LING533: Second Language Composition (Spring 2014)

EW 005; T 4:30-7:10

Course website:

Recent Announcements (more)

Hi folks

I have decided to offer two options for portfolio submission:

a) you are welcome to submit the portfolio on the 6th (the day you present) OR
b) you can submit the portfolio on the 9th before 3 pm.  

If you choose option (b), you will need to include in the paper a reflection of the discussion of your work.  Take my word for it: you will be asked questions during your poster presentation; address them in the paper.

Hope this helps.

(Wed Apr 30, 11:23 a.m.)
Hi folks. 
Note that the last time we meet is during the finals week.  Our 'final' time is different from the regular class time: 4:30-6:30.  Please plan accordingly.

(Tue Apr 29, 7:13 a.m.)
Remember the talk tomorrow.  I strongly suggest you attend: she is one of the biggest names in the field of L2 acquisition.

The TESOL Graduate Student Association of Central Connecticut State University 

cordially invites you to attend a special event on 

Friday, April 4, 2014, 5:30 pm 


Room 105, Vance Academic Center 

Dr. Lydia White 

James McGill Professor of Linguistics 

McGill University, Montreal, Quebec 

Linguistic Theory: Implications and Applications

The aim of much generative L2 research has been to reach an understanding of the roles of Universal Grammar (UG) and the mother tongue (L1) in the acquisition of second languages. Recently, there has been a revival of interest in potential applications of such findings. I will present an overview of research, past and present, which explores how linguistic approaches to language acquisition and linguistic theory may offer insights for classroom teaching, as well as for bilingual acquisition in cases of language impairment. 

Short Bio: Lydia White is James McGill Professor of Linguistics and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She is currently Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures and Equity) at McGill. Lydia White has a BA/MA in Moral Sciences and Psychology from Cambridge University (1969), and a PhD in Linguistics from McGill (1980). She is Co-Editor of the book series Language Acquisition and Language Disorders (published by John Benjamins) and she is on the Editorial Boards of the following journals: Language Acquisition, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Second Language Research. 

The lecture is open to the public. ASL-English interpreters provided 

(Thu Apr 03, 7:55 a.m.)


Elena 'Helen' Koulidobrova (Professor)

Office Hours: M-R 9-12 and by appointment in FD 208-12

I am available for both live and Skype appointments.

Course Description

This course provides a systematic examination of written English emphasizing sentence, paragraph, and discourse level grammar with reference to instructional methods and techniques for helping ESL/EFL learners develop their ability to use and control written

                                               NCATE/TESOL Standards

This course especially focuses on Standard 1: 

       Standard 1:Language
Candidates know, understand, and use the major concepts, theories, and research related to the nature and acquisition of language to construct learning environments that support ESOL students’ language and literacy development and content area achievement.

      Standard 1.a. Describing language.
Candidates demonstrate understanding of language as a system and demonstrate a high level of competence in helping ESOL students acquire and use English in listening, speaking, reading, and writing for social and academic purposes.

 In addition, this course has implications for Standard 3: Planning, Implementing, and Managing with respect to reading and writing and Standard 4: Assessment with respect to reading and writing.



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Additional Readings

Additional articles will be uploaded as the semester progresses.  Please come to class having read the articles assigned for that day.  Note that you have readings assigned for the first meeting. Moreover, in the documents, you will find a few other papers which I may or may not use during the semester.  If I do not assign them, you are not obligated to read them; however, I suggest you take a look nonetheless.

Course Details and Policies

General housekeeping:
  • Do yourself a favor: subscribe to the course.  This will ensure that every time I post an announcement, you will receive an e-mail.
  • Check the website on Friday afternoon.  I tend to post articles Friday morning. You will usually not be notified if an article as been uploaded.
  • If you see no readings for Thu, assume that we are continuing the discussion which began on Tue
  • At the moment, the calendar looks empty.  This will change on Fri of the first week of classes.
  • Example of the shorthand for the reading assignments: Leki et al. ch 1 = L1; Williams ch 5 = W 5
  • The best way to get in touch with me is via email.  Since this semester I am teaching 4 courses total, and a number of you are enrolled in more than one of them, please make sure that the subject line of each of your emails begins with 'LING 533: '.  
  • If at any point you feel uncomfortable/unsure about something happening in class, please let me know ASAP.  I am happy to meet with you via e-mail, Skype, or face-to-face.  
  • Begin thinking about the project right away.  Meet with me, if you like, for a brainstorming session.


