Plenary Talks

Ideologies and realities on plurilingual academic writers in multilingual contexts: Seeking clarity and advocacy

Ryuko Kubota, University of British Columbia

Multi/pluri concepts, such as multilingualism, plurilingualism, and translingualism, paint realities of L2 writing in the globalized era. These concepts invite L2 writing practitioners and researchers to critique normative assumptions about linguistic and textual appropriateness and to examine how plurilingual writers can and do express themselves in alternative ways in academic language. However, this celebration of multiplicity is nested in neoliberal educational demands that can intensify competition and individual accountability. These demands counteract the critique presented by the multi/pluri trend since they require normative standards in writing. Conversely, normativity in academic writing, especially lexicogrammatical correctness, is largely a myth. The multi/pluri trend and linguistic normativity thus should be viewed as both realities and ideologies.

This dialectic understanding provides conceptual clarity and invites us to rethink advocacy for L2 plurilingual writers and their writing. While liberal support for broadening the norm and celebration of nonnative writers’ success are noteworthy, they contradict the advocates’ continual use of the same linguistic/textual tools of power. We must find ways to decolonize not only linguistic/textual normativity but also the real practices of academic/school writing. This requires critical examinations of how social and institutional realities of writing practices and L2 plurilingual writers are differently shaped according to race, gender, and nationality.

Ryuko Kubota is Professor in the Department of Language and Literacy Education in the Faculty of Education at University of British Columbia, where she teaches courses on applied linguistics and teacher education in English as an additional language and modern languages. Her research draws on critical approaches to applied linguistics and second language education, focusing on race, culture, and language ideology. She is a co-editor of Race, culture, and identities in second language education: Exploring critically engaged practice (Routledge 2009) and Demystifying career paths after graduate school: A guide for second language professionals in higher education (Information Age Publishing 2012). Her publications also appear in such journals as Applied Linguistics, Critical Inquiry in Language Studies, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, Journal of Second Language Writing, Linguistics and Education, and TESOL Quarterly. Some of these articles have been translated into Japanese and were published in two volumes by Kuroshio Shuppan in 2015.


Writing in English as an additional language across the disciplines in higher education: Challenges, dilemmas, and plurilingual pedagogy

Steve Marshall, Simon Fraser University

Curriculum and assessment across the disciplines in higher education in Anglophone Canada and elsewhere have traditionally targeted an idealized native speaker of English. Perhaps as a result, in linguistically diverse classes with large numbers of English as an Additional Language (EAL) writers, instructors often struggle to meet the needs of all their students. Many questions arise. Should instructors change their pedagogy, or should students adapt? Should instructors encourage or discourage students from using languages other than English in class? And should instructors assess students’ writing according to an idealized ‘native speaker’ level? One possible response to these challenges is to employ plurilingual pedagogies, according to which students’ additional languages should be seen as assets for learning and spaces should be opened up to promote language awareness and use of different languages as tools for learning. But is this realistic in different courses across the disciplines? I look for answers to these questions by presenting data from various studies in which I analyzed the writing practices of students and attitudes of instructors in different disciplinary contexts, ranging from foundational academic writing courses to technical lab classes. I discuss the complex inter-relationships between language, writing, content, course objectives, and teachers’ identities that make plurilingual approaches successful in some contexts and problematic in others.

Steve Marshall is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia. Steve is currently researching academic literacy and plurilingualism across the disciplines in Canadian higher education contexts. Steve teaches foundational academic literacy to first-year students, literacy and language education to pre-service student teachers, and courses in ethnography, applied linguistics, and sociolinguistics at graduate level. Steve has published in journals such as TESOL Quarterly, International Journal of Multilingualism, Canadian Modern Language Review, and Journal of Second Language Writing. Steve is also the co-editor of a collection of works on ethnography and multilingualism, Shaping Ethnography in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts (Althouse Press, 2014), and of three academic writing textbooks: Academic Writing: Making the Transition (Pearson, 2012), Advance in Academic Writing (Pearson ELT, 2017), and Grammar for Academic Purposes (Pearson ELT, 2018).


A testing time for testing L2 writing: A proposal for a construct redefinition

Guangwei Hu, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

The unprecedented geographical and domain spread of English in the contemporary world has cemented its status as the most widely learned and used L2. The changing demographics of English learners/users and the diverse contexts of English use have turned the present era into a testing time for assessing proficiency in English as an L2. Various proposals informed by the World-Englishes paradigm have been made to reconceptualize the construct of L2 English proficiency. Although writing competence is an important part of general language proficiency, these proposals have generally passed over L2 English writing assessment presumably because written English is widely perceived to be conservative with respect to linguistic norms. This does not mean, however, that the assessment of writing competence in L2 English can and should continue business as usual. In this presentation, I argue that the assessment of L2 English writing needs to grapple with the same thorny issues prompting a reconceptualization of L2 English proficiency more generally. In an effort to stimulate debate and research, I discuss several principles informing recent proposals to redefine L2 English proficiency and explore their relevance to a construct redefinition of L2 English writing competence. I conclude the presentation by outlining a way of moving forward.

Guangwei Hu is Professor of Language and Literacy Education in the Department of English, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. His current research interests include academic literacy, language assessment, second language writing, and the psychology of second language learning and use. He has published extensively on these and other areas in refereed journals and edited volumes. His co-authored article ‘Disciplinary and ethnolinguistic influences on citation in research articles’ published in the Journal of English for Academic Purposes won the 2016 JEAP Best Article Award. He is an Associate Editor of The TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2018 and serves on the editorial boards of several international journals, including English for Specific Purposes, Frontiers of Education in China, and Language, Culture and Curriculum. Currently, he is Associate Editor of the Journal of English for Academic Purposes.


Reexamining second language writing in the era of fluidity

Paul Kei Matsuda, Arizona State University

We live in the era of fluidity in which everything—from people and goods to ideas and identities—seem to flow freely across all sorts of borders and boundaries. Languages are no exception. In today's global society, multilinguality (in which multiple languages co-exist) is the rule rather than the exeption, and plurilingual individuals deploy multiple languages depending on the situation and purpose, sometimes developing mixed codes. Increasingly, language users are using languages in ways that transcend various boundaries. While L2 writing community has long acknowledged the multilingual reality, it has been slow to integrate the awareness into its theoretical and pedagogical practices. The recent surge of interest in translingual writing—which exaggerated the case and led to uncritical valorization of underdefined concepts—created some reactions but has not prompted a radical reconceptualization of second language writing that goes beyond helping students develop proficiency in privileged languages and genres. In this plenary talk, I will reconsider the current status of L2 writing theory, research and teaching in relation to the growing awareness of the multiplicity of language practices and suggest possible future directions for the field of second language writing.

Paul Kei Matsuda is Professor of English and Director of Second Language Writing at Arizona State University, and Concurrent Professor of Applied Linguistics at Nanjing University. He is founding chair of the Symposium on Second Language Writing and editor of the Parlor Press Series on Second Language Writing. He also served as a former president of the American Association for Applied Linguistics. Paul has published widely on various topics on language, writing, identity and professional development in applied linguistics, rhetoric and composition and TESOL, and has received a number of prestigious awards for his publications. A sought-after speaker, he has presented keynote and plenary talks as well as lectures and workshops in over 25 countries. His most recent publications include the Handbook of Second and Foreign Language Writing (2016) and Professionalizing Second Language Writing (2017).