The Role of Writing in an English as a Foreign Language Teacher Preparation Program in Turkey: Institutional Demands, Pedagogical Practices and Student Needs

Aylin Ünaldı, Lisya Seloni , Şebnem Yalçın , Nur Yiğitoğlu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


As the lingua franca of scientific and academic communication, second language (L2) writing has an important role in professional and academic success in Turkey. Yet, similar to the nature of foreign language (FL) writing instruction in other non-English dominant contexts, writing instruction in Turkey, too, has been ‘dependent upon a whole set of material conditions and social practices that do not necessarily coincide with those of [E]SL contexts’ (Manchón, 2009: 2). In such contexts, learning and teaching writing is highly dependent on issues such as the language users’ actual and perceived language proficiency, their prior L1 and L2 literacy experiences, and the sociolinguistic role of English (particularly English writing) in the local context (Manchón, 2009; Reichelt, this volume). While language learners in English-dominant settings usually learn how to develop certain approaches to writing mainly due to a necessity for writing in those settings, many EFL users are still on their way to developing language proficiency and hence see writing primarily as a tool to improve their general language skills, as described in Manchón’s (2009) writing-to-learn, i.e. an additional language dimension. As in many English as a foreign language (EFL) settings, L2 writing is not taught as a separate subject area in the Turkish educational system. The only exception to this is those students who choose English as their primary area for university exams and take additional English classes, most of which usually focus on exam-based grammar activities. Even in these cases, the writing they do in these spaces is limited to and does not move beyond short language production through controlled writing such as paragraph and five-paragraph essay writing. Therefore, it is not usual for teacher candidates to engage in authentic writing before they start studying at an English-medium university and take discipline-specific courses. The limited attention given to teachers’ preparation for writing in EFL contexts (e.g. Casanave, 2009; Lee, 2010; Reichelt, 2009) is typically attributed to the lack of a need for L2 writing in the larger society. While this might also be true for the Turkish context, there is an increasing use of L2 writing even outside the school environment for many college students, including those who are training to be English teachers. In order to better understand some of the changing material conditions and practices of L2 writing instruction in Turkey, in this study we investigate teacher candidates’ L2 writing experiences and their perceptions about their evolving writing proficiency in different areas of academic writing, as well as the mismatch between their expectations of writing assignments during their first year of an FL teacher preparation program and the reality. More specifically, describing a first year writing sequence in a teacher training program at an English-medium university in Istanbul, we report on a survey study in which we discuss teacher candidates’ general perceptions about and experiences with L2 writing, their experiences in the writing sequence, including the perceived transfer of writing skills they learned during their first year, and finally the perceived congruence of writing task expectations. Through analyzing the first year writing curriculum and a survey conducted with first year teacher candidates, we address two research questions: (1) How is the first year writing curriculum for teacher candidates designed in an English-medium teacher training program at a Turkish university? and (2) What are the Turkish teacher candidates’ perceptions of and experiences with writing during a new first year writing program? In what follows, we first provide some contextual information on the role of English and writing in Turkish EFL teacher education. We then give an overview of the first year writing curriculum at an English-medium (EMI) university, and finally we share the survey results on 98 first year teacher candidates’ perceptions of writing as well as their experiences with writing-intensive courses. The chapter ends with a discussion on an ecological framework for writing instruction for the language development and L2 writing advancement of EFL teacher candidates.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSecond Language Writing Instruction in Global Contexts
Subtitle of host publicationEnglish Language Teacher Preparation and Development
EditorsLisya Seloni, Sarah Henderson Lee
Place of PublicationBristol
PublisherMultilingual Matters
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781788925877
ISBN (Print)9781788925853 , 9781788925860, 1788925866, 1788925858
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameNew Perspectives on Language and Education


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