1. Participation:15%
2. Chairing the discussion:20%
3. Research paper + journal:40%  =  portfolio
4. Poster presentation:10%          =  portfolio
5. Material review: 15%                =  portfolio

Details of assessment:

1. This course is a graduate seminar.  This means that everyone is expected to read all the assigned materials; the majority of the time will be devoted to discussion.  You are expected to contribute to the discussion every time we meet.  If you find it difficult to formulate questions on the spot, then I recommend you to prepare 2 or 3 before you come in.

2. At least once, you will lead a discussion on the assigned readings corresponding to a particular topic.  You will sign up for these during the first meeting.  In addition to the chapters, you will be responsible for finding a paper (published in the last 4 years) that pertains to the topic under the discussion (feel free to have your 'chairing the discussion' topic and your research topic be the same; less work for you).  When you find a suitable article, please contact me, make sure I OK the selection, and send me an e-copy of the paper, so I can upload it to the documents. If you'd like to have a handout, feel free to send that to me as well; I can make copies for the students.  If you need help with any of this, please see/contact me.

- An important part of your presentation should be related to the pedagogical implications of the paper; therefore, you are required to engage your audience in at least one language learning related activity. 

- A good place to begin your search is the LLBA in the library (works well if you have a general topic in mind) or the Journal of Second Language Writing (works well if you are still 'fishing').  

3. One of the common complaints that students make about any education course is that they do not have enough experience with the learners they will be teaching. The course responds to this complaint in the following manner: you will do some research on an issue in learning to read or write in a second language and then apply it to actual students. You will develop a research question and try to answer that question by  examining what learners of English actually do.  Here is a way to proceed:

You must find access to an ESL student for at least 10 hrs during this semester. More than 1 is fine. If you are already teaching a class/group, feel free to use your students as subjects. Do this ASAP! 
Keep a journal for each of the meetings (for your own sanity); turn it in with the paper.

A. Develop the question, check the literature: Leki et al. (2008) and Matsuda et al. (2006) (the textbooks above) are great places to start.  Both books offer a bibliography on a variety of topics.  Note, however, that new research has undoubtedly come out since; make sure to include the newer articles on the topic.  The best way to look for them is through the LLBA database at the CCSU library; another is this: when searching for a particular article, click on the 'cited by' link).  This is your Introduction section.  

B.  Describe your subject(s).  What predictions arise from part A for your subject(s)? What could you do with him/her/them to test the predictions/How could you check? This is your Subjects and Predictions section.

C. Now go do it. Write up what you did as clearly as possible (each step).  This is your Methodology section. 

D. Take a look at the results.  Describe what you found.  This is your Results section.  

E. Discuss your results from the point of view of the predictions in section A.  Were the predictions confirmed? Were you able to answer the question?  Why/why not?  Any implications for other populations/questions/topics of inquiry? Any confounding factors/alternative explanations for your results?  This is your Discussion section.  

F. Briefly summarize A-E. What were the limitations of this case-study? What has gone wrong? How could this be fixed in the future?  Would the problem persist with larger populations? Other issues? This is your Summary and Directions section.

G. Attach a Works Cited page; all the references (both in-text and at the end) must be formatted in APA.

H. Keep copies of the materials; attach them as Appendix.

I can not stress enough the importance of beginning to think about your research project as soon as possible.

4. You will have 15 min. to present your findings in a poster format (this will mirror the poster sessions common to many conferences).  More on that later.

5. You will need to review two materials related to L2 writing (one of these may be on a language other than English).  You have a number of options here: both CCSU and West Hartford public libraries have a selection of L2 writing texts; so does Barnes and Noble.  You should also know that we have a fair number in the Linguistics Lab (FD 206); however, those texts cannot leave the lab (though you should feel free to work on this in the lab itself). Begin looking ASAP. 

