Saturday, March 5, 2016

What is Second Language Writing and Why Should I Care?

Second Language Writing

Those who teach legal writing generally, or to international students specifically, may not realize that second language writing is a discipline in itself. The Journal of Second Language Writing publishes "theoretically grounded reports of research and discussions that represent a contribution to current understandings of central issues in second and foreign language writing and writing instruction."

Teaching legal writing to international students fits nicely under the under the SLW umbrella, which focuses on "characteristics and attitudes of L2 writers, L2 writers' composing processes, features of L2 writers' texts, readers' responses to L2 writing, assessment/evaluation of L2 writing, and contexts (cultural, social, political, institutional) for L2 writing." 

Many of these areas of pedagogical concern -- such as the composing process, features of texts, assessment and feedback, and the writing context -- should be familiar to legal writing teachers generally. However, there are variables specific to L2 writers, including the transfer of writing strategies from L1 to L2, unfamiliarity with rhetorical norms and processes, and social and cognitive challenges, such as motivation, goals, and general learning strategies.

Here are just a few resources for further investigation of and practical advice for teaching second language (legal) writing:




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