5.21 Teacher Talk Review (for those who might have missed it):

Strategies for Reading and Engaging Across Modes

CIC workshop

Following the discussion of our previous teacher talk (please see below), we thought about how we can implement some of those creative practices into our actual teaching. In this workshop, we talked strategies!

We started with a strategy on how to teach visual analyses. We looked at the Queen of Wands tarot card and broke our engagement down into steps. First, we picked the card apart by naming all of what we see. We took our time describing what we saw or sensed in the card. Secondly, we read the artist’s intention with the piece by looking up their description within the tarot book (that comes with the card). Third, we listened to what others are saying about the piece, or how other tarot readers or tarot enthusiasts describe and give meaning to the card. Then the grand finale: Taking all of this into consideration, we discussed our own analyses. We took turns offering what we thought the card meant to us. We found that these steps can be applied to engagements in many genres. These steps aren’t necessary the writing about the art object, but rather note-taking to help in the writing process.

We also had some discussion about how to engage with poetry. Poetry allows us to open up to our sensations that we experience while reading the poem. We have to pay keen attention to the rhythm, the line breaks, tone, and structure of the empty spaces. And mostly, we have to ask ourselves, how do we feel with the poem. What bodily sensations does it invoke? This is powerful because poetry, and this strategy to reading poetry, teaches us how to make sense of feelings and sensations as viable, critical, necessary reading and engagement practices.

The conversation was dynamic and invigorating. Both strategies complement each other. Both allow students to bring in their own interpretation of art and poetry while also critically engaging in a community to help foster understanding.



5.1 Teacher Talk Review (for those who might have missed it):

The Creative Teacher

Round table discussion

What a fun conversation this was! There were 13 participants–– a mixture of faculty, creative writing instructors and students, and EWP/ IWP instructors. Such as collective was bound to reap abundant discussions! The guiding questions for this talk centered around how we bring in our creative side to our composition classrooms. Many of us in the English department, and as writers in general, have a creative mindset and way of looking and understanding the world. It’s difficult to be in a field that can sometimes be rigid and regiment in its studies (ew, grammar). We want to feel free in our teaching and learning to branch out into different genres, modalities, structures, and so on. We aren’t just writing expository essays. With that, we ask participants to share how they navigate this terrain.

Many of us indicated the need to break out of regiments composition because of the need to diversify learning. A divide between critical studies and creative studies is a false one because sometimes thinking outside of order is necessary to arrive at and engage with radically new work. Introducing creativity allows students to experiment with their ideas and allows them to bring their whole selves to the table. There’s no need to cut off pieces of themselves to fit the mold if the mold container is flexible and malleable. So, we shift our pedagogical practices towards teaching students how to ask appropriate questions and conduct the proper research to create out of the box projects. We find that with these projects students are more in touch with their interests and with other worlds that may have been unfamiliar to them.

We also discussed some assignments to help students build a bridge between creativity and critical projects. We discuss assignments where students are asked to provide a biography for an object or for a space that they’re in. Assignments where they can use alternative mediums, modes, or genres to make their arguments–– like photo-essay, collage, podcasts, or paintings, to name but a few. We also discussed the possibilities of creative writing assignments in an expository classroom, like short stories, comedy essays, and poetry.

In short, we had an engaging conversation about why it’s important for students to feel encouraged to experiment and to be more creative and open in composition classrooms. And we crowdsourced information, activities, and assignments to can help us achieve more creativity in our own teaching practices.

-b. frantece

4.20– Teacher Talk Review (for those who might have missed it):

Making Effective Use of Canvas Tools and Engaging Students

hosted by Ben Wirth, PhD and C.R. Grimmer, PhD

As we navigate how to transition to a fully online learning experience for everyone, Dr. Ben Wirth and Dr. C.R. Grimmer gave us some helpful tips to guide us along. The guiding questions for this talk helped us think about how we can be most accommodating to everyone, both to students and ourselves as teachers, during such a precarious time while also still learning composition, writing, and teaching styles. We inquired about the pro’s and con’s of a fully asynchronous course or a course where everyone regularly meets via web conferences, or the right balance of both. We also discussed some activities that can boost engagement for both async and through a webcam meeting.

