non-Western cultures do leverage on this great opportunity to pursue their dreams of a Western education.

Undoubtedly, the presence of such students in Western universities affords domestic students rich opportunities for understanding different cultures through direct interaction with these international students, who,  as a reciprocal benefit, have easy access to the rich resources they aspired back home by virtue of the very study-abroad opportunity. However, when plunged into Western universities to engage themselves for academic communication in English, especially in writing, these international students face challenges, which are acknowledged by scholars. These challenges do not always arise from their less mature mastery of academic English.

The institutionalized practices in professionalizing them into academic writers do not always yield success because of other non-linguistic factors. Good-willed pedagogical imports of such practices oftentimes clash with the indigenous conventions and pedagogical practices, in which these students were educated in their home countries before their arrival in the West. Such a scenario is often manifested in classrooms in other contexts, too (e.g., Asia), when Western-trained teachers or teacher-educators want to do a ‘better’ job.

My presentation focuses on discussion of the issues relating to professionalizing L2 writers in postgraduate study and writing teacher education. I take a case study approach to delving into the experiences of two EFL students in China preparing for IELTS to seek admission to the Graduate School, two doctoral students writing Applied Linguistics theses in New Zealand, and two pre-service student-teachers receiving training to become writing teachers in Singapore. I examine in particular how perceptions and practices diverge and henceforth attempt to draw implications for working with students whose first academic language is not English, or whose English is not exactly the same as the varieties used in BANA (Britain, America, New Zealand and Australia) countries.

Lawrence Jun Zhang (Ph.D.) is Associate Professor and Associate Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Auckland, New Zealand. He earned his B.A. in English Language and Literature from Shanghai International Studies University, M.A. (Hon.) from Northwestern Normal and Henan Universities, China, Postgraduate Diploma in ELT (with Distinction), and PhD from the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He was a Post-Doctoral Visiting Fellow (Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition) at the Department of Education, University of Oxford, UK and a tenured Associate Professor at the National Institute of Education of Singapore prior to relocating to New Zealand.

Currently, Dr. Zhang teaches educational linguistics and TESOL courses in the Masters programs and supervises Ph.D. thesis students. His main teaching responsibility is doctoral thesis supervision, and he is now working with 16 full-time PhD thesis students as the primary supervisor in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy. His research program spans cognitive, linguistic, sociocultural and developmental factors in bilingual/biliteracy acquisition and teacher identity and cognition. Recently, he has been immensely interested in second language writing and writing teacher preparation. The recipient of the “TESOL Award for Distinguished Research” in 2011 from the TESOL International Association for his article “A dynamic metacognitive systems perspective on Chinese university EFL readers” in TESOL Quarterly, 44(2), he has served on the editorial boards of several international journals, including Applied Linguistics Review, Metacognition and Learning, System, and RELC Journal.

A Co-Editor of TESOL Quarterly, he has recently published two co-edited books, Asian Englishes: Changing Perspectives in a Globalized World (Pearson Prentice-Hall, 2012) and Language Teachers and Teaching: Global Perspectives, Local Initiatives (Taylor & Francis Group/Routledge, 2014). He has published articles and reviews in international refereed journals such as Applied Linguistics Review, Instructional Science (SSCI), British Journal of Educational Psychology (SSCI), Language Awareness (SSCI), Language & Education, Journal of Second Language Writing (SSCI), TESOL Quarterly (SSCI), System (SSCI), Asia Pacific Education Researcher (SSCI), RECL Journal, Journal of Psycholinguistic Research (SSCI), Asia Pacific Journal of Education (SSCI), and Applied Linguistics (SSCI). He is the current secretary of the New Zealand Association of Applied Linguistics, past secretary of the Singapore Association for Applied Linguistics and Past-Chair of the Nonnative English-Speaking Teachers (NNEST) Interest Section of the International TESOL Association. Web:

