Workshops make the world go round: A response to Matsuda and Hammill’s essay.

Paul Kei Matsuda and Matthew J. Hammill’s essay, Second Language Writing Pedagogy, address ways in which composition teachers can contribute to the aid of ESL students realistically within the classroom. Although some of the strategies mentioned have an up and a down side, the tone and positivity of the overall essay reflect assertion and motivation from the teacher to include ESL, L1 and L2 students within the conversation in the classroom.

“L2 writers have lived in language communities with different sets of values and practices and learning about them can be interesting and beneficial for other students. Because of their experience outside of English- dominant communities, they may also be able to understand and analyze the cultural values, assumptions and practices from different perspectives. In addition, they can read and comment on texts written by monolingual English users from a different perspective” (272).

He goes on to say, because of the L2 culture, they can become informants on a monolingual level. Meaning, the L2 students will be able to teach other students within the class because of their unique qualities of knowing more than one language. In this sense, the student can become the teacher. This set of skills and acquirements are a great attribute to add to any classroom. The implication is refreshing in ways that the essay is highlighting the good and offering ways teachers can incorporate all students within the classroom.

To continue with Hammill, the fact that he brings the issue of global continence to rise is inspiring for a first year composition teacher to read because it offers ways to aid in the learning and teaching of ESL and L2 students. He continues in ways teachers can create further opportunity for students to speak up in class without calling on them during class. He offers suggestions such as choosing topics for reading and encouraging discussion within all L1, L2 and ESL students (276). Which in turn, leads to each individual student feeling comfortable and accepted within the classroom.

After all is said and done, I believe Hammill’s essay to be more beneficial to composition teachers because he offers valuable insights on how to approach L1, L2 and ESL students in the most positive and beneficial aspects for all students interests. I found the essay most beneficial because I had often wondered what would happen and how I would and could teach differently and more effectively to a unique set of students (ELS, L1, L2) if they needed my help.

Although the essay is beneficial in helping to realize that more training is essential to adequately help ESL, L1 and L2 students, it does leave a bitter taste in my mouth because our institution (as far as I am aware) doesn’t require FYW teachers to participate in such trainings and workshops to properly prepare us with the skills we need to teach students of ESL at our best capability.

Questions:

Why don’t universities focus on helping ESL students and require teachers to take workshops and go to conferences as suggested in the essays?

 Does this happen in every university?

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About hflute

Heather is currently teaching two sections of English 120 at NDSU while on a journey through academic enlightenment through the path of English Composition. She is passionate about reading a variety of books and is always excited to become encapsulated in an engaging research project. She also loves coffee and puns.

One thought on “Workshops make the world go round: A response to Matsuda and Hammill’s essay.

  1. In many ways, this issue of training for teaching ELLs and even basic writers is driven by local resources. If the population of either ELLs or basic writers is not so large that the challenges are felt widely and if there is no specialist on staff trained in teaching ELLs and/or basic writers, it is difficult to get everyone trained without a fat budget for hiring or professional development. But your critique is apt nonetheless. How can we purport to serve all our students if we are not well prepared to teach segments of them? And we do have some responsibility to identify these gaps and find creative solutions within the constraints we have (reading groups? draw on community expertise?)

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