To start, Ben gave us an overview of his fully asynchronous class that is still filled with engaging reflective activities. He makes use of Canvas Groups tool; it’s an underused, yet so useful, student-led collaboration tool on Canvas. This is an easy way to do group work and group grading–– just select it as an option when posting the assignment. This tool helps students build camaraderie even though they may not be working all at the same time. For non-graded assignments that can still use group work (and use a tool that you and students may already be familiar with), Ben also suggests Google docs, as the software has tools that encourage sync or async conversations. Ben suggests “archive building” is a great collaborative or group assignment. Also, check out wiki-styles for other fun group work assignments.

C.R. gave us some advice from how she teaches her mix of async/ sync course. For an engaging discussion board post, she suggests avoiding prompts where canned, scripted responses are possible. You know, like right or wrong answers or just copy + paste from the book (or from the internet, let’s be honest). When addressing the prompt, C.R. has students apply their response to a third external text–– like a Youtube video, twitter post, a story, songs, etc.––  that relates to them in ways they can articulate. This way, rather than providing a textbook answer, they can demonstrate their understanding of the concept in authentic, organic ways, as well as bring in their own interests. C.R. builds collaborative engagement during the class synchronous meeting; she has them in groups, and they discuss, question, engage with each other’s responses. As a class, they discuss the post that piqued their interests, and together they unpack the students’ responses. It’s fun!

In all, we had a great discussion, we all were able to talk with each other about our own classes and the strategies we use to help boost engagement remotely. We bounced around ideas, alternative activities, and interactive assignments. I was happy to be there!


Teaching Intertextuality As Community Engagement

By B. Frantece

Many of us teach intertextuality in our courses. It’s a helpful composition strategy, right? As a way of incorporating someone’s idea (with proper citation of course!) into your own ideas and project– kind of as a way of acknowledging that we’re influenced by different people, texts, cultural arts, etc. I like to think of it as a way to put different ideas in conversation with each other and, in doing that, adding to the conversation.

Well, I was strolling down Instagram today, a recent hobby I’ve been practicing more and more lately, and I can across diana ballesteros’s illustrations inspired by the wisdom of adrienne maree brown. Both creators identify as revolutionaries and activists, and, in their own ways, their works are gifts with healing abilities. Their works often ask us how we can learn through moments of uncertainty and precarity.

brown’s lines are about lessons we can learn to survive the end of the world. For example, staying in the moment or finding creative ways to communicate. ballesteros’s illustrations take those words and show how they are embodied through insects. So ballesteros illustrates how crickets, for example, show us that music will get us through, which is a lesson brought forth by brown. Or how caterpillars show us that we need to rest sometimes.

What I love about this moment, and how I think it’s very pedagogical, is that it shows creation/ composition as is a communal effort. We are always speaking and listening to each other when we put forth works into the world. Many of us have heard that wise adage, “we don’t exist in a vacuum.” Some creators are actually embodying that. And not only does collaborative effort allow for interesting and clever projects, but it also serves as a way for us to learn from each other.

Also, art helps up through difficult times and so does community. How can we incorporate those ideas into our teaching practices?


Hi Everyone! I’m BrittNEY Frantece. I’m the new CIC AD, and I thought I’d introduce myself!

I’m a pro-Black, non-binary femme essayist, visual artist, and instructor. I write essays about speculation in Black arts and literature; I read speculative literature and write speculative critical essays. It’s fun. In my art, I’m a digital artist and printmaking. That’s also fun. I work mostly with Adobe illustrator with my digital art, finding simple way to snapshot the mundane in life. I do linocut prints although I’ve been wanting to get into lithography.

As far as teaching, I try to think outside of tradition. I remember being constantly regimented on strict grammar and effective writing rules in school, and I want students to feel safe to rid themselves of that philosophy when they see fit. Sometimes I find people are hesitant of breaking those rules. However, humans aren’t categories, and we don’t always communicate the same meanings, the same way.

I love collaboration! I love bringing together pedological resources so that we can learn from each other. I hope to use the space of the blog, teacher talks and multimodal workshop for just that. Maybe can add some other modes to the mix– podcast, pre-recorded videos. I’m very open to hearing suggestions! If you want to talk, email me at britfran@uw.edu!

I hope to talk soon!

