This month we are publishing International Students’ Multilingual Literacy Practices edited by Peter I. De Costa, Wendy Li and Jongbong Lee. In this post the editors introduce the book’s main themes.
In the second language (L2) community, international students are often viewed as “English language learners” whose limited linguistic and cultural repertories need to be remediated by the “experts” (i.e. instructors, supervisors, and native English-speaking students). Our edited volume promotes an asset-based understanding of international students in US higher education and calls for a similar stance to be adopted in comparable educational contexts. Funded by a university grant to promote inclusiveness and enhance academic quality, we invited graduate students in Second Language Studies, TESOL, and the Writing, Rhetoric and American Culture (WRAC) programs as well as instructors in the first-year writing program to jointly investigate how international undergraduate students acquire the English language and develop their academic discourse in first-year writing classrooms.
Data were collected during the 2017-2018 academic year, when the number of international students at the university exceeded 6,500. Over the course of that year, the contributors to this book – most of them international students or scholars themselves – traced the learning pathways of individual international students both within and outside first-year writing classrooms. Our team of researchers documented fascinating stories of how international students with diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds drew on their cultural and linguistic assets, social and academic networks, and university resources to navigate the turbulent academic waters and (re)construct identities as capable multilingual writers and speakers.
In Part 1 of this book, the chapter authors describe the participants’ multilingual literacy practices in diverse spaces, including the writing classroom and writing center, and show how these practices shaped and, in turn, were shaped by the students’ own identity development.
Part 2 reports how the international students marshaled their communicative resources to make sense of the auxiliary services offered by the university and other sources, such as the university’s writing center and the active Chinese student community network on a social media platform.
Part 3 introduces readers to theoretical and pedagogical orientations worth considering in the teaching and researching of international students. Central to our investigative enterprise is the students’ use of multiple languages and semiotics to construct meaning in their social and academic encounters.
A unique feature of this book is that it showcases the result of a collaborative, interdisciplinary research project while at the same time providing a glimpse into the collaborative process at all stages of the project. Readers are thus afforded the opportunity to see how a data set can be analyzed from multiple theoretical perspectives and through diverse analytical frameworks. Additionally, the book’s readers – in particular graduate students who are interested in collaborative work – will benefit from our behind-the-scenes accounts that highlight matters that deserve greater attention and care when researching collaboratively.
For more information about this book please see our website.
If you found this interesting, you might also like Languaging Myths and Realities by Qianqian Zhang-Wu.