Crossing Borders, Writing Texts, Being Evaluated

This month we published Crossing Borders, Writing Texts, Being Evaluated edited by Anne Golden, Lars Anders Kulbrandstad and Lawrence Jun Zhang. In this post the editors explain how the book came together.

Zoom and Teams are wonderful for communication, but, alas, they cannot make up for real encounters with new and inspiring colleagues at international conferences. This book is the results of such a get-together. As Norwegian researchers in the field of second language learning and use, we have long been concerned with how some groups of students struggle to satisfy the requirements of language mastery in the new country, particular when it comes to writing. How great then to meet and get to know researchers from other corners of the world having the same concerns! Two of us met at the 14th Symposium on Second Language Writing in Auckland, New Zealand in 2015 and then three of us incidentally met again in 2017 at the American Association for Applied Linguistics in Portland, USA.

We all wondered if the experiences some groups of students had from their prior schooling with writing texts did not match the expected way of writing in the new language or in the new areas of study. Do the language tests they have to take function as strict gatekeeping with borders too difficult to cross or bars too high to jump? For us this was a question of social justice and we saw the task of teachers and researchers as a two-front struggle: On one front, scholars should critically examine testing regimes and raise public awareness about the hidden agendas implicit in language tests. On the other front, scholars should develop research-based knowledge about tests and testing practices, including concealed or unconscious norms as well as raters’ bias, so that institutions of adult education, schools and universities can better prepare learners for the tests they are required to take. We decided to address these questions at the next Sociolinguistic Symposium, which happened to be in Auckland the year after. This is where this book started, at the colloquium in Auckland in 2018. Now it is out. Zoom and Teams would not have been able to initiate this.

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.