Paul Kei Matsuda

My Video Self

So far, I haven't met anyone who isn't disturbed by their own recorded voice. It's understandable because it just doesn't match our self-image--it's not what we are used to hearing. After giving many talks using microphones, I came to accept my own physical "voice" as it is heard by others.

I can ignore the microphone pretty well. When Dwight Atkinson and I decided to record our usual conversation, we just carried our conversation as usual, and it came out pretty good and coherent when we had it transcried (by Steve Simpson--thanks, Steve!) verbatim with very little edits (Matsuda & Atkinson, 2008).

But I still can't get used to my own video voice. (Here, I'm using a slightly modified version of my own definition of voice as "the amalgamative effect of the use of discursive and nondiscursive features that language users [appropriate], deliberately or otherwise, from socially available yet ever-changing repertoires" [Matsuda, 2001, p. 40].)

When I give a lecture at other universities, some people ask if it would be OK to video-record my lecture. I usually say yes on two conditions. The first condition is that I get a copy of the video. (I usually don't watch it, but I want to have it for archival purposes.) The second is that they have to promise that they don't circulate it outside the institutional circle. This is partly to protect my intellectual property, but it also has a lot to do with the uncomfortable feeling of my "video-recorded voice" being circulated beyond my control. I know it's probably much closer than I think to what people are actually experiencing when I give a live talk. But still....

I don't like being video-recorded because I get too self conscious. I don't really get nervous when I give a talk--even when it's impromptu. But being video-recorded is an entirely different story. (I feel their pain when I ask my teaching mentees to have their own teaching video-recorded.)

But I'm not the kind of person to let these feelings hold me back when there is an exciting new opportunity. I have agreed to be video recorded several times to share my experties.

The first one I remember is when I had a video interview with a BYU production crew at TESOL. It was for a grant-funded project on second language instruction. I haven't seen the outcome, but if my clips weren't used, I wouldn't be surprised.

The second was a series on foreign language teaching, directed by Rick Donato at the University of Pittsburgh. I remember driving down to Boston to partipate in the production at the WGBH studio. (The person who did my make-up told me that she was the make-up artist for the famous Antique Roadshow.) I remember being really self-conscious, but I managed to get through it--thanks to the help of Rick and the great WGBH crew.

I guess this one is being widely circulated--there have been a number of sighting reports. Cindy Gannett told me once that she saw it on TV in Baltimore. More recently, a graduate student from IUP mentioned on Facebook that he watched it online. It's available at:

Another video-recorded project is Take 20, produced by Todd Taylor for Bedford/St. Martin's Press. It was a compilation of a series of interviews, organized around 20 questions about the teaching of writing. It features 22 writing teachers, including:

  • Linda Adler-Kassner
  • Cheryl E. Ball
  • Dave Bartholomae
  • Patricia Bizzell
  • Bill Condon
  • Ellen Cushman
  • Cheryl Glenn
  • Brian Huot
  • Erika Lindemann
  • Andrea A. Lunsford
  • Paul Kei Matsuda
  • Don McQuade
  • Christine McQuade
  • Mike Palmquist
  • Malea Powell
  • Nedra Reynolds
  • Mike Rose
  • Jacqueline Jones Royster
  • Raul Sanchez
  • John Schilb
  • Nancy Sommers
  • Howard Tinberg
I thought it was a great idea, and I was happy to be part of this project. But because it was filmed during CCCC convention, I was sleep-deprived as usual. When I got to the hotel where Todd was filming the piece, I looked really tired--I was pale and my skin was dry as desert. I felt horrible, but my schedule for the rest of the conference was jam packed, so I wasn't even able to ask to be rescheduled. I was somewhat releaved when I saw the CD the following year--Todd had decided to go black-and-white. (Maybe everyone looked tired.)

I thought it was a great resource for teachers--to hear established writing teachers talk about their own experiences. But I just had to laugh everytime I came on the screen with a series of one-liners. I remember describing it as a "fortune-cookie" discourse. The transcripts read like this:

Matsuda: I tried to be very structured.
Matsuda: It's much more complex than it seems at first.
Matsuda: Janice Lauer.
Matsuda: Every student is different.


