What Do They Mean?

Comparing International and U.S. Resident Second Language Students’ Use of Sociopragmatic Markers in Writing


  • Kristen di Gennaro Pace University




academic writing, Generation 1.5, meaning in writing, second language writing, sociopragmatic features


Writing scholars often note the heterogeneity of the second language (L2) student population in higher education writing courses, but only recently have researchers begun to carefully examine differences in the writing ability of international L2 learners and U.S. resident L2 learners. Most of the empirical research to date focuses on the two groups’ grammatical accuracy to the exclusion of other dimensions of writing ability. Such a limited focus not only underrepresents the multifaceted construct of writing ability, but also overlooks potential areas where noticeable differences across the two groups’ writing ability might surface. Although arguably less salient than grammatical (in)accuracy, and not as prevalent in scoring rubrics, students’ use of sociopragmatic features in writing offers an alternative approach for comparing the two groups of learners beyond their use of grammatical forms. Thus, the current study describes and compares how international and U.S. resident L2 learners used certain sociopragmatic markers in their writing. By focusing on the meanings associated with these markers, the study suggests that students’ use of such markers reflects their sociopragmatic awareness. Findings indicate that the two groups of writers may be more similar than different, contrary to previous research.

Author Biography

Kristen di Gennaro, Pace University

Dr. Kristen di Gennaro has an Ed.D. in Applied Linguistics from Teachers College, Columbia University, and is currently Assistant Professor and Director of Composition at Pace University in New York City. Her research interests include composition pedagogy and assessment, the writing of second language learners (particularly the generation 1.5 population), sociolinguistic aspects of writing, and professional development for composition teachers. Her work has appeared in journals such as Assessing Writing, Journal of Basic Writing, Language Testing, and Teaching English in the Two-Year College. Notes


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How to Cite

Gennaro, K. di. (2015). What Do They Mean? Comparing International and U.S. Resident Second Language Students’ Use of Sociopragmatic Markers in Writing. Writing and Pedagogy, 7(1), 39-67. https://doi.org/10.1558/wap.v7i1.24054



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