Reconsidering Our Rhetorics: Recentering Writing Centre Work To Support Translingual Writing

Dr. Karen-Elizabeth Moroski

Writing centres and Writing Studies are the academy’s locus for expanding and supporting student writers in both self-expression and rigour. The unique position of writing centres as a conversation space and idea space should encourage tutors and administrators alike to consider, and reconsider, and reconsider again: How are we engaging with our writers? And more pointedly: which identities, practices, and beliefs about validity and writing are we reifying when we engage?

The academy’s English – Standard Academic English – is often a second language of sorts even for writers whose home language is English; the walls separating who can and cannot participate in academic life are only built higher for writers whose home languages reflect diverse dialects within English, or whose home language might not be English at all. Thinking of translingual writing not solely as multi-lingual but as indicative of language melding, blending, and creating, we can see that ESL and ELL writers – as well as writers still acquiring Standard Academic English – all contribute unique and valuable ontologies to the academy through their writing. Why do we endeavour to standardize their language? When these writers come into our Writing Centres, how do we address their concerns about code-switching or code-meshing? How do we support faculty and tutors in evolving their practice toward a more inclusive, equitable framework for considering authentic student writing?

Our talk and workshop will centre on developing a framework through which we can talk to our tutors, our staff, and even ourselves about facing our own biases regarding student writing and identity. We will think together about our practices, ways to expand upon them, and whether or not we are ready to implement those evolutions in practice yet. Importantly, too, we’ll think about how to get ready. The lives of our student writers are playing out in realtime; it’s on us to prepare ourselves, our staffs, and our centres to do the important work of supporting our students’ identities within and through their educations.

Dr. Karen-Elizabeth Moroski (she, her, hers) is the Writing Center Coordinator and an Assistant Teaching Professor of English at Penn State University, University Park Campus. She is also a member of the Board for the International Writing Center Association and the Mid Atlantic Writing Center Association, and serves as Associate Editor for WAC Clearinghouse. You can follow her on Twitter at @millennialprof_ or email her at