composition, history, interdisciplinary, linguistics, lore, meta-disciplinary discourse, methodology, phonetics, praxis, research, second-language writing, teacher-lore, theory
Paul Kei Matsuda, a Professor of English at Arizona State University, in his widely anthologized article, “Second-Language Writing in the Twentieth Century: A Situated Historical Perspective,” examines how second-language studies developed as part of an interdisciplinary relationship within composition studies. Noting that “composition scholarship overall has been rather slow to reflect the influx of second-language writers in composition classroom” (2), he points out that while histories of second-language writing appeared in the 1960s, it was not until the 1990s that second-language writing recognition “emerged as an interdisciplinary field situated at the crossroads between second-language acquisition and composition studies” (7).
Part of what Matsuda cites as a “disciplinary division of labor” (1999), he sees “disciplinary gaps” between composition and second-language learning in their historical perspectives, as well as in how students have been labeled and divided within composition classrooms (8). Matsuda outlines how early second-language instruction focused on speech, using the applied linguistic theories of phoneticians Henry Sweet and Paul Passy, based on the belief that “phonetics should be the basis of both theoretical and practical studies of language” and “take precedence over the written form.”
Matsuda writes that it was in the late 1950s that second-language studies began to become professionalized as second-language writing started to move away from composition (16). Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) was formed in 1966 and Matsuda points to this time as when the disciplines divided the labor of teaching L1 and L2 students. It was later, through need that second-language writing courses became a “sub-discipline” of TESL (Matsuda 21).
Drawing on Stephen North’s use of “teacher lore,” as did Louise Wetherbee Phelps in our reading from last week (“Practical Wisdom and the Geography of Knowledge in Composition,” 1991), Matsuda echoes Phelps’ concerns with how theory does (or often does not) provide adequate or timely connections with practice. Recognizing that both fields are multidisciplinary in nature –echoing in this instance, our reading for this week as the many theories and disciplines come together within English Studies (“Composition Studies: Dappled Discipline,” Lauer, 1984). By 2000, research areas and programs grew as second-language writing was “recognized as a legitimate field” (Matsuda 23). Matsuda closes his article stressing that interdisciplinarity is a must and that “second-language writing should be seen as a symbiotic field” (26).
From this article, I have a number of questions and areas to explore further. What are the current pedagogical methods used in composition for second-language writers? At my own university, as in many without a composition sequence in the first year, students all take first-year seminars and second-language students often face writing challenges during their first year, but only a small percentage of second-language students are enrolled in an additional course to support their second-language needs.
Much of the second-language writing research I have read so far is over 10 years old, but as I have no background in this area, it is informative to research and learn the history of the field, its relationship to composition studies and how best I can align myself within these two areas for my future research and study.
Matsuda, Paul K., Michelle Cox, Jay Jordan, and Christina Ortmeier-Hooper, eds. Second-Language Writing in the Composition Classroom: A Critical Sourcebook. Bedford/St. Martin’s: Boston, 2006. 14-30.
Selected Readings from text for PAB #1:
“CCCC Statement on Second-Language Writing and Writers.” Second-Language Writing in the Composition Classroom: A Critical Sourcebook. Eds. Paul K. Matsuda, Michelle Cox, Jay Jordan, and Christina Ortmeier-Hooper. Bedford/St. Martin’s: Boston, 2006. 10-13.
“Introduction.” Second-Language Writing in the Composition Classroom: A Critical Sourcebook. Eds. Paul K. Matsuda, Michelle Cox, Jay Jordan, and Christina Ortmeier-Hooper. Bedford/St. Martin’s: Boston, 2006. 1-4.
Matsuda, Paul K. “Second-Language Writing in the Twentieth Century: A Situated Historical Perspective.” Second-Language Writing in the Composition Classroom: A Critical Sourcebook. Eds. Paul K. Matsuda, Michelle Cox, Jay Jordan, and Christina Ortmeier-Hooper. Bedford/St. Martin’s: Boston, 2006. 14-30.
 This article appears not only in the text I have cited, but in numerous other second-language texts, as a single article, and reflects his dissertation focus, ESL Writing in Twentieth-Century US higher Education: The Formation of an Interdisciplinary Field (2000).
 Matsuda lists a number of terms used to describe second-language writers and learners, but uses these two terms as they are used within the “CCCC Statement on Second-Language Writing and Writers.”