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Re-orienting composition and writing center pedagogy: A strengths-based approach for multilingual writers

Bobbi Olson, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This work rests on the premise that in the teaching spaces of the composition classroom and writing center, more attention to the ways in which tutors and teachers operate as language teachers will deepen our understanding of what it means to teach writing. Drawing upon scholars such as A. Suresh Canagarajah, Bruce Horner, Min-Zhan Lu, Paul Kei Matsuda, Vershawn Young, and others who call for a reconceived view of language use in the classroom, I argue that pedagogies that adopt a more accepting view of language variations not only serve multilingual students well, but also enhance and enrich the learning of all students. In particular, such a pedagogical approach among composition teachers and writing center tutors positions multilingual writers as agents of their own texts rather than subscribers to someone else's dominant discourse. Rather than view a multilingual writer's accented text as "wrong," I promote a strengths-based approach that respects and values multilingual writers' potential to contribute intellectually and rhetorically to the range of discourses prevalent in universities, while at the same time considering how multilingual writers can navigate the complicated terrain of current dominant discourses. Furthermore, I consider the interconnectedness of language and power to explore the importance of this work not only in terms of pedagogy but also in terms of student identity.

Subject Area

English as a Second Language|Pedagogy|Rhetoric

Recommended Citation

Olson, Bobbi, "Re-orienting composition and writing center pedagogy: A strengths-based approach for multilingual writers" (2013). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3559721.