Paul Kei Matsuda

Congratulations, Christina!

Christina Ortmeier-Hooper, one of my doctoral students at UNH, has just informed me that her manuscript, "'English is My Second Language, but I'm Not ESL'" has been accepted for publication in College Composition and Communication.

Congratulations, Christina! Well done!

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International Association for World Englishes

Aya and I have just finished preparing the script and PowerPoint for our presentation at International Association for World Englishes, at Chukyo University in Nagoya, Japan. We and Matt Schneider, my summer intern, spend a good part of the summer analyzing the representation of international communication in technical writing textbooks for the study.

Now, onto the PowerPoint for the plenary talk.



Second Language Writing Interest Section at TESOL now has a web site maintained by Chris Tardy, DePaul University.


The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog: In Virtual Worlds, Personal Space Still Matters

It makes sense that avatars follow the conventions of social interaction. I wonder if they also found cross-cultural differences in proxemics.


CFP: Asia TEFL, June 8-10, 2007.

The 5th Asia TEFL International Conference
June 8-10, 2007, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Theme: "Empowering Asia: New Paradigms in English Language Education."

The Call for Presentation and Participation is now available. The deadline for submission is January 2, 2007.

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Waseda Symposium on Teaching and Research in Academic Writing

This is an event that took place at Waseda University, Japan, last February. (Chris Tardy was one of the invited speakers.) Topics included writing center pedagogy, graduate and undergraduate academic writing, and technology/corpora and L2 academic writing.

This is an important event to me because it seems to indicate that L2 writing research and instruction is becoming increasingly important in Japan.


Read Widely

Nels Highberg's comment and his related blog entry has inspired me to clarify my advice and to articulate its corollary: Read widely.

I try to keep up with the literature in both rhetoric/composition and applied linguistics/TESOL, both of which are highly interdisciplinary, drawing on various areas of humanities and social sciences. I often find myself having to go into many other fields to fully understand my own fields. And I happen to believe that borrowing ideas from other disciplines requires a deep understanding of the intellectual and historical contexts in which those ideas were developed--so I know what the idea can and cannot do as well as what my borrowing might do to my field and the field it came from.

Naturally, my reading list continues to snowball.

It's certainly impossible to have read everything in all of these (and many more) areas of knowledge. So, my advice, "read everything," is not an imperative to have read everything--a state no one will ever achieve. Rather, it's a call to begin and continue reading deeply and widely.

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"Read Everything" Again

My blog entry on reading everything seems to have generated some interesting discussion. I like what Derek Mueller says:

This paradox is the ongoing challenge, no? Read everything; to read everything is impossible. Still, one must. But cannot. Etc. The outlying factors bear down and raise related questions: write everything? How much to read before writing? While writing? How much to write while reading?
It is indeed paradoxical, especially because the professional literature keeps expanding. Nevertheless, it is important to "collect" everything, as Collin Brooke suggests, and to develop a mental map of the field that continues to evolve with the researcher's knowledge of the field.

Derek also poses an important question--when do we stop reading and start writing (or do we stop reading)? Of course the reading process never stops. As I write, I discover what I know as well as what I don't know or don't remember well, or inconsistencies in my thinking, prompting me to go back to various texts. (I sound like my dear friend Don Murray when I say this.)

When I was an MA student, I approached the process of reading to write as "information crunching"--and I had the image of defragmenting hard-drives in mind. I would type up relevant passages into the document, break them up into smaller clusters, rearrange them to fit the evolving organization of my own writing, and then paraphrase or summarize what I can, leaving the rest of the original texts as direct quotes.

After having read (and written) quite bit in the field (though still not enough), I began to experience what Jeff Rice describes:
At some point in my career, I found myself able to perform a pretty amazing (to me) feat when writing. I was able to pull out of my memory not details, but positions, ideas, arguments, stances from my past reading. That build-up is important. Out of it, I can write, and I can join the conversations.
My writing process changed quite a bit while I was working on my Ph.D. at Purdue. I would now just read, read, and read (though increasingly, I find myself drawing mostly on what I remember having read) and then, when I feel I have a good sense of the topic and my overall argument--the vision, if you will--for the entire article, I start drafting without looking at anything. I can often cite sources from memory, though I try to verify them later for accuracy. Then, as I read through my own writing numerous times, I keep adding more sources, this time checking the original sources for exact wording and page numbers.

I also feel that reading the professional literature has become much easier. I know what to read carefully (and several times) and what to skim through quickly because I can often predict where I might find certain arguments or pieces of information because of my genre knowledge. Sometimes I can even predict what the text is going to say before reading it based on my knowledge of what's been said and done; in those cases, reading is a matter of confirming my predictions and noting any discrepancies.

All of this may seem overwhelming to those who are only beginning to read--ahem--everything, but it'll come with practice. But it probably doesn't happen to those whose reading experience has not reached a critical mass.

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Last update: January 6, 2008