Writing-Focused Sessions at TESOL 2020

March means it’s almost time for the annual TESOL Convention, which this year will take place in vibrant Denver, Colorado. If you are attending the Convention, you have myriad opportunities to participate in workshops and listen to speakers talking about second language (L2) writing teaching and research.

This blog post provides an overview of the conference sessions organized by the Second Language Writing Interest Section (SLWIS) and then presents some selected sessions that I found in the Conference Program while searching for sessions with “writing” or “composition” in their title, as well as sessions in the Reading, Writing, and Literacies strand.

Second Language Writing Interest Section Coordinated Sessions

The SLWIS continues its role as TESOL’s coordinators of writing-related sessions, both research and teaching oriented. Like other TESOL interest sections, SLWIS leadership works throughout the year to identify topics of interest to our membership and to coordinate with leaders of other TESOL interest sections to plan panel presentations that explore these ideas in depth. We recruit speakers with varying areas of expertise to share their work and to discuss with each other and with the audience.

This year, the SLWIS academic session is titled “Diversity in L2 Writing: Creating Inclusive Pedagogical and Administrative Approaches” and promises to explore the many different ways that L2 writers represent diversity in college and university contexts. The panelists discuss research and practical applications for creating equitable spaces for English learners with disabilities, refugee students, and international students in writing classes and institutions.

The InterSections between several TESOL ISs highlight the myriad ways that second language writing is relevant to the interests of teachers, researchers, and other TESOLers.

Practical Approaches to Leveraging Technology in L2 Writing Instruction: This InterSection between the SLWIS and the Computer-Assisted Language Learning Interest Section explores classroom-tested techniques for using technology to support writing skills development in ELT contexts. Panelists demonstrate tech tools for L2 writing instruction, share implementation and scaffolding strategies for a variety proficiency levels and writing genres, and discuss the learning and affective outcomes associated with technology use.

Exploring “Good Writing” and Complexities of Cultural and Linguistic Comparisons: This session brings together the SLWIS and the Intercultural Communication Interest Section to revisit intercultural rhetoric, including positioning it as a link between L2 writing and the translingual approach. Focusing on complexities in how L2 writers negotiate linguistic and cultural differences, panelists discuss and explore writing research and practice in a variety of contexts and academic levels (from secondary to postgraduate).

Affirming Multifaceted Identities in TESOL: In this three-IS session, co-organized by SLWIS with the Bilingual-Multicultural Education and “Nonnative” English Speaker Teachers Interest Sections, speakers address ways that ELT professionals identify themselves and are identified by others in many ways: “nonnative,” bilingual, multilingual, translingual, among others. The panelists examine the distinctions among these terms and share their professional experiences navigating and affirming their and/or their students’ multifaceted identities in various educational contexts.

Other Writing-Related Sessions

More than 130 sessions in the program address some aspect of second language writing, covering topics as diverse as writing assessment, creative writing, and writing for publication. Because there are far more sessions than can be discussed within the word count of this blog, I have compiled all the sessions I found in a separate document. Feel free to check it out, and if your session isn’t listed, please add it!

I noticed that several writing-related sessions consider issues of student or teacher identity, a perennial concern as we learn more about why people write and how teachers support their students’ writing development:

  • NNEST Identity-as-Pedagogy in U.S. Writing Classrooms: A Collaborative Narrative Inquiry
  • Poster: ESL Composition Teaching and Learning: From a Teacher Identity Perspective
  • The Stories That Matter: An Autobiographical Literacy Project for Students
  • Understanding Student Resistance as Identity Work in College Literacy Classes

Many sessions present ideas related to teaching creative writing and using student-generated materials:

  • Create a Class Curriculum and Library Based on Student-Generated Material
  • Innovative Prompts for Critical Thinking and Creative Writing
  • Designing Creative Writing Activities for the ESL Classroom
  • Using the Power of Creative Writing to Enhance Academic Writing
  • Poster: Write Our World: Multicultural E-Books by Kids for Kids
  • Learning With Creativity: New Ways in Teaching With Creative Writing
  • Apples to Apples: Adding Colorful Specificity to Writing

