Academic Writing and Generation1.5: Pedagogical Goals and Instructional Issues in the College Composition Classroom
The adult education field is beginning to look more closely at assisting students in transitioning to secondary schooling opportunities, meaning, programs need to focus on developing academic literacy skills. This resource addresses Generation 1.5 students and their particular needs to develop academic writing skills. Singhal defines who is considered Generation 1.5, why they fall into this category, the general academic issues they encounter, and the writing skills they need to be successful in a college setting (two-year or four-year).
In the first part of this paper the author states that Generation 1.5 students are different from traditional English as second language speakers and therefore need distinct supports to fill the gaps that have occurred in their learning and transition successfully into college writing. The second (and larger) portion of this paper addresses three main components of academic English (linguistic, cognitive, and language discovery), three main skill areas of academic English (communication, critical thinking skills, and research skills), and academic writing pedagogy and how they apply to Generation 1.5 learners. The author provides clear tables to help synthesize the information for the reader. This resource serves as a general roadmap for anyone developing a transitional writing class, developing an academic writing class, or simply trying to understand what writing skills they need to begin to address in their classes.
There is much talk about transition now, but teaching writing seems to receive the least attention. Yet, clear and appropriate writing is critical to achievement in an academic setting. This resource is of great value to the field because it thoroughly analyzes the components of academic writing and offers many concrete suggestions for application in the ESL classroom. It offers a clear guide to help teachers and students understand the nature of academic writing and all of the skills that good writers bring to bear on the academic writing task. Furthermore, the author’s description of Generation 1.5 and its special needs in the academic arena is quite accurate and useful. The bulk of the article is a very comprehensive discussion of the many skills that Generation 1.5 needs in order to succeed in a university classroom. A very good resource!
- The author, Singhal, describes a range of Generation 1.5 learners in a way that sorts their distinct profiles and needs (e.g., born in the U.S., arrived at an early age, arrived at a later age, in-migrants, parachute kids). It explains why this whole group may not have acquired the necessary skill set for academic work and why additional instruction in writing is needed. A chart on p. 2 describes the general characteristics of Generation 1.5 Students.
- The resource maps out the features of academic English which are “definable and teachable” in the linguistic, cognitive and research domains and provides numerous clear suggestions for each area.
- A chart outlines the design of an upper level writing course. The chart is a concise guide for teachers and learners and clarifies what knowledge and skills are required to be successful in writing.
- The resource advocates for explicit instruction in this area; demonstrates the importance of teaching grammar and the conventions of research; and makes it evident that writing is often a decision–making process.
- Singhal’s list might be overwhelming to some, especially as the skills are not prioritized in any way. Nor does the author, make mention of affective components of learning and how they might impact the university writing classroom. Rather, she often mentions the “importance” of grammatical accuracy in academic writing, whereas, some research has shown that too much emphasis on the grammatical aspect of writing is not helpful (see Dvorak, T. (1986). Writing in the foreign language: Listening, reading and writing: Analysis and application. Paper presented at the Northeast Conference on Teaching of Foreign Languages, Middlebury, VT.).