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ERIC Number: EJ831195
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 31
ISSN: ISSN-1550-7076
Drawing on Students' Experiences, Cultures and Languages to Develop English Language Writing: Perspectives from Three Lao Heritage Middle School Students
Souryasack, Rassamichanh; Lee, Jin Sook
Heritage Language Journal, v5 n1 p79-97 Sum 2007
Lao students have not fared well in the American educational system. Raised in a home culture that emphasizes and values the oral tradition, the acquisition of academic writing skills has been especially problematic even for U.S.-born students of Lao heritage. Recognizing that writing is a critical component for academic success, this study examines the second language writing experiences of three long-term ESL learners of Lao heritage who took part in a nine-week writing workshop. Analysis of their writings, pre and post interviews, and observational notes from the writing workshops revealed that these students had been unmotivated to write at school. However, joining a community of emerging writers who shared similar social, academic and cultural experiences created a supportive environment for students to write about topics of personal relevance such as community, isolation, and their heritage language and culture. Participation in the workshop was associated with more positive attitudes towards writing, increased motivation, a clearer understanding of the writing process, and improved writing mechanics. Thus, we argue for the need to value, validate, and make visible students' personal experiences, including their heritage cultures and languages, as a critical strategy in motivating students to write. (Contains 3 notes.)
National Heritage Language Resource Center and UC Consortium for Language Learning & Teaching. 1333 Rolfe Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1411. Tel: 310-825-1138; Fax: 310-206-5183; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A