Conversations of the Mind: The Uses of Journal Writing for Second-Language Learners

By Rebecca Williams Mlynarczyk | Go to book overview

Preface
This book grew out of my desire to know more about the uses of journal writing for second-language learners. As a teacher of writing to college English as a Second Language (ESL) students, I had often noticed that when I asked my students to write about their attitude toward writing, or the difficulties of writing in English, or their thoughts about and reactions to the books we were reading, they responded with a freshness and directness--and often, it seemed, with fluency and correctness--that were missing from their formal essays.Although there have been many informative studies of ESL student journal writing ( Peyton, 1990; Peyton & Staton, 1993; Root, 1979; Spack & Sadow, 1983; Staton, 1980; Staton, Shuy, & Kreeft, 1982; Zamel, 1992), none of them adequately addressed the questions in which I was most interested:
Why do some students welcome the chance to keep a journal while others resist it or refuse to do it altogether?
Why do students use their journals in such different ways, some writing creatively or reflectively while others limit their responses to summarizing the assigned course readings?
Is there something inherent in journal writing that encourages students to write reflectively?
What psycholinguistic or cognitive theories help to explain the power of journal writing for some second-language writers?
Why do some journal entries strike teachers as so much more interesting and rewarding than others?
How do teachers' responses to their students' journals affect the students as writers and thinkers?

Eventually, my interest in exploring such questions and in learning more about the complex processes involved in second-language journal writing led to the research described in this book.

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