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

By Rebecca Williams Mlynarczyk | Go to book overview

7
Lan and Kiyoko:
Surprising Reactions to Journal Writing

Different students present different phenomena for understanding and action. Each student makes up a universe of one, whose potentials, problems, and pace of work must be appreciated as the teacher reflects-in-action on the design of her work. ( Schön, 1983, p. 333)

In this chapter I profile two students who outwardly appeared to have a great deal in common, but whose responses to journal writing could hardly have been more different. Lan and Kiyoko were Asian women in their mid-20s, both of whom had received some higher education in their native countries. Lan had completed a 2-year teacher education program in the People's Republic of China. In the United States, she was majoring in early childhood education and planned to teach young children. Kiyoko had finished most of her university studies in Japan, where she had majored in Japanese language and literature and had worked as a tutor, teaching Japanese to Americans. As a college student in the United States, Kiyoko was planning to major in anthropology and had not decided whether she would return to Japan after graduation.

Lan had immigrated to the United States with her family 3½ years earlier. She had not studied English in China and received her first English instruction in a U.S. public high school. Two years later, when Lan enrolled in college, she was placed in the lowest levels of developmental reading and writing. By the time I met her she had fulfilled all the developmental requirements except for the upper level writing course, which she was struggling to pass. Lan entered my class as a "multiple repeater," forced to take the course for a third time. As with many repeaters, she was doing extremely well in her other courses, with a grade point average of 3.72 out of a possible 4.0. However, she had not yet been able to pass the final exam,

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