cover of book

Changing Practices for the L2 Writing Classroom: Moving Beyond the Five-Paragraph Essay
edited by Nigel A Caplan and Ann M. Johns
University of Michigan Press, 2019
eISBN: 978-0-472-12639-2 | Paper: 978-0-472-03732-2

This volume was written to make the case for changes in second language writing practices away from the five-paragraph essay and toward purposeful, meaningful writing instruction. As the volume editors say, “If you have already rejected the five-paragraph essay, we offer validation and classroom-tested alternatives. If you are new to teaching L2 writing, we introduce critical issues you will need to consider as you plan your lessons and as you consider/review the textbooks and handbooks that continue to promote the teaching of the five-paragraph essay. If you need ammunition to present to colleagues and administrators, we present theory, research, and pedagogy that will benefit students from elementary to graduate school. If you are skeptical about our claims, we invite you to review the research presented here and consider what your students could do beyond writing a five-paragraph essay if you enacted these changes in practice.”
Part 1 discusses what the five-paragraph essay is not: it is not a very old, established form of writing; it is not a genre; and it is not universal.

Part 2 looks at writing practices to show the essay’s ineffectiveness in elementary schools, secondary schools, first-year writing classes, university writing courses, undergraduate discipline courses, and graduate school.

Part 3 looks beyond the classroom at testing. At the end of each chapter, the authors--all well-known in the field of second language writing--suggest changes to teaching practices based on their theoretical approach and classroom experience.

The book closes by reviewing some of the major questions raised in the book, by exploring which questions have been left unanswered, and by offering suggestions for teachers who want to move away from the five-paragraph essay. An assignment sequence for genre-aware writing instruction is included. 

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