Comics in the Classroom: Teaching Students to Read and Produce Graphic Novels

Assortment of graphic novels

This blog post offers materials and approaches for teaching comics from English 182 instructor Sumayyah Daud and English 131 instructor and graphic novel author Dorian Alexander’s recent workshop on using graphic novels in the writing classroom.

Why teach with comics? This isn’t an art class!

Graphic novels are an accessible medium that help connect students to material in less dense ways. Even if students don’t illustrate their comics, they can write scripts, which are used in the graphic novel world to convey multimodal design information to the artist (here’s a script example you can use in your class). In addition to or instead of creating comics, students can also read and analyze the multiple modes through which these texts convey meaning.

Okay, you’ve convinced me. How do I choose a text and develop assignments?

  • Browse Comixology, an online comics library.
  • Search for texts related to your course content and theme.
  • Consider cost: is the text going to be financially prohibitive for your students?
  • Look for representation. The world of commercial comics is largely white, straight, and male, but there are great independent texts that represent a broader array of characters.
    • Dorian recommends the upcoming queer comics anthology Be Gay, Do Comics by The Nib. I just backed it on Kickstarter, and you can too.
  • If you are asking students to write comics, consider the types of narratives you want students to produce and how you can model those narratives through the texts they read.
  • Adapt the sample prompts and use the texts suggested below.

 How Sumayyah Teaches with Comics

Sumayyah Daud, comics workshop facilitator



My first and second sequences lead up to students producing a comic. The first sequence ends with a fully-developed pitch, and the second sequence ends with a script. 

Sumayyah’s Teaching Resources:

  • Visual analysis PowerPoint (Warning: includes spoilers for Monstress)
  • Assignment sequences 1&2
    • Note from Sumayyah: This was my first time teaching 182. When I teach it again, I think I am going to move MP1 and structure my sequence as SA1, SA3, SA2, SA4, MP1, MP2. The second MP has space for shorter assignments built in (the outline and peer review), and this arrangement makes more sense in terms of skill scaffolding. I felt there was a lot of yoyo-ing this quarter in part because I was trying to find my feet in a new reading curriculum, and I think this arrangement would rectify that. This arrangement would also allow me to organically scaffold critical considerations of their work, instead of going back and forth between the creative aspect and the critical aspect.

How Dorian Teaches with Comics

Dorian Alexander, comics workshop facilitator

I’ve taught with comics in all my English and History courses. I find that comics are becoming a global touchstone of sorts and are therefore excellent aids in diverse classrooms. My current pedagogical favorites include Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele and Nat Turner by Kyle Baker.

Join us for upcoming CIC workshops, “Teaching with Video Games,” facilitated by Sophia Chen on Friday, November 22nd from 11:30-12:30 in MGH 082 and “Teaching Critical Technologies” facilitated by Caitlin Postal on Thursday, December 5th from 3:30 to 4:30 in MGH 082.


Thank you to the workshop participants and facilitators, Sumayyah Daud, Dorian Alexander, Sara Lovett, Jake Huebsch, Dino Kladouris, and Rachel Dusin for collaboratively generating the ideas presented in this blog post.

Teaching with Board Games: Playtesting the Curriculum

Written by Sara Lovett

On May 3, the board game pedagogy group met to “playtest” two prompts for analyzing and remixing board games. We used the social deduction game The Resistance (available at the library) to demo the curriculum. Below, I have included the revised prompts along with notes on our discoveries. Please feel free to adapt these prompts for use in your own classroom.

Game board and pieces for the game The Resistance

Prompt 1: Rhetorical analysis of a game

Teacher Notes

  • We found it useful to do a visual analysis activity before playing the game or even learning the rules. In our analysis, we noticed the the game is inaccessible to players with significant visual impairments since gameplay relies on images and text but offers no alternative. This realization led me to discover the website Meeple Like Us, which takes a human-centered design approach to board games, reviewing, critiquing, and offering solutions to accessibility barriers in board games. In case you’re interested, here is their review of The Resistance.
  • Depending on the length of the game, it could be played over two 50-minute class sessions, one 2-hour session, or as homework. If the game is assigned as homework (students could play it with classmates or friends), it may be beneficial to use class time to demonstrate gameplay with a fishbowl-style exercise so all students can either play or watch the game one time in class.
  • We suggest that students can focus on a different element of the game during each playthrough, but students could also each analyze a different element (e.g., interactive, rules, narrative, tactile, visual) across the three playthroughs and then compare notes.
  • Alternate assignment: students can create a disruptive “Let’s Play”/”Tabletop”/”Geek & Sundry”-style video in which they critique the game as they explain how to play it. This assignment would teach analysis, critique, and genre awareness.


