TESOL 2014 handouts and references are now online here!
- EAP Support for Graduate Students: Challenges and Successes (discussion group with Chris Feak). Friday 2:00-2:45pm
- What Graduate Writers Really Need (invited session, with Chris Feak); Saturday 9:30-10:45am
- Disciplinary Differences, Disciplinary Genres (colloquium, with Silvia Pessoa, Ryan Miller, and Kyung-Hee Bae). Saturday 1:00-2:45pm
Do you teach or advise (post-)graduate students? Join the Graduate Educators Roundtable discussion list!
In my column in this month’s Cambridge Grammar Newsletter, I argue that the magic number is 3.
OK, so I know I’m playing fast and loose with the word tense, and many linguists would argue that there are only two (past and present), possibly three if you allow the future to squeak in. But I’m using tense in the way most teachers and students (and textbooks!) understand it, as time + aspect (so present simple, past simple, present perfect, and … well that’s all you need anyway).
Any suggestions for future columns?
For the past few years, a growing group of teachers and administrators have gathered at TESOL around sessions presented by Chris Feak and/or me, and we’ve bemoaned the lack of time and space to discuss teaching written and oral communication skills to (post-)graduate students.* This year, we have decided to take the next step and create a new professional community, the Consortium on Graduate Communication. Our group will provide online and face-to-face opportunities to share resources, investigate program models, and collaborate on research into this vital area of higher education.
Membership is free for now. Anyone who works with graduate students is welcome to join by completing this survey. The middle part of the survey doubles as a research project to create a database of graduate support programs around the world, which we will publish and present in the future.
Stay tuned for a website, listserv, Facebook page (maybe!), and details about meetings and a colloquium next March!
* Graduate students in North America are post-graduate students in the UK/Europe and some other countries. We mean here support services for students in master’s and doctoral program(me)s. By bi-varietalism comes in handy sometimes.
I’ve been invited to contribute articles to Cambridge University Press’s Grammar Teaching Newsletter, which is linked to their series Grammar and Beyond. (I had nothing to do with the series, although I rather like the textbooks: good, solid, corpus-informed grammar). You can read my first two posts on teaching count/non-count nouns and parallel forms, or subscribe to the newsletter. Now, the real question is which Toy Story character should I use as my avatar on the site …
Suggestions for future columns would be very much appreciated. So far, I’ve used the last tricky question my students asked me. What questions would you like me to take a shot at?
I’ve posted the slides for my presentations at WRAB III in Paris la belle here. Bonne lecture (happy reading?)!
Here’s my answer to a question submitted to Oxford University Press as part of their series of videos by authors of the Q: Skills for Success series.
Thanks to everyone who came to my presentation at Penn-TESOL East today. As promised, here is my PowerPoint with all the information and references.You might also be interested in the article I wrote recently on this topic (“From Generic Writing to Writing Genres”) in SLW News.
The textbook series I mentioned will be called Inside Writing and will be available in spring/summer 2014 from Oxford University Press. It takes a genre-based approach to teaching writing, from beginner to advanced (academic preparation) levels. I’ll post more details as production continues!
I have an exciting year of conferences and workshops ahead. Here are the highlights and handouts!
- Penn-TESOL East Fall Conference, Saturday November 9. “From Generic Writing to Writing Genres.” PowerPoint.
- Maryland English Institute, invited workshop on teaching EAP Writing for MEI faculty, November 15
- University of Trento, Italy, invited 2-day workshop on effective EAP instruction, February 17-18, 2014
- Writing Research Across Borders, Feb 19-22, Paris, France. Oh yes, France.
- Making Thinking Visible: Comparing Genre-Based Pedagogy and Cognitive Strategy Instruction (paper with Dr. Skip MacArthur and Dr. Zoi Philippakos). PowerPoint slides here.
- Exploring Disciplinary Genres (colloquium, with Ryan Miller and Silvia Pessoa): The Conflicting Case of the MBA Case Study. PowerPoint slides here.
- TESOL 2014, Portland, Oregon (March 26-29)
- What Graduate Writers Really Need (invited session, with Chris Feak)
- Disciplinary Differences, Disciplinary Genres (colloquium, with Gena Bennett, Silvia Pessoa, Ryan Miller, and Kyung-Hee Bae)
My short essay/conference review From Generic Writing to Writing Genres has been published in TESOL’s Second Language Writing Interest Section Newsletter (October 2013). In it, I argue (again!) in favor of a genre-based writing pedagogy as an antidote to the five-paragraph essay. I also summarize my 2012 and 2013 conference blitz, and you can find all the PPTs and handouts here: CCCC 2012, TESOL 2012, Genre 2012, SSLW 2012, EATAW 2013, and TESOL 2013.
Talking about the five-paragraph essay (as I so often seem to be), there was a great article in Slate recently denouncing the (five-paragraph) essay component of the SAT (one of the standardized tests taken by American high-school students as part of their university application). The title says it all: “We are teaching high school students to write terribly.” The article quotes Professor Anne Ruggles-Gere of the University of Michigan writing center:
“For those trained in the five-paragraph, non-fact-based writing style that is rewarded on the SAT, shifting gears can be extremely challenging. “The SAT does [students] no favors,” Gere says, “because it gives them a diminished view of what writing is by treating it as something that can be done once, quickly, and that it doesn’t require any basis in fact.”
As Professor Gere says elsewhere in the article, the result is that college writing teachers like me have to un-teach what students have “learned” about writing — and it’s not just American students. International students trained to pass the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or other English language proficiency tests also arrive with what Linda Flower has called a “limited literacy.”
Lest you think we exaggerate, here is a horrifyingly amusing blog post by Jed Applerouth, a teacher and doctoral student who takes the SAT regularly to help him tutor high school students to ace/beat the test. Since SAT essay raters are explicitly trained to ignore the veracity of the writing, here’s how to get a top score:
I stuck John Fitzgerald Kennedy in a Saxon war council during the middle ages, grappling with whether to invade the neighboring kingdom of Lilliput. Barrack Husein Obama shared a Basque prison cell with Winston Churchill, and the two inmates plotted to overthrow General Franco. Cincinnati’s own, Martin Luther King Jr. sought out a political apprenticeship with his mentor, Abraham James Lincoln, famed Ontario prosecutor.
Finally, an example of writing with absolutely no communicative value whatsoever. The SAT essay as anti-genre?!
(Hat tip to my Facebook friends and friends-of-friends for these links.)