Helping L2 students overcome negative writing affect


  • Muhammad M. M. Abdel Latif Cairo University





Affect is an important predictor of writers’ performance. Though writing affect has been researched since the mid-1970s, few works have addressed the ways to motivate students to write and/or help them avoid demotivation. This paper suggests some guidelines that teachers can follow to help L2 students overcome negative writing affect. After briefly highlighting the aspects of negative writing affect and describing its causes, the paper provides five main guidelines for helping demotivated L2 students to write. These guidelines are: improving students’ linguistic knowledge, integrating technological tools in writing instruction, nurturing students’ positive beliefs about writing, optimizing teacher feedback, and orchestrating peer assessment activities. The first two pedagogical guidelines are concerned with fostering students’ positive writing affect indirectly through enabling them to overcome their composing problems and write in a supportive environment, whereas the last three focus on enhancing it directly by nurturing their positive beliefs about and attitudes towards writing. Each guideline is rationalized and described in detail. 

Author Biography

Muhammad M. M. Abdel Latif, Cairo University

Dr Muhammad M. M. Abdel Latif is a lecturer of TESOL at the Faculty of Graduate Studies of Education, Cairo University, Egypt. His research was granted some prestigious international awards, including the ACTFL-MLJ 2009 Emma Marie Birkmaier Doctoral Dissertation Award, and the CMLR 2009 Best Graduate Student Paper. He has published in ranked and wellknown international journals such as Applied Linguistics, System, Journal of Research in Reading, Canadian Modern Language Review, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, Higher Education Research & Development, European Journal of Teacher Education, and English Teaching: Practice & Critique. ORCID: 0000-0003-4002-822X


Abdel Latif, M. M. M. (2015) Sources of L2 writing apprehension: a study of Egyptian university students. Journal of Research in Reading 38: 194-212.

Andrade, H., Wang, X., Du, Y., and Akawi, R. (2009). Rubric-referenced self-assessment and self-efficacy for writing. The Journal of Educational Research 102: 287-302.

Atay, D. and Kurt, G. (2006). Prospective teachers and L2 writing anxiety. Asian EFL Journal 8: 100-118.

Badger, R. and White, G. (2000). A process genre approach to teaching writing. ELT Journal 54: 153-160.

Boscolo, P. and Hidi, S. (2007). The multiple meanings of motivation to write. In S. Hidi and P. Boscolo (Eds), Writing and Motivation, 1-16. New York: Elsevier.

Bruning, R. and Horn, C. (2000). Developing motivation to write. Educational Psychologist 35: 25-37.

Cheng, Y. S. (2002). Factors associated with foreign language writing anxiety. Foreign Language Annals 35: 647-656.

Csizér, K. and Tankó, G. (2017). English majors' self-regulatory control strategy use in academic writing and its relation to L2 motivation. Applied Linguistics 38: 386-404.

Daud, N. S. M., Daud, N. M., and Abu Kassim, N. L. (2005). Second language writing anxiety: cause or effect. Malaysian Journal of ELT Research (MELTA): 1-19.

Daly, J. (1985). Writing apprehension. In M. Rose (Ed.), When a Writer can't Write: Studies in Writer's Block and Other Composing-process Problems, 43-82. London and New York: Guilford Press.

Erkan, D. Y. and Saban, A. I. (2011). Writing performance relative to writing apprehension, self-efficacy in writing, and attitudes towards writing: A correlational study in Turkish tertiary-level EFL. The Asian EFL Journal Quarterly 13: 163-191.

Han, J. and Hiver, P. (2018). Genre-based L2 writing instruction and writing-specific psychological factors: The dynamics of change. Journal of Second Language Writing 40: 44-59.

Hansen, J. and Liu, J. (2005). Guiding principles for effective peer response. ELT Journal, 59: 31-38.

Hidi , S., Berndorff, D., and Ainley, M. (2002). Children's argument writing, interest and self-efficacy: an intervention study. Learning and Instruction 12: 429-446.

Hyland, K. (2003). Second Language Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hyland, F. and Hyland, K. (2001). Sugaring the pill: Praise and criticism in written feedback. Journal of Second Language Writing 10: 185-212.

Jiang, L. and Luk, J. (2016). Multimodal composing as a learning activity in English classrooms: Inquiring into the sources of its motivational capacity. System 59: 1-11.

Lo, J., and Hyland, F. (2007). Enhancing students' engagement and motivation in writing: The case of primary students in Hong Kong. Journal of Second Language Writing 16: 219-237.

Mahfoodh, O. H. (2017). 'I feel disappointed': EFL university students' emotional responses towards teacher written feedback. Assessing Writing 31: 53-72.

Pajares, F. (2003). Self-efficacy beliefs, motivation, and achievement in writing: A review of the literature. Reading and Writing Quarterly 19: 139-158.

Pajares, F., Johnson, M., and Usher, E. (2007). Sources of writing self-efficacy beliefs of elementary, middle, and high school students. Research in the Teaching of English 42: 104-119.

Pajares, F. and Valiante, G. (2001). Gender differences in writing motivation and achievement of middle school students: A function of gender orientation? Contemporary Educational Psychology 26: 366-381.

Rankin-Brown, M. (2006). Addressing writing apprehension in adult English language learners. Proceedings of CATESOL State Conference.

Ryu, H. (1997). Threshold level of English language proficiency for EFL writing: effect on the interaction between English language proficiency and writing skills on Korean college students' EFL writing. PhD Dissertation, University of Florida, USA.

Sanders-Reio, J., Alexander, P., Reio Jr, T., and Newman, I. (2014). Do students' beliefs about writing relate to their writing self-efficacy, apprehension, and performance? Learning & Instruction 33: 1-11.

Selfe, C. L. (1984). The predrafting processes of four high- and four low-apprehensive writers. Research in the Teaching of English 18: 45-64.

Troia, G., Shankland, R., and Wolbers, K. (2012). Motivation research in writing: Theoretical and empirical considerations. Reading & Writing Quarterly 28: 5-28.

Tsao, J., Tseng, W., and?Wang, C. (2017). The effects of writing anxiety and motivation on EFL college students' self-evaluative judgments of corrective feedback. Psychological Reports 120: 219-241.

Walker, B. (2003). The cultivation of student self-efficacy in reading and writing. Reading & Writing Quarterly 19: 287-302.

Yasuda, S. (2011). Genre-based tasks in foreign language writing: Developing writers' genre awareness, linguistic knowledge, and writing competence. Journal of Second Language Writing 20: 111-133.

Yu, S. and Hu, G. (2017). Can higher-proficiency L2 learners benefit from working with lower-proficiency partners in peer feedback? Teaching in Higher Education 22: 178-192.

Zhang, Z. (2017). Student engagement with computer-generated feedback: A case study. ELT Journal, 71: 317-328.



How to Cite

Abdel Latif, M. (2019). Helping L2 students overcome negative writing affect. Writing and Pedagogy, 11(1), 151–163.



Reflections on Practice