Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in TESOL Journal 5:1 (March 2014), pp. 105–119; doi: 10.1002/tesj.101


Copyright © 2013 TESOL International Association; published by John Wiley & Sons. Used by permission.


Writing can be a difficult task for many students in today’s classrooms; however, for students who are culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD), writing can be especially difficult. These students often are in the process of developing their facility with the English language, and they possess cultural backgrounds that differ from those of many of their peers and teachers. In addition to these challenges, they face the typical difficulties of selecting ideas to write about for their stories. One way to tap into the cultural backgrounds of Spanish-speaking CLD students is through the use of a strategy called the mini-novela. A mini-novela allows students to initially draw their stories and then write an accompanying narrative. It also allows students to use their cultural knowledge and the process of visualization as bridges to images and words that transform writing into a personally relevant, meaningful experience.