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LINGUIST List 22.2990

Fri Jul 22 2011

Diss: Applied Ling: Leonard: 'Why We Teach 'ESL' Writing: A socio- ...'

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        1.     Duane Leonard , Why We Teach 'ESL' Writing: A socio-historic discussion of an undergraduate ESL program

Message 1: Why We Teach 'ESL' Writing: A socio-historic discussion of an undergraduate ESL program
Date: 22-Jul-2011
From: Duane Leonard <duaneleonardgmail.com>
Subject: Why We Teach 'ESL' Writing: A socio-historic discussion of an undergraduate ESL program
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Institution: University of California, Davis
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2011

Author: Duane Leonard

Dissertation Title: Why We Teach 'ESL' Writing: A socio-historic discussion of an undergraduate ESL program

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
                            Discourse Analysis
                            Language Acquisition
                            Ling & Literature

Dissertation Director:
Karen Ann Watson-Gegeo
Chris Thaiss
Vaidehi Ramanathan

Dissertation Abstract:

Based on ethnographic data collection over a two-year span of three levels
of freshman composition taught at the University of California (UC), Davis,
this dissertation adds a structuration analysis of an ESL (English as a
Second Language) writing program to the field of second language writing
studies. Specifically, this dissertation discusses the following: 1) How
did this university's Undergraduate ESL Writing Program happen
institutionally and historically; 2) How do the three tiers of freshman
writing (ESL, WKLD, UWP) represent underlying ideologies about 'who is a
student' at this institution; and, 3) How do students who are/were labeled
ESL position themselves within this institution of higher learning?

The Undergraduate ESL Writing Program is the first of three freshman
composition programs that ESL-labeled students must progress through to
acquire their lower division writing requirement at UC Davis. The current
curriculum behind the ESL and subsequent writing programs reflects
socio-historic language attitudes and policies in California as well as of
the institutionalization of standardized writing exams. These attitudes and
policies do not value the multicultural and multilingual diversity these
students add to the campus such that ESL students feel separate from the
rest of the freshman population.

The data in the dissertation come from several types of qualitative data:
1) interviews of teachers, administrators, and ESL-labeled students; 2)
historical web and institutional documents that document changes in
attitudes and policy of writing at UC Davis and the University of
California system; 3) detailed fieldnotes of classroom observations at all
three levels of freshman composition; 4) collections of syllabi, course
readers, and class handouts from all three levels of freshman composition;
and, 5) my own teacher and researcher notes as participant-observer
(instructor, colleague, observer, tutor) in this site over 4 years.

The study serves as a benchmark that solidifies the notion of second
language writing acquisition as a developmental process that improves over
time rather than a 'remedial' issue that can be 'fixed' in one to three
terms of instruction. It demonstrates how all parts of an undergraduate
ESL writing program, from student writing to curriculum, are inextricable
from language policy and language attitudes, and it offers a socially
embedded methodology with which to not only evaluate ESL programs but to
also situate their practices within the larger 'mainstream' practices of
the institution. By juxtaposing the sociohistory of UC Davis' Undergraduate
ESL Writing Program with the three levels of freshman composition ESL
students must progress through and ESL students' attitudes towards this
enforced academic trajectory, this dissertation questions who the
institution actually values as a student in our writing classrooms.

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