Providing a Sounding Board for Second Language Writers



English as a second language (ESL) writing teachers face distinct challenges as they try to help students write in the language that is appropriate and natural to the native-English-speaking audience. It is disheartening when the writings of even advanced-level second language students often contain many awkward sentences and non-English-like patterns. ESL writers face various linguistic challenges as they write, and they should be allowed to navigate through the writings of others to attend to the linguistic features they may need in order to accurately express their thoughts. ESL writing teachers can help students by providing language support, through models and prewriting activities, that will encourage students to recognize certain linguistic forms and stock phrases used by native-English-speaking writers. The support of a writing center is also essential because a writing center not only introduces students to the academic community, but also serves as a forum where students can negotiate meanings and discover correct language forms so that they can then convey them.