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.

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Steve Marshall, Simon Fraser University

Steve Marshall is Associate Professor of Education at Simon Fraser University.

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A Testing Time for Testing L2 Writing: A Proposal for a Construct Redefinition

Hu Guangwei, 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.

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Paul Kei Matsuda, Arizona State University

Paul Kei Matsuda is Professor of English and Director of Second Language Writing at Arizona State University.

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