Before this assignment, students should learn about complex claims and stakes. It would be helpful to include a lesson on visual analysis too.


Before you play, analyze the visual and tactile design elements of the game. What claims do the game pieces (cards, boards, tokens, dice, etc.) make? Play the game at least three times. Discuss your observations with the other players at the end of each playthrough and/or while you are playing.

  1. The first time you play, observe the rules, game pieces, and story. Make sure you understand the game, the claims, messages, and stories that the game communicates  and how the rules and pieces help facilitate communication.
  2. During your second play-through, pay attention to the overall narratives of the game. What claims does the game make through the rules and the story? What are the stakes of listening to or believing those narratives outside of the game?
  3. During your third play-through, return to your analysis of the game pieces. How do they serve as evidence to support or contradict the game’s claims? Or, do these elements make their own sub-claims?
  4. Write a rhetorical analysis (2-3 pages) of this game’s claim and how effective it is or is not. Use specific examples.

Students will be able to…

  • Identify claims and evidence in a multimodal text.
  • Rhetorically analyze a multimodal text.
  • Explain the stakes of a claim and how it could have an impact beyond the text itself.
  • Critique narratives, claims, and ideologies that underlie texts.

Prompt 2: Disruptive Remix of a Game

Teacher notes:

  • We got caught up on the concept of “disruptive” remixes. We had lots of ideas for remixing the game, but many of them did not critique the game. This is something to be aware of if you’re using this assignment: students might not be clear on what qualifies as disruptive, which is where examples may be useful.
  • Here are some disruptive remixes we thought of in various stages of development:
    • Because we identified visual accessibility limitations with the game in our analysis, we wanted to remix the game so it could be played by sighted and non-sighted people. Some ideas we had were adding tactile markers to the cards to differentiate them and creating a digital version of the game that uses text rather than images so it would be compatible with screen readers. We did not have time to build out a full prototype, but we discussed that we would need to do a lot of research and, ideally, playtest the game with non-sighted people to know whether our remix was effective. Limitations involving audience, resources, and time should be accounted for when students are prototyping their projects.
    • Instead of using guns as an image in The Resistance, we pondered how we could use memes to represent the spread of ideologies online.
    • Using the game Pandemic, we wanted to remix the game to reflect actual responses to real-world epidemics. For example, we could research an epidemic and revise the game’s mechanics to imitate real-world responses to make a claim about uneven resource allocation between the global North and South in medicine.


Before this assignment, students should learn about remix, critique, design strategies, and group work strategies.

Return to the stakes you wrote about in the previous assignment. What negative or positive consequences might result from the claims that this game makes? In this assignment, you will revise the game’s elements (story, rules, and/or design) to make a new claim.


  • Option A: Identify a problematic claim that the game makes and remix the game to make a more productive/ethical/equitable claim.
  • Option B:Identify a claim that this game makes that does not reflect real-world conditions. Remix this game to make a claim about the way the world is. Your claim should use the game to critique those real-world conditions.
  • Option C: Identify an accessibility limitation in this game and remix the game to address that issue. To identify solutions, you will need to do research, and you may benefit from recruiting playtesters from outside of our class.

Students will be able to…

  • Make, critique, identify, and respond to claims.
  • Remix multimodal texts.
  • Apply basic design principles.
  • Work productively in groups.

What’s next for the teaching with board games group?

Some of our ideas include full, fleshed out sequences for teaching with board games including more prompts and lesson plans; a workshop series in the fall on teaching with other types of games such as video games, tabletop roleplaying games, or live-action roleplaying games; and a gaming pedagogy workshop in the fall geared specifically toward new instructors. 

Links to check out the games in the library are below:

Teaching with Board Games

By Sara Lovett

Four graduate students set up for the board game workshop.

