Japanese Graduate School Students’ Writing in English

Facilitating Pathways towards ‘Design’


  • Glenn Toh Tamagawa University Center for English as a Lingua Franca




critical literacy, critical practice, academic literacies


In this article, I seek to reflexively examine my practice as an EAP teacher given the task of teaching academic writing to a group of Japanese graduate school students studying for a Master of Arts in English Language Education at a private university in Tokyo. Drawing on Lillis’ (2003) notions of ‘critique’ and ‘design’, my article covers the following areas: (1) student conceptualizations of ‘good’ academic writing; (2) the need for a socially-situated approach to academic writing that takes into account writers’ identities and subjectivities; (3) the manner in which such identities and subjectivities are not static or pre-existent, but are discursively constructed and subject to individual negotiation and agency; (4) student insights into how such negotiated identities and subjectivities can be reified and enacted in written work; (5) the way students can move into a ‘design’ mode through imagining and asserting new possibilities for meaning making. Throughout, I am concerned with how teachers can best help students appreciate the value of discovering the discursive and dynamic nature of their identity-borne narratives. I also argue that such a realization can provide students with a richer understanding of their ontological positioning as writers vis-à-vis writing as a socially-situated meaning making activity.

Author Biography

Glenn Toh, Tamagawa University Center for English as a Lingua Franca

Glenn Toh has taught ESL, EFL, EAP, ESP and lectured on teacher training programs in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Laos, Hong Kong and Singapore. He maintains a keen interest in current developments in language, ideology and critical pedagogy.



How to Cite

Toh, G. (2017). Japanese Graduate School Students’ Writing in English: Facilitating Pathways towards ‘Design’. Writing and Pedagogy, 8(3), 561–575. https://doi.org/10.1558/wap.29241



Reflections on Practice