Plenary IV: Dwight Atkinson

Doctoral Studies as Professional Development in Second Language Writing

Dwight Atkinson, Purdue University

Students undertake doctoral studies in second language writing and other fields for a wide variety of reasons. This itself could be a significant reason why only about half of all doctoral students in the U.S. complete their degrees (Council of Graduate Schools, 2014). That doctoral students come to the U.S. academy with different and perhaps divergent goals and expectations does not excuse their professors from preparing them to be competent researchers. Without accruing this form of cultural capital, our students are severely disadvantaged as professional academics. The two realities--1) that students may arrive without intending to become serious researchers; and 2) that our job is primarily to educate researchers--may appear to conflict. This conflict may be more apparent than real because:

1) Education at the doctoral level is primarily professional education, in which students learn specialized knowledge/skills that distinguish them demonstrably from all others.

 2) Education is becoming--learning how to go beyond. Do most students have a clear, well-articulated idea of why they're doing a doctorate, or its future consequences? I certainly didn't--I wonder how many practicing second language writing scholars did.

3) What is most distinctive and powerful about U.S. universities is their ability to support serious, dedicated research, and learning how to do such research.

4) At the same time as the research focus of U.S. universities is under threat from within, other countries are giving research a much more important role in academic matters, including job security and promotion.

5) It is too late for students to learn how to do research after graduation. This is one of the traditional purposes of the dissertation: a site where serious and effortful learning-by-doing can take place. Yet some institutions are turning the dissertation into glorified master's theses.

6) Doctoral studies is a unique site for academic socialization. Where else are working conditions so explicitly designed for intensive reading, writing, and academic collaboration? Gladwell (2011) claimed that a minimum of 10,000 hours is needed to become competent at complex human behaviors such as playing a musical instrument, team sports, and computer programming--academic writing should be included in this list (see Dortier, in Duranti & Black, 2012, p. 446). Isn't doctoral studies our golden opportunity to develop such competences in the professional realm?

In sum, U.S. doctoral education should focus on what it does best and is primarily designed for: producing competent researchers. The best-developed professional will be one whose professional credentials were planted deeply, effortfully, and seriously from the start of their doctoral career.

Dwight Atkinson is an applied linguist and second language educator who specializes in writing (first and second language), qualitative research approaches, and second language acquisition. Current projects include an attempt to establish a view of second language acquisition on "sociocognitive" principles, research in India on the experiences of vernacular language-schooled students in English-language universities, and a booklength study of different theories of culture impacting TESOL and applied linguistics. Past work has covered a wide variety of topics, from the history of medical and scientific research writing in English, to critiques of commonly used concepts in university writing instruction such as critical thinking and voice, to explorations of the concept of culture, to writings on qualitative research methods. Atkinson teaches courses in qualitative research, postmodernism, and second language acquisition at Purdue, where he is an assistant professor of English. He will be moving to the University of Arizona in 2015.

Plenary V: Deborah Crusan

Fake It 'Til You Make It:
The Imposter Syndrome--the Dilemma of (Women) Academics

Deborah Crusan, Wright State University

The Imposter Syndrome, also know as the Impostor Phenomenon or Fraud Syndrome, is a term used to describe baseless feelings of inadequacy. Even with evidence to the contrary, those who exhibit syndrome traits are convinced that they are fakes; that they will be found out; that they are truly undeserving of the success they have had. Early research (Clance & Imes, 1978) claimed that the Imposter Syndrome was more prevalent in high achieving women. Generally, that notion has been debunked (Young, 2011); however, some anecdotal evidence still illustrates women’s proclivity for the syndrome. Despite their academic and professional achievements, many women attribute their success to luck, timing, or deception of others. In fact, of the 66 dissertations on the Imposter Syndrome, 90% are authored by women (Young, 2011).

Academia is the breeding ground for imposter feelings (Young, 2011). In the field of second language writing, in order to respond to the rapidly changing demands for professional activities related to second language writing, it might be quite common to feel overwhelmed, unworthy of the task, and unsure of what to do. Because of the dynamic and unstable nature of what it means to be an L2 writing specialist, those who suffer under the burden of the Imposter Syndrome might see themselves as unequal to the task of contributing to the field in any real way or taking on the mantle of professionalizing second language writing.