It's been my experience that students find the following worksheet to be helpful:

In terms of the narrative: your review should include discussion of the text as it relates to the issues we have discussed in the class (I recommend taking a look at the slides). Frame the discussion in terms of the evidence presented in Leki et al. I am interested in seeing your reflection in how the texts addresses what we now know about the language learner in terms of a) heterogeneity of the population (i.e. is it geared towards a particular population?) and writing; b) his/her level of writing, linguistic, and metalinguistic proficiency, as well as general proficiency in English; c) what the text seems to assume about the connection between learning writing and learning language;  d) what the text seems to assume about the nature of learning in general and the nature of learning an additional language; and f) the role of instruction/instructor.  Back all your claims up with the evidence which you will undoubted be able to gather via checklist completion.Finally, please make sure to offer the final verdict: would you recommend the text? as required or supplementary material? why/why not?  If you have had any personal experiences with this material, please include those as well.  

Please contact me privately to discuss your specific needs if you believe you need course accommodations based on the impact of a disability, medical condition, or if you have emergency medical information to share.  I will need a copy of the accommodation letter from Student Disability Services in order to arrange your class accommodations.  Contact Student Disability Services, Willard Hall, 101-04 if you are not already registered with them. Student Disability Services maintains the confidential documentation of your disability and assists you in coordinating reasonable accommodations with your faculty.

Course Schedule

Week Date Topic Readings Assignments Notes
1 Tue Jan 14 Introductions. Scope of the course. Practicing theory in L2 classroom. Contexts for L2 writing. Who and what L: Introduction, intro to section 1; two chapters from SIlva & Matsuda (2010) 'Practicing Theory in L2 Writing' you can find the readings in the 'Documents' tab at the top of the page  
2 Tue Jan 21  L2 Acquisition {and/vs.} L2 writing.  What's involved? Writer characteristics. Variables to consider; processes involved W 1, 2 (25-31); L 11-12; Land & Whitley (2006)  sign up for topics/populations see the slides in the 'Documents'
3 Tue Jan 28      
4 Tue Feb 04 The teaching itself: instruction  L 9; W 4; Zhou (2009)    
5 Tue Feb 11 L 9, 13-14; W 3-4 Complete Standards Worksheet  
6 Tue Feb 18 Weather!!! No class.     Work on the project
7 Tue Feb 25 The nature of the beast: Classroom activities. Complicating the complicated
 Matsuda & Silva (2006); Ramanathan & Atkinson (2006); Wigglesworth & Storch (2012) a note from Valerie: please take a look at both W&S (2012) and the W&S (2012): Appendix (also in the documents) Valerie 
8 Tue Mar 04 Feedback: the good, the bad, and the indifferent W 5-6; L 10; Maarof & Murat 2013; Suzuki 2012
  Dawn, Kelly
9 Tue Mar 11 Error correction and such...and something concrete, for a change. Ferris (2007), (in press), Sheen 2010, 

Van Beuningen 2011

  Remy, Leanne
10 Tue Mar 18 No class: Spring Break   work on your projects  
11 Tue Mar 25      
12 Tue Apr 01 K-12: Young Writers; Secondary School L 1-2; Curcic et al. (2012); Ranker (2009)
  Hulya, Danielle
13 Tue Apr 08 Adult Ed: Newcomersworkplace; Eng for Specific Purposes (ESP)  L 5-6; Kormos (2012), DePalma & Ringer (2011)
  Alex, Jessica
14 Tue Apr 15 Academia: Scholarly writing (undergrads and up L 3-4,7, Vergaro (2011), Wette (2010)
  Rosy, Ala'a
15 Tue Apr 22 Time to chat about your project:  Conferences   meet with me individually does not need to be today; some time this week. You all should have received a link to a doodle poll. 
16 Tue Apr 29 Reeling it back in: Program options; socio-political implications W 8 additional papers may be uploaded guest today: Dr. Lee Einhorn (CCSU, Developmental Writing Program)
17 Tue May 06 Portfolio due. Poster presentations   print your posters on 11x17 paper (I can do this for you; email me a .pdf file by before Sunday noon)
Note shift in time: this is our official 'final', so 4:30-6:30