Paul Matsuda

ESL writing in twentieth-century United States higher education: The formation of an interdisciplinary field

Paul Kei Matsuda

  • School: Purdue University (0183)
  • Degree: Ph.D.
  • Date: 2000; pp: 162
  • Advisor: Silva, Tony
  • Source: DAI-A 62/06, p. 2100, Dec 2001
  • Subjects: Language, Rhetoric And Composition (0681); Language, Linguistics (0290); Education, Bilingual And Multicultural (0282); Education, Language And Literature (0279)
  • ProQuest Document Number: 304618637
  • ISBN: 0-493-29282-9
  • UMI Number: AAT 3018244


    The number of second language writers in US higher education has been increasing continuously during the latter half of the 20th century. Today, there are over 480,000 international students, the majority of whom come from countries where English is not the dominant language. In addition, there is an equally significant number of permanent residents and refugees as well as native-born and naturalized citizens of the United States who grew up speaking languages other than English at home and in their communities. Thus, it is becoming increasingly likely that writing teachers at one point or another in their career will encounter ESL writers in their classrooms. While ESL students are similar in many ways to native-English-speaking writers, there also are many significant differences that make working with these students challenging for writing teachers. Yet, the preparation of writing teachers generally does not include the teaching of writing to ESL writers, and composition theory and research, for the most part, continue to be uninformed about the needs and characteristics of second language writers and writing. The lack of attention to second language writing issues in composition studies, I argue, is related to how those issues have been positioned in relation to two closely related intellectual formations: composition studies and second language studies—or more specifically, Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL). To construct a view of the interdisciplinary relationship that is conducive to meeting the needs of second language writers, this study investigates the historical development of second language writing issues in 20th-century US higher education. In addition to constructing an identity for the field of second language writing as a site of disciplinary and instructional practices, this study contributes an understanding of the historical context in which second language writing theory and pedagogy have developed, thus providing a basis for the critique of existing disciplinary and instructional practices. The first dissertation-length examination of the history of second language writing, this study also contributes historical insights into second language issues in composition studies and writing issues in second language studies.