In this presentation, I will discuss the results of a survey that asked academics at several institutions about the Imposter Syndrome; I will then delineate factors furthering the preservation of impostor feelings. I will also examine my own battle with the Imposter Syndrome. Coming to the field of second language writing relatively late, and exacerbated by other variables such as age, gender, upbringing, expectations of colleagues, and relational issues, I struggled to believe that I could acquire the skills I needed to develop professionally and to think of myself as a specialist. I will disclose ways in which I was plagued by self-perceived shortcomings and how those beliefs might have impacted my career but for the remarkable fact that I sought mentorship.

Deborah Crusan is professor of TESOL/Applied Linguistics at Wright State University, Dayton, OH. Her work has appeared in academic publications including Across the Disciplines, Assessing Writing, The Companion to Language Assessment, The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics, English for Specific Purposes, Language Testing, TESOL Quarterly, The Norton Field Guide, and edited collections about second language writing. Her research interests include writing assessment particularly for placement of second language writers, writing teacher education, directed self-placement and its consequences for second language writers, and the politics of assessment.

Her book, Assessment in the Second Language Writing Classroom, was published by University of Michigan Press. Currently she is development officer for the Second Language Writing Interest Section (SLWIS) at TESOL. It is in that role that she has promoted an Evening with the SLWIS, which has been held each year at TESOL since 2007. She developed the event as a way to help others overcome imposter feelings, and in the hopes of fostering collegiality and collaborations, encourages established scholars to attend and meet new scholars.

Plenary VI: Christine Tardy

Representations of Professionalization in Second Language Writing:
A View from the Flagship Journal

Christine Tardy, University of Arizona

Though the categorization of second language writing as a “field” or “discipline” is not uncontroversial, there is a growing sense among many second language writing scholars that the area of inquiry is entering a more mature era of its existence. In a recent “Disciplinary Dialogue” in the Journal of Second Language Writing, for example, established scholars described L2 writing as “coming of age” (Zhang, 2013, p. 466), as “a legitimate area of graduate study” (Silva, 2013, p. 433), and as a term that has “been important in helping to professionalise teachers of writing and in raising the status of writing as a key part of the curriculum” (Hyland, 2013, p. 427). If the field of study has matured, we would expect to find some changes in our discourses— for example, in the ways that we describe and situate our research, and the ways that gatekeepers evaluate L2 writing scholarship. In this talk, I will examine these discursive changes as indexed in the field’s flagship journal, the Journal of Second Language Writing (JSLW).

I will begin by reviewing various frameworks for understanding disciplinary development and professionalization, including the work of social theorist Max Weber (1968), English studies scholar Richard Ohmann (1990), and biomedical researcher Alexander Shneider (2009). These perspectives highlight, for example, the development of specialized jargon, the establishment of doctrine or a general system of knowledge, and the use of field-specific research methodologies. Using these frameworks as a springboard, I will then trace representations of professionalization in second language writing as indexed in published papers and in recent peer reviews of submitted JSLW manuscripts. I will also share perspectives from established scholars who have published in and/or served on the editorial board during all or most of the 22-year lifespan of the journal and from graduate students who are newer readers of JSLW. Based on the patterns I identify, I will consider the benefits and potential cautions of a maturing field and a specialized journal.

Christine M. Tardy is an Associate Professor of English Language and Linguistics in the Department of English at University of Arizona. She teaches and mentors students in the M.A. in English as a Second Language and the interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT), and she serves as the Associate Director of the Writing Program. Her research has focused primarily on second language writing, genre theory and pedagogy, and academic writing development. Her recent work has appeared in College Composition and Communication, English for Specific Purposes, Research in the Teaching of English, TESOL Quarterly, and Written Communication, as well as numerous edited volumes and a book-length study of genre knowledge development (Building Genre Knowledge, Parlor Press). She is currently completing a co-authored book (with Brian Paltridge and Sue Starfield) on ethnographic research of academic writing and a monograph exploring genre innovation and creativity in academic writing. Since 2011, she has served as co-editor of Journal of Second Language Writing.