None of my substantive comments were included, it seemed. Of course not. I was tired--I thought I was going to fall asleep during the interview--and when I get tired, my cheeks get stiff. The chilly and rainy weather didn't help, either. And I didn't give straight foward answers to questions like "If you had to pick only one book for a writing teacher to read, what would it be?" I just don't believe in one book that's important for everyone--or even for me. Different books offer insights that we need at different times. Blah, blah, blah....

But the last question rescued me: "How do you approach difference?"

Matsuda: "In the next few years, writing teachers need to learn a lot more about language differences, and I'm not talking about just language differences in terms of language and gender, or language and social class. Those are important issues as well, but I think writing teachers need to expand their notion of language and spend some time seriously thinking about the issues of speakers of different varieties of English and speakers of different languages altogether. And I think in the past, because composition and ESL, for example, have been developing as separate disciplines, many people seem to think that it's okay for writing teachers not to know about language issues or students who come from different language backgrounds. And because the student population is becoming more and more complex, that's becoming less and less the case."

That was my favorite question, of course. I was also finally warming up. I even thought maybe I was asked to participate in this project just to answer this question.

As I left the room, I remember telling Todd that, if he needed to retake my interview, I'd be happy to drive down to the Bedford/St. Martin's Office in Boston or even to Chapel Hill. (I was still in New Hampshire at that time.)

OK. Enough rambling for tonight. If anyone is interested in my fortune-cookie discourse--I mean, if anyone is interested in this great resource, it's available at:


Matsuda, P. K. (2001). Voice in Japanese written discourse: Implications for second language writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 10(1-2), 35-53.

Matsuda, P. K., & Atkinson, D. (2008). A conversation on contrastive rhetoric: Dwight Atkinson and Paul Kei Matsuda talk about issues, conceptualizations, and the future of contrastive rhetoric. In U. Connor, E. Nagelhout, & W. Rozycki (Eds.), Contrastive rhetoric: Reaching to intercultural rhetoric (pp. 277-298). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Taylor, T. (Ed.). (2008). Take 20: Teaching writing. [CD-ROM] Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press.

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As I was searching for something else on the web, I found an interview that I had earlier this year with ESL Globe.

The title is: "What Strategies or Instructional Approaches are Particularly Effective for Second Language Writers?"

Because it happened at the busiest time of the year, I had almost forgotten that I had done this.

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Steve Simpson's Publication

The chapter on mentoring that Steve Simpson and I wrote together just came out:

Simpson, S., & Matsuda, P. K. (2008). Mentoring as a long-term relationship: Situated learning in a doctoral program. In C. P. Casanave & X. Li (Eds.), Learning the literacy practices of graduate school: Insiders' reflections on academic enculturation (pp. 90-104). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

It provides an overview of my approach to mentoring as well as Steve's perspective on how it worked for him during the first few years of doctoral studies.

It's been fun working with you on this project, Steve!

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NNEST of the Month

Ana Wu, the web manager for TESOL's NNEST (Nonnative English Speakers in TESOL) Caucus, has also been hosting the NNEST of the month blog. It features interviews with notable NNEST Caucus members, including George Braine, Doug Brown, Suresh Canagarajah, Shelley Wong, Sandy McKay, Claire Kramsch and others. It's worth a look.

I think Ana deserves to be recognized for her ongoing contributions to the Caucus. Thanks, Ana! Keep up the good work!

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L2 Writing in Comp Journals

ScienceDirect - Computers and Composition : ESL students’ experiences of online peer feedback

It seems that second language issues has become an important part of the collective consciousness of rhetoric and composition teachers and researchers. It's no longer unusual to see articles focusing centrally on second language issues in journals in the field.

Computers and Composition has been one of the journals that has been publishing L2-related articles; it even published a special issue on the topic, edited by Kevin Eric De Pew.

The most recent issue includes "ESL students’ experiences of online peer feedback" by Martin Guardado and Ling Shi of the University of British Columbia.

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Last update: January 6, 2008