Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version


Document Type



Riyanti, D. (2015). An exploration of voice in second language writing. The Nebraska Educator, 2, 28-48.


Writing with strong voice is desirable in the U.S. mainstream culture, yet it is not necessarily easy to accomplish it. This is even harder for second language writers who are new to the culture. The different cultural expectation and the knowledge of the language presumably become some of the obstacles for them to write in the expectation of the U.S. mainstream. Even the notion of voice in writing itself is often confusing. This paper, focusing on exploring what voice is and how it is manifested in second language writing, reviews related literature on voice and second language writing research as well as the author's experience being an international student who has to write for the U.S. mainstream audience. The findings show that the concept of voice itself is broadly defined to refer to many things, adding confusion to novice second language writers who are trying to fit to the expectation of the intended audience. Additionally, the struggles that second language writers experience in writing with strong voice are triggered by many factors which are not necessarily lacking of the knowledge of the language. The insight of the challenges that second language writers have may give implications on how second language writing instruction should focus.