On April 5, the UW Libraries and CIC co-sponsored an event on teaching with board games. The libraries have six board games (Risk, Betrayal at the House on the Hill, Settlers of Catan, Pandemic, Dominion, and The Resistance) available for check-out as part of a pilot program. At our event, participants rotated through stations and each learned about three of the six games and brainstormed how they might use these games as part of their teaching. In this post, I will recap overall takeaways and present specific ideas related to three of the six games.


  • Games are ideologically-rich, and they are an excellent site for critical analysis. Dominion and Settlers of Catan, for example, replicate a settler-colonialism narrative whereas Pandemic offers up a narrative of consent and transnational, interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • One attendee, Dorian, drew upon scholarship from comic studies to point out that games are easier to analyze than books or movies because of distance from the material.
  • Though it is not usually possible for all students to play a game at the same time, we came up with several solutions: 1) students can check out and play the game as homework, a task that would also orient them to the library’s space reservation and course reserves systems, 2) instructors can use a “fishbowl” structure, in which students alternate between playing the game and analyzing play while observing their peers, writing reflections and engaging in discussions on both experiences 3) students can use free online clients such as Dominion Online (https://dominion.games/) to play some games, and 4) for some of the games, instructors can request additional copies via interlibrary loan.
  • Games offer a site for students to engage with multiple modes (e.g. tactile, visual, spatial) and reflect on the literacy skills they used to learn and play the game.

Betrayal at the House on the Hill and Genre

Betrayal at the House on the Hill board game tiles and character pawns

Betrayal at the House on the Hill (click the link for a playthrough video from Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop series) is a narrative game in which players explore a house. Players explore a house by flipping over tiles and moving figures representing their characters from room to room. Characters’ traits change through items and rooms they encounter (e.g., a book might cause your character to gain knowledge). Though players begin on the same team, the “haunt” occurs partway through the game, and one or more players may turn traitor. The traitor(s) and the heroes (the remaining players) each read a separate set of new rules and story elements that affect the rest of gameplay. The game contains 50 haunts, so the gameplay experience varies with each new playthrough.

Betrayal lends itself to analyses of narrative construction and performance as well as genre analysis and production. As students play multiple Betrayal scenarios and/or peruse the game manual, they can take notes on the conventions of the genre of these scenarios. Then, individually or in groups, they can create their own scenario to be playtested by their peers. This activity can generate conversation on the topics of genre, uptake (i.e., do the rules in the scenario “work?” What kind of play is taken up by the playtesters?). Students could even create scenarios that teach particular course concepts (e.g., players need to construct a complex claim in order to successfully leave the house).

Pandemic and Remix

Pandemic board game board, cards, and character pawns

Pandemic is a cooperative game in which 1-4 players act as the world’s top public health specialists collaborating to stop four pandemics. We noticed as we were discussing this game that it facilitates narratives about cross-national collaboration–the players can travel easily between cities, and though there are four regions, there are no explicit borders between nations–and about consent: the dispatcher role card states that this player must gain “consent” before moving another player on the game map. This game offers opportunities for discourse analysis and remix. Specifically, we thought about how students might revise Pandemic to reflect real-world conditions such as unequal resources privileging the global North over the global South, international borders hindering collaboration, and separate research agendas and incentives for each player (think culture jamming for the classroom).

Dominion and Visual Analysis

Dominion board game cards

Dominion is a deck-builder (i.e., a game in which each player acquires, draws, and plays cards throughout the game). The rules of the game are simple: players play cards, take actions (denoted on individual cards), and buy cards.

We spent most of our time at this table discussing the theme, which is best summarized by the game’s creator, Donald X. Vaccarino:

You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams! You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion! In all directions lie fiefs, freeholds, and feodums. All are small bits of land, controlled by petty lords and verging on anarchy. You will bring civilization to these people, uniting them under your banner.

But wait! It must be something in the air; several other monarchs have had the exact same idea. You must race to get as much of the unclaimed land as possible, fending them off along the way. To do this you will hire minions, construct buildings, spruce up your castle, and fill the coffers of your treasury. Your parents wouldn’t be proud, but your grandparents, on your mother’s side, would be delighted (Dominion game manual).

