Japanese Graduate School Students’ Writing in English
Facilitating Pathways towards ‘Design’
Keywords: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.
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