As part of an OpenXChange grant funded by VPFDD for faculty development, Professor Matsuda, a distinguished scholar in the field of Second Language Writing, Applied Linguistics and TESOL, was invited to visit PWR this fall.
On October 25, 2017, he spent the day with us on campus, offering both a workhshop in the Hume Center for Writing and Speaking and a public talk, "Multilingual Students in "Highly Selective Universities": Characteristics, Issues & Strategies." Through Matsuda's positionality as an international scholar, he encouraged us to combat deficit framings of multilingual learners, and thus, to better understand how faculty might be more responsive to our students’ diverse needs and backgrounds.
The following is an interview with organizers Dr. Jennifer Johnson and Dr. Norah Fahim, who originally won the OpenXChange grant in 2016 .
Q: Professor Matsuda presented both a workshop in Hume and a talk at the Black Community Center can you tell us about those two events?
JJ & NF: The lunch Q&A workshop was held in the Hume Lounge and attended by 25 Hume tutors and PWR instructors. The Hume student tutors kept the discussion lively, bringing in diverse questions about their experiences tutoring MLL undergraduates and graduate students.
At the start of Dr. Matsuda’s public talk (held later that afternoon), he opened up with an exercise that encouraged lecturers to write about their writing process but in a second language. I [Norah] personally found this activity quite effective as I was keen to share my ideas, but with my limited usage of French, I felt very much stuck. Other colleagues shared the same sentiment of not being able to fully express the extent of their thoughts, and a few others found the activity engaging as they were able to find a space to finally use their second language.
Throughout the talk Dr. Matsuda offered an overview of common language learning characteristics shared by local multilingual students, as well as characteristics shared more specifically with international students. Students come to our classes with a unique set of strengths, but also with a clear sense of, often unspoken, concerns. As teachers, our role is to have candid one-on-one discussions with students on what forms of writing support they find most helpful.
His talk opened up spaces for critical dialogue among faculty to address the challenges faced by multilingual students. During his talk he encouraged us to question our own assumptions that influence our pedagogical and curricular decisions. Dr. Matsuda’s campus talk is available to all PWR lecturers as a video recording on our common PWR Canvas page. While his talk is focused on working with multilingual students, there are numerous instances in his talk where he offers pedagogical practices that would benefit all our students as well as guide our own feedback practices. [The full recording of Dr. Matsuda's talk is available to PWR instructors here.]
Q: It was great to see so many Hume student tutors at the workshop, what new approaches did they learn about?
JJ & NF: Hume student tutors asked questions directly related to their experiences tutoring MLLs [multilingual learners]. Matsuda offered strategies for facilitating language development through a focus on audience and rhetorical grammar. He also stressed the value in linking oral communication with writing developing, which certainly resonated with the combined mission of the Hume Center for Writing and speaking.
Q: Professor Matsuda has many important publications. Which ones would you recommend for PWR instructors?
JJ & NF: "The Myth of Linguistic Homogeneity in U.S. College Composition." College English 68.6 (2006): 637-51. This is a much-referenced piece that questions the assumption of monolingualism in most First Year Composition (FYC) classes. As such many FYC programs may be unprepared for working with the increasing numbers of second-language writers given that English-Only policies have been perceived as the status quo.
The Politics of Second Language Writing: In Search of the Promised Land. Ed. Paul Kei Matsuda, Christina Ortmeier-Hooper and Xiaoye You. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor, 2006. This publication raises questions on our classroom practices, specifically within the greater context of “institutional politics” and the policies that arise due to such institutional constraints. Some of the key topics discussed in this book tackle teacher development & support, as well as discussions on assessment of student work, course content and class size etc. This publication takes a practice-oriented approach whereby we can grapple with some of these discussions and work towards finding actual solutions to better guide our daily teaching practices.
Second Language Writing in the Composition Classroom: A Critical Sourcebook. Ed. Paul Kei Matsuda, Michelle Cox, Jay Jordan and Christina Ortmeier-Hooper. Boston: Bedford; Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2006. This is a very helpful resource book, available in our PWR library. This sourcebook offers an accessible introduction to theoretical and pedagogical approaches for working with second-language writers, as well as recommendations for response to and assessment of student writing.