There is much to analyze in the opening text alone, and the cards offer even more material to unpack. We noticed, for instance, that most of the cards are gendered and raced in ways that uphold stereotypes. We wondered how the game itself would change if the images on the cards were replaced and nothing else were changed. Students could undergo this project as part of a visual analysis or a word inquiry project, investigating the origins of words like “witch” and “bureaucrat” and interrogating the relationship between card names, images, and game mechanics.

Playtesting the Curriculum

Certainly, there are many more ways to use these games in the classroom. What are your ideas? Feel free to share in the comments or at our next event on May 3rd, which will build upon the first. Participants will “playtest” a curriculum that I am developing based on the insights from the first event. I hope to see you there!

Acknowledgements: Thank you to the attendees of this event for collectively generating knowledge. I am especially grateful to Elliott Stevens for his continued support in facilitating this partnership with the libraries and to Holly Shelton and Ahmed Al Awadhi for serving as roundtable leaders (as well as photographers and editors).

Translation Apps and Pedagogy in Writing Classroom

Co-written by Gust Burns, Kevin deVoss, Katie King, Sumyat Thu

Rise of Translation Apps in Education

At the Praxis 2018 conference, Gust Burns, Kevin deVoss, and Katie King facilitated a roundtable discussion based on their research on the implications of the rise of using translation apps in higher education. Burns discussed a Marxist critique of machine translation app like Stepes. In 2015, the multinational localization company CSOFT debuted Stepes, the first on-demand and just-in-time human translation platform.  Self-described as the “Uber of translation,” the platform contracts individual bilinguals to translate texts on-demand for business customers. As the Stepes website puts it: “By seamlessly connecting businesses and individuals with the world’s linguists through our on-demand translation eco-system, we help break down language barriers between businesses and their customers, and among nations and people.” In Burns’ words, we can understand the mechanics of Stepes, along with both machine translation in general, by thinking with Marx in the Grundrisse, about machines, as manifestations of fixed capital that function not to “transmit the worker’s activity to the object,” as we normally think about labor in early industrial and even Fordist production, but rather so that “the machine’s work, the machine’s action” is maintained and supplemented by the human activity, the latter which becomes “a mere living accessory of this machinery” (692, 693). In other words, as human activity becomes subservient to the active determining functionality of machinery, human capacity is increasingly inseparable from its position within machines, it becomes fully subsumed, in a real way, under capital.

In deVoss’s work on computer-assisted language learning (CALL), he mentions much of pedagogical literature on CALL seems to focus on questions of  “best practices,” and ways to implement particular tech products into the classroom. But deVoss points out that what is missing is sufficient critical inquiry into these products, and of the ideological assumptions behind them as they spread into the wider academic ecology. Tech commodification has certainly touched postsecondary English language education significantly. For instance, Duolingo, which is probably the most popular language learning application currently on the market, has already set up English placement testing services within a lot of well-known universities. Many of the most popular massive open online courses (or MOOCs) through for-profit services like Coursera and edX, and who sponsor coursework at many American universities, have developed a lot of English language learning content both domestically and internationally.

Using discourse analysis methods, deVoss looked at media statements made by the creators of these kinds of tech-ed companies and found that the word “disruption” kept recurring with regard to the higher education system. “Disruption” is a kind of loosely-defined buzzword within Silicon Valley and associated with a variety of meanings, including: “innovation,” “marketization,” and even “destruction.” Of course, in these accounts, tech-ed industry figures unanimously viewed disruption as a necessary, positive project for the higher education system. But deVoss also finds that the “disruption” of English language education in higher ed was associated with a lot of troubling trends, including: the introduction of more student fees, higher course costs, low course completion rates, and disinvestment in faculty and academic student employment and compensation.

Google translate: Youtube or Vimeo?

In King’s research on Google Translate as a tool for literary translation, she argues that the process for “training” an AI algorithm is not only something we humanists can understand but also should understand, and teach. A machine translation tool is just that, a tool that has been created by human beings, and not all the available tools perform equally.  Google Translate not only did not perform well translating a complex literary paragraph from Spanish into English, it also did not learn from King’s feedback over time. But King found other researchers in Europe who have experimented with building their machine translation tool specifically trained to translate literature between French, German and English. Their results were limited but much better. King’s advice to researchers and instructors is to inform themselves for the benefit of their own knowledge about these evolving tools, and to introduce to their students the concept that they must check the results of translation tools carefully.

