TESOL 2014 Presentations

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!

 

Consortium on Graduate Communication

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.

To grammar and … beyond!

 

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?

 

Penn-TESOL East 2013 Presentation

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!

Conference Presentations

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)

Getting serious about genre pedagogy: designing and teaching genre-based units of work

Nigel Caplan:

Here is a wonderful example of the genre-based teaching-learning cycle in action in an English year 10 (10th grade) history classroom. I’m particularly impressed by the way the teacher/blogger, Lee, has integrated “the language of schooling” (in Mary Schleppegrell’s phrase) with the content of his course and the writing demands of the final exam (which has more writing on it than most American equivalents).

Originally posted on What's language doing here?:

It’s been a while, almost 7 months in fact, since my last blog here. My initial enthusiastic rush of blogging frenzy back in March, written in 4 or 5 days at the end of the spring term just before I disappeared to China for two weeks’ holiday, petered out upon my return to school for the summer term when internal changes reduced our leadership team to only 3 people and I suddenly found myself doing at least 2 people’s jobs.

So I thought now was the perfect time to resume regular blogging: my wife is 38 weeks pregnant with our second child and I’m responsible for the imminent opening of our School Direct training programme to applicants for September 2014. I’ve got loads of time on my hands, so why not?

I’ve decided to resume penning my thoughts to any who will listen because I believe what I have to…

View original 1,390 more words

From Generic Writing to Writing Genres

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.”

The result: lots of B.S.

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.)

 

EATAW Budapest: Genre Workshop

DSCF0367I just returned from a wonderful few days in the beautiful Hungarian capital for the European Association of Teachers of Academic Writing (EATAW) conference. And congratulations to the organizing team for such an interesting and well-run event.

My workshop (developed with Chris Feak from the University of Michigan) was called University English is No-one’s First Language: Teaching the Genres of Postgraduate Writing, and you can find the PowerPoint, references, and related links to corpus and concordancing sites here.

Many papers at the conference considered the relationship between English and other languages in higher education and (especially scientific) publishing. This put my contribution in an interesting light: I argue that the genre-based pedagogy we use gives students/scholars access to “cultural capital” that will enable them to participate in the knowledge-making work of their disciplines. But it could be argued that we are instead spreading the hegemony of English and forcing writers with their own cultural and rhetorical traditions to subjugate themselves to anglo-saxon domination. I still think that you can’t change a system — or even participate in it — until you can speak its language. What do you think?