Second Language Writing Interest Section

TESOL has a new interest section: Second Language Writing (SLW-IS). Actually, it was accepted back in July 2005, but it takes time to become active. Still, SLW-IS is growing strong with more than 200 members. Here are excerpts from a message written before the TESOL 2006 conference from its first and now immediate-past chair, Christina Ortmeier-Hooper:

The new SLWIS provides a forum for researchers and educators to discuss and exchange information in the area of second language writing. Specifically, our goals are

∑ to increase awareness of the significance of writing in teaching ESL/EFL

∑ to encourage and support the teaching of writing to ESOL students at all levels

∑ to provide a forum to discuss issues of writing assessment and the placement of second language writers

∑ to disseminate and promote research on second language writing

The hope is that SLWIS will facilitate communication about writing across teaching levels and settings. Recent research on the scope of second language writing scholarship suggests that most of the field’s nationally (within the United States) and internationally circulated scholarship is produced by scholars in postsecondary education at research-intensive institutions. Other contexts for writing (pre-K through 12, 2-year colleges, community programs, international K-12 schools, etc.) often have much larger populations of ELL/EFL writers, but scholars, particularly teacher-researchers, in these settings do not often receive support for researching and writing.

In light of that, the new SLWIS provides us with the opportunity to initiate more research and scholarship in these underrepresented contexts by supporting new collaborations and partnerships across levels and by providing a forum for discussing shared experiences. Indeed, the SLWIS will hopefully bring teachers, teacher-researchers, and second language writing specialists together, from across nations, across institutions, and across grade levels, to discuss the unique needs and concerns of ESL/EFL writers. Along with the Symposium on Second Language Writing and the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) Committee on Second Language Writing, the SLWIS at TESOL hopes to broaden the scope of L2 writing research and to help teachers and administrators further their understanding of second language writers.