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Writing across Culture and Language

Inclusive Strategies for Working with ELL Writers in the ELA Classroom

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Imagine being asked to write an essay in a language you don’t know well or at all, to have to express yourself—your knowledge and analysis—grammatically and clearly in, say, three to five pages. How is your Spanish, your Urdu, your Hmong? 

This is what teachers ask their ELL and multilingual students to do every day in middle and high school, especially in English classes, leading to expectations both too great and too small. Teachers often resort to worksheets and grammar drills that don’t produce good writing or allow these students to tap in to their first language assets and strengths. Writing well is a primary door-opener to success in secondary school, college, and the workplace; it’s also the most difficult language skill to master. Add writing in a second language to the mix, and the task difficulty is magnified. 

In Writing across Culture and Language, Christina Ortmeier-Hooper challenges deficit models of ELL and multilingual writers and offers techniques to help teachers identify their students’ strengths and develop inclusive research-based writing practices that are helpful to all students. Her approach, aligned with specific writing instruction recommendations outlined in the NCTE Position Paper on the Role of English Teachers in Educating English Language Learners (ELLs), connects theory to classroom application, with a focus on writing instruction, response, and assessment for ELL and multilingual students. Through rich examples of these writers and their writing practices, along with “best practices” input from classroom teachers, this book provides accessible explanations of second language writing theory and pedagogy in teacher-friendly language, concrete suggestions for the classroom, guiding questions to support discussion, and an annotated list of resources.

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