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TESOL Journal


TESOL International Association

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Research on second language writing instruction consistently shows low levels of student engagement (Lee, 2012) in writing classes. In order to address this challenge, researchers have argued for the need to introduce various forms of expressive writing (Bilton & Sivasubramaniam, 2009), including student interpretive practice with texts (Kramsch, 1997).

Another common problem associated with second language writing instruction is lack of connection between writing and reading activities. Prominent language educators have long recognized the benefits of connecting reading and writing activities with English learners (Krashen, 1992). According to Krashen (1992), we learn to write through reading. To resolve these multiple discrepancies, I engage students in a second language writing course with narratives written by multilingual authors (e.g., Tan, 2006) as "springboards" for in-class discussions and reading-response journals addressing the issues related to identity, language, and a feeling of belonging. The majority of the students find this classroom practice inspiring, instructive, and engaging. As a result of their participation, students also increase their knowledge of U.S. culture and cross-cultural awareness. The paper includes materials that teachers can use in their own English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.