Translation Pedagogy in Writing Classroom

While teachers should be aware of the possible downsides of using translation technology as part of their pedagogy, encouraging multilingual students to use their human translation capacity has been found to be a helpful writing pedagogy. For example, Eun-Young Kim, an English language and second-language writing scholar at Southwestern Adventist University, asks her Korean and English speaking multilingual students to do translation exercises in order to raise students’ metacognitive awareness about how they write and things they may have missed in their writing process. In the first exercise, students were asked to read the final versions of their English essay writing and translate their own writing into Korean. Kim emphasizes that they should translate their writing as if it had been written by someone else. After finishing the translation, the students were asked to hand in a written response describing what they felt and learnt while translating their own writing into Korean.

Some students reflect:

“After I translated my writing into Korean, I discovered a lot of mistakes. There were many unconnected sentences. I think translating our own writing into Korean is important in order to measure our true writing skill.”

“Before I translated my writing into Korea, I had thought that my writing was pretty good. But when I tried to translate it, I was surprised that my expression was inadequate and the content was insufficient. Some of my sentences were not exactly what I meant.”

“I had to revise my writing four times while I was translating. Some sentences are smoothly connected, but others were a little too forced. I also realized that I missed some details because I was concentrating on my English. I like my introduction better this time. I could discover my mistakes more easily when I translated my composition into Korean.” (Please see the rest of the quoted students’ reflections on the article here).

It’s a great result for students’ self-assessment through translation that students are reporting they could have had better sentence transitions, logical connections, and more details in the writing. This level of self-assessment seems to engage students in a process of possible substantial revision  that goes beyond merely checking for lower-order concerns such as conforming to Standard Edited English grammar or mechanics.

In the second exercise, Kim asks her students to work with a peer partner and translate their partner’s English essay into Korean. Students were then asked to respond to their partner’s translation to see how accurate the translated essay was. Some students respond:

“I was very much afraid if my composition would clearly deliver my message to my partner. When I read my partner’s translation of my composition, I found out that she understood my composition differently from what I meant in the writing. I feel that my English was unclear; that’s why my partner didn’t understand it correctly …”

“The translated text is not what I meant. I wish my partner had translated my writing better. Professor [addressing me], I added some words to the translation in order to make my meaning complete. I think this [miscommunication] is because my composition is not clear.”

Though the second exercise is more complicated with the possible room for misreading and misinterpretation by a peer-partner, both of the exercises indicate that when multilingual students engage in translation between their languages, it heightens their rhetorical awareness and self-assessment ability to more clearly see where the students might have fallen short in composing their text and the different choices they can make because of this awareness. Multilingual students might also begin to critically reflect on cultural rhetorics and contexts behind using a particular language which might help them become sharper language users and writers.

Works Consulted:

Eun-Young Kim, “Using translation exercises in the communicative EFL writing classroom,” ELT Journal, Volume 65, Issue 2, April 2011, Pages 154–160.

New CIC AD Introduction

Hello! I’m Sara Lovett, the new CIC/182 AD starting this quarter and continuing through next winter. Sumyat has completed her term as the CIC AD, and she is teaching this quarter, so you can contact me with any 182/CIC concerns.

Any class can be multimodal and/or make use of technology, so even if you’re not teaching in a CIC classroom this quarter, please get in touch if you’d like to talk about how to engage with multimodality through your teaching. I am also now your primary contact (slovett@uw.edu) if you would like to reserve a CIC classroom.

My own interest in multimodality is rooted in in game studies and my experience as a board gamer. I’m the Graduate Representative for the Council for Play and Gaming Studies, a cross-institutional group of writing instructors who research and teach through and about games. I’m more than happy to talk about teaching with games. In fact, EWP and the UW Libraries are running a workshop on Friday, April 5 in Red C in the Research Commons (Allen Library) to discuss how to teach using the board games that the library has on reserve. Don’t let this shameless plug be go to waste–come talk about games with us on Friday!

In addition to game studies, I focus on the role of access, social justice, and civic engagement in writing education through the lens of antiracist pedagogy. I’m happy to talk about any of those topics too if they are of interest to you.

Keep an eye on this blog; I’ll be posting periodically throughout my time as the CIC AD. In the meantime, reach out–I always love talking about teaching!