Sydney harbour water has just the right amount of salt for soup

In this discussion, it is also important to recognize that whatever language individuals
use, and whatever their individual competence, everyone uses language creatively to describe
and engage with the world by constructing and interpreting semantic chunks from the
vocabulary and syntax available in their working memory. LEAL rely on a more restricted
English resource than many native speakers, but have alternative (and often multiple)
language options available to them to express meaning. These choices can, however, also
impact on their English utterances and be read as ‘poor English’ rather than clever, creative
expression. Examples from our own experience include: ‘[T]omorrow is newer than today’
and ‘[S]hallow is when the top of the water is very near the bottom of the water’. Following
Guo’s lead and inspired by Brian Castro’s liberating attitude to teaching creative writing to
non-native English speakers (2011), these texts can be read in terms of their meaning, and
replete with creative, poetic potential in terms of expression, but these qualities might well
pass unremarked if submitted in an academic essay for university-level assessment.
Alison Owens and Donna Lee Brien
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With these issues in mind, we recruited volunteer LEAL from a Sydney university
campus to work on a creative writing project which aimed to concentrate both writers and
academic staff on the meaning of LEAL’s work, rather than the correctness of their
expression in terms of standard English. Participants engaged in two creative writing
workshops and ongoing individual consultations with the academic staff involved. Draft
submissions received from the writers were then reviewed by the project team and
redeveloped by researchers in a number of cycles over a period of twelve months. The
resultant pieces of writing are currently in the process of being published in a print book,
which will also be available as an e-book. The remainder of this discussion looks to the
writings produced in terms of what they can reveal about the potential of recognizing
‘Englishes’ in student (and others’) writing.

 

 

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