Several sessions also address collaboration, especially with the addition of Internet tools:

  • 4 Lessons Learned From an International Online Writing Collaboration
  • Successful Online Collaborative Writing Requirements
  • Technology-Mediated Collaborative Writing as an Instructional Strategy in 1st-Year Composition
  • Evolving Needs, Dynamic Collaboration: Serving EL Writers and Teacher Programs

A topic that seems to be particularly of interest to presenters is the issue of writing across the curriculum and teaching for transfer. These sessions address L2 students’ learning to write beyond their ESL classes as they move into mainstream classes and prepare for careers:

  • Undergraduate Multilingual Students’ Adaptive Transfer in Writing Across the Curriculum
  • Intentional Teaching for Transfer in an ESL Composition Classroom
  • Corpus-Based Research Writing Activities for Engineering Students
  • From Stress to Success: Supporting Rigor in the Transitions Classroom
  • Increased Rigor for Academic and Workplace Success
  • Moving Adult Learners Into Academic and Workplace Writing
  • Student Challenges With Disciplinary Writing: Implications for Curriculum Design
  • L2 Writing Across Pre-K–16 Contexts: Intersections of Teaching, Learning, and Development
  • Bridging ELs to College Composition
  • High-Impact Support for Community College ELs in Corequisite Course
  • Success Beyond ESL Classrooms: Transferring Grammar Skills to Academic Writing

Another topic that caught my eye was the prominence of sessions discussing multimodal writing:

  • The Utility of Infographics: Scaffolding Students’ Writing
  • Creating Multimodal Texts in ESL Composition Classes
  • Multimodal Writing: An Equitable Approach in Cross-Cultural Composition Courses
  • Tracking the Real-Time Processes of Multimodal Writing: A Task-Based Approach
  • Multimodal Writing: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?
  • Multimodal and Translingual Literacy Practices of Young Els
  • Using Instagram to Teach L2 Writers Rhetorical Awareness

Extending Your Conference Experience

Although I enjoy attending presentations at the TESOL Convention, I have found over the years that I get as much out of other activities as well. Once I found the SLWIS, I discovered a group of colleagues who shared my passion for teaching and researching writing. The SLWIS gets together this year for its annual business meeting on Wednesday (1 April) at 6 pm. This meeting is where the steering committee updates members of the interest section on the activities that have occurred over the past year and engages everyone in discussion of what the interest section could do in the coming year. We hold a lively brainstorming session where everyone gets to make suggestions for conference session topics for the following year, and we generate a list that allows interest section members to find collaborators for future conference proposals. Stop by the Interest Sections booth in the Exhibit Hall Wednesday morning (9:30–11:30) to chat with members of the SLWIS Steering Committee and learn more about how you can be part of the group.

What are you most looking forward to at the TESOL Convention? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

About Betsy Gilliland

Betsy Gilliland
Betsy Gilliland is an associate professor in the Department of Second Language Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa, where she teaches courses on second language writing, teacher research, and qualitative research methods to undergraduate and graduate students. Co-editor of the Journal of Response to Writing, she was chair of the TESOL Second Language Writing Interest Section (2019-2020) and has published in TESOL Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, and ELT Journal, among others. She was a Fulbright Scholar at the Universidad de Atacama (Chile) in 2018.
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One Response to
Writing-Focused Sessions at TESOL 2020

  1. Betsy Gilliland Betsy Gilliland says:

    I’m sorry that the 2020 TESOL Convention has been canceled, but I do want readers to know that the Second Language Writing Interest Section will be facilitating some online sessions where you can hear the speakers and participate in discussion. If you’re not a member of the SLW IS MyTESOL group, join us to get the latest updates!

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