Historical knowledge and reinventing English writing teacher identity in Asia


  • Xiaoye You Guangdong University of Foreign Studies Pennsylvania State University




monolingualism, multilingualism, translingualism, ESL writing, globalization, teacher identity


The identity of ‘the English writing teacher’ is increasingly important in Asia. Influenced by disciplinary and professional discourses, English teachers in this region tend to develop a monolingual orientation that leads their students towards native speaker norms. However, globalization requires a fluid, less-bounded perspective on nation, culture, and language, that is, a more multilingual orientation to English teaching. This essay argues that an historical perspective on teaching second language (L2) writing in Asia has the potential to reinvent writing teacher identity by challenging teachers’ monolingual assumptions. I will first review historical accounts of teaching L2 writing in Asia, showing that this history is multilingual and transnational. Next, drawing on historical examples related to the teaching of English writing in China, I demonstrate that Chinese students and teachers have struggled with a monolingual ideology endorsed by the state ever since English became a school subject. Recent scholarship in applied linguistics and literacy studies has suggested ways to embrace multilingualism in teaching and research. Coupled with such scholarship, historical knowledge may encourage writing teachers to construct a multilingual, transnational identity by designing teaching materials, writing tasks, and pedagogical techniques in a multilingual framework.

Author Biography

Xiaoye You, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies Pennsylvania State University

Xiaoye You is an associate professor of English and Asian Studies at Pennsylvania State University, USA and a Yunshan Chair Professor at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, China. He is interested in comparative rhetoric, translingual writing, and English as a cosmopolitan language. He has written two books on teaching writing in global contexts: Writing in the Devil’s Tongue: A History of English Composition in China (2010) and Cosmopolitan English and Transliteracy (2016).



How to Cite

You, X. (2017). Historical knowledge and reinventing English writing teacher identity in Asia. Writing and Pedagogy, 8(3), 409–441. https://doi.org/10.1558/wap.31016



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