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The Mid-Atlantic Writing Centers Association

Featured Workshop for Tutors
Saturday 2 - 3 p.m.

"Recognizing and Addressing Cross-Linguistic Influence in Multilingual Writing"

Workshop Leaders: Vanessa Petroj (Bryn Mawr College) and Odia Kane (John Hopkins University)

Cross-linguistic influence refers to the different ways in which one’s native language influences their production and output of their non-native language (Ludovica, 2013).

In this workshop, writing tutors are placed in the role of forensic linguists. Their task: finding the native language of the multilingual writer based on their written text in English. Through analysis, matching, and elimination processes, tutors become aware of cross-linguistic variation, the similarities and differences between languages, and how all these affect English language production in the written medium. Tutors will be given a handout containing a list of languages, their linguistic properties, and examples of how these may be reflected in their sentences in English.

Skills Developed:

  • Cross-linguistic and metalinguistic awareness
  • Familiarity with various linguistic properties that tutors can further investigate or suggest to their directors as a training topic
  • Learning a new way of examining sentence structure
  • Understanding that transfer errors in English are not a sign of incompetence; on the contrary, they are a consequence of competence in an additional language that may manifest itself as cross-linguistic influence.
  • Ability to engage in critical conversations regarding linguistic profiling and develop guiding language for addressing cross-linguistic influence in a curious, yet non-assumptive way.

After completing this workshop, tutors will realize that they do not need knowledge of the entire grammar of English and/or another language to be able to support their multilingual tutees, even in sessions that focus on grammar and sentence structure. Through this engaging activity, tutors develop an appreciation for metalinguistic awareness, which, in turn, creates opportunities for conversations around cross-linguistic variation as an asset-based perspective when tackling writing by multilingual students.

MAWCA is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity. 
Mid-Atlantic Writing Centers Association

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