The bibliography/webliography that follows is based on the premise that composition programs in the United States are about to reach a demographic tipping point—if they haven’t already. This tipping point will come as sections of composition fill with more and more students for whom English is a second (or third or fourth) language. These students will not necessarily be of the type that we might expect, i.e., international students studying for a time in the US on a student visa or so-called multicultural students from the various ethnic minorities that have long been a part of the American population. Such students will be part of the mix, of course. Additionally, there will be increasing numbers of students who are or will be permanent US residents and who have either come to this nation as immigrants or refugees or have been born after their parents came here as immigrants or refugees. Sometimes these students are called “Generation 1.5” or “cross-over students” to indicate that they occupy a middle position between their parents’ linguistic and cultural identity and full assimilation into the language and culture of the USA.
To give you some reason why we believe a tipping point is here or imminent, we present some statistics from the US Department of Education:
Here are some more statistics from Michael Fix and Jeffery Passel of the Urban Institute:
These learners will not be concentrated mainly in coastal and border states. States in the Midwest and Intermountain West have seen enormous increases in the number of such students. In Illinois, for example, during the last decade enrollments of Hispanic undergraduates grew by 80 percent.
We believe these demographic changes mean that we who lead and who work in writing programs should prepare quickly for increasing numbers of students whose English language proficiency and cultural backgrounds will be very different from what we in the past have considered “normal.” As John Trimbur and Bruce Horner, in their 2002 CCC essay “English Only and U.S. College Composition” (Vol. 53, pp. 594–630), have argued, composition programs tend to be strongly defined by assumptions of monolingualism and monoculturalism. Trimbur and Horner assert that composition teaching has been shaped by a “chain of reifications” that represent language itself as static, clearly bounded, and evaluated by a narrow canon of rules. These reifications also construct social identity in terms of nationality, and they amount to a tacit language policy that is in many ways complicit with the English Only movement.
As we face increasing diversity in our students’ language abilities, repertoires, and communities, it is vital to question our own assumptions and preparation so that we can make our teacher education programs, our materials, and our curricula responsive to, and effective for, a changing student population. To that end, we offer the following as a starting point for our WPA colleagues (and for their graduate students and colleagues) to help you become acquainted with some valuable scholarship on teaching English to L2 (English as a Second Language), ELL (English Language Learners), EFL (English as a Foreign Language), and ESP (English for Special Purposes) students.
We hope these materials will save writing teachers a great deal of time and effort, and that they will inspire further learning. We do not claim that this project is either complete or comprehensive, only that we find the items in it to be of high quality. We invite interested persons to communicate with us about items that might be added at a later date.
1Cited by Adrian J. Wurr in “English Studies and Generation 1.5: Writing Program Administration at the Crossroads.” Reading Matrix 4 (2004): 14–23.
2Urban Institute. “U.S. Immigration Trends and Implications for Schools, 2003.” 30 March 2006, NABE Presentation.