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Multilingual writing focus of workshop

Faculty can gain insights on how to better communicate with students through writing at WSU’s annual Writing Across the Curriculum workshop will be 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, May 9-10, in Smith CUE 518. It is open to instructors who use either formal or informal writing in their classes.

This year’s workshop will emphasize understanding and responding to writing from multilingual students. On Monday, participants will learn how to effectively assign writing projects and respond to student writing. On Tuesday, Helen Fox, a lecturer for the University of Michigan’s Sweetland Writing Center and Residential College Social Sciences Program and a national leader in working with multilingual writers, will lead the workshop.

Fox also will deliver a public address, “Listening to the World: Cultural Issues in Academic Writing,” 9-10:15 a.m. Tuesday.

“The United States is becoming more and more multilingual every day,” Fox said. “Every region, every school, is becoming more diverse. Teachers have to become multilingual writing teachers.”

The university is working to increase international student enrollment, and it is important for faculty to understand the cultural and language elements behind multilingual writing, said Lisa Johnson, director of the WSU Writing Center.

“American faculty tend to think that U.S. academic style defines ‘good writing,’ ” said Karen Weathermon, Writing Across the Curriculum director. “But other cultures may perceive ‘good writing’ in other ways.”

Different cultures look for different elements of quality writing, said Adelina Hristova, English as a Second Language specialist for the WSU Writing Center. Some cultures expect the reader to be responsible for knowledge of the writing topic, so the writers write less explicitly than in U.S. academic writing. Other cultures believe writing talent is more about the presentation of ideas, with emphasis on the language and its form.

“The university must become more aware both of how multilingual students express themselves,” said Weathermon, “and of how to translate expectations of U.S. academic writing to our multilingual students.”

For more information on the workshop, contact Weathermon at 335-5488. To sign up for the event, contact Sharolon Carter at 335-7959. Space is limited.

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