Multilingual writers and the academic community: Towards a critical relationship

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In recent times, ESOL teachers of academic writing have become sensitive to a community-based orientation to literacy. Such notions as communicative competence in linguistics, social constructionism in philosophy, and situated learning in education help perceive writing as a social activity. They have shown the importance of learning to write as an insider to the community one wishes to address. Though these realizations are constructively altering our teaching practice, there are new problems in defining the community and one's relationship to it. As we move away from static and homogeneous notions of tightly bound community, we confront new questions in orientating to the academy as a community. Such questions become even more complicated when we think of teaching multilingual students who enjoy membership in diverse communities simultaneously. The issue that has concerned me most in my teaching and research on academic writing is the attitude that I should help multilingual writers adopt towards their engagement with academic discourses. How should they position themselves towards their vernacular community and the academic audience? In this paper I examine how different pedagogical approaches in ESOL answer these questions. In the light of emerging theoretical and research findings, I chart a more critical orientation to the relationship between communities. This discussion should prove useful in helping multilingual students develop a writing practice that is creative and challenging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-44
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of English for Academic Purposes
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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