L2 writer in a first-year writing class

Activating the support network


  • Natalia Knoblock Saginaw Valley State University
  • Sarah Gorman Saginaw Valley State University




multilingual writer, freshman composition, ESL accommodation, university support services


This paper describes the experiences of an international student who moved mid-semester from a mainstream section of a first-year composition class to a 'sheltered' section, comprised of L2 writers and taught by a TESOL professional, because of the difficulties encountered by the student. This pedagogical reflection focuses on the system of support available to the international students of our university and the reasons that the system first failed to help the student in question but, in due course, proved to assist in the student's success. Improved communication between the elements of the support network ultimately made a difference in the experience of the student and led to changes implemented in the support system. Better application of services already in place and additions to the system under discussion benefited the international students at the university. The recommendations developed as a result of this project may be useful to other institutions with similar student populations.

Author Biographies

Natalia Knoblock, Saginaw Valley State University

Natalia Knoblock is an assistant professor in the English Department of SVSU where she teaches developmental reading and freshman composition classes to non-native speakers of English. Her research interests lie mostly in ESL pedagogy and second language acquisition. She has also done projects in cognitive linguistics, discourse analysis, and sociolinguistics.

Sarah Gorman, Saginaw Valley State University

Sarah Gorman has taught freshman writing at Saginaw Valley State University since 2011, and, over several decades, at Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Michigan State University, and Northwood University. Her own higher education took place at Texas Christian University and Duke University. She grew up in the multilingual environment of South Texas.


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How to Cite

Knoblock, N., & Gorman, S. (2018). L2 writer in a first-year writing class: Activating the support network. Writing and Pedagogy, 10(1-2), 275–296. https://doi.org/10.1558/wap.27720



Reflections on Practice