Second Language Writing & PWR

Guest Blogger Professor Jessie Moore

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the 11th Symposium on Second Language Writing at Purdue University (my graduate school alma mater!) in West Lafayette, Indiana. So why is a PWR faculty member attending a second language writing conference?

Second language writing was one of my earliest research areas, and I continue to remain active in the field. Most recently, I’ve explored how the field is developing internationally. Even though people write in second languages around the globe, most of the field’s research has been conducted by scholars in the United States, Hong Kong, Japan, Canada, Taiwan, Spain, Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Singapore. The Wordle above shows the proportional contributions of researchers in different geographic locations to the field’s leading journal, the Journal of Second Language Writing.

I’m interested in the geographical gaps in the field’s research, so I’ve started looking at how second language writing work develops around communities of practice – groups of people who develop a sense of community around their shared interests, knowledge, and goals. I presented on second language writing’s communities of practice at the symposium.

The other reason I stay active in the field of second language writing is that its research can inform our work in professional writing and rhetoric. Here are a few quick examples, represented at the intersection of the two fields in the figure above:

  • We’re used to studying Western rhetorics, but as we work in global contexts, we’re likely to encounter other rhetorical histories. These international rhetorics shape the way our international clients and competitors read and write, so being attentive to alternative rhetorical traditions can make us more successful professional writers.
  • When we work with international colleagues, we also are likely to encounter other cultural traditions. Being attentive to cross-cultural communication strategies can help us avoid offending others and remain attentive to culture references that might complicate international communication.
  • Have you ever thought about how your writing practices in your first language (L1) impact your writing in a second language (L2)? Studies in L1-L2 Transfer help writers understand what might apply from their L1 writing experiences when they are working in an L2 – as well as what might make the transition from writing in one language to writing in the other difficult.

If you want to know more about my research or about how second language writing connects to PWR, feel free to stop by my office (ALAM 320B). If you are interested in undergraduate research at the intersection of these fields, let me know. The next Symposium on Second Language Writing will be held in October 2013 at Shandong University in Jinan, China, which would be an amazing venue for presenting your research!

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