Silence in L2 writing classrooms: Global Perspectives

deadline for submissions: 
August 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
University of New Mexico
contact email: 

Students are often silent in classes. How do teachers interpret silence from students? How do students interpret silence from the teachers? Why do students’ choose to be silent in the classroom? Are teachers aware that students are choosing to be silent? Through the lens of languaging, silence is a linguistic/language device that is less addressed in the research. Like languaging, the use of silence in classrooms can be perceived as “creative and critical use of linguistic resources to mediate cognitively complex activities (Garcia & Wei, 2014, p. 10). Because second language (L2) writers have multiple languages in their linguistic repertoires, silence is one of the strategies that has been misinterpreted by many instructors. Often in L2 research, Asian students are positioned into cultural stereotypes of being “obedient to teachers, lack of critical thinking, and do not participate in classroom interactions” (Kumaravadivelu, 2003, p. 710). There is plenty of research to support this stereotypical view of Asian students and unfortunately such stereotypes still persist in the minds of many educators (Cai, 1999; Ginsberg, 1992; Liu, 2011; Liu and Jackson, 2011; Purdie & Hattie, 1996; Ramanathan & Atkinson, 1999; Ross and Chen, 2015; Scollon, 1994; Shen, 1989; Wang, 2016; Watkins & Biggs, 1996). There has been some research on how silence in the classroom among Asian students may be more complex, but the research is limited and most of the studies are not specifically focused on the concept of silence (Ha and Li, 2014; Shi, 2009). Some studies, such as Yao and Ma (2017), have found that research participants, used “silence as a way to show [their] resistance to the questions raised by the [person in a position of power, ie the therapist]” (p. 220). The Yao and Ma (2017) study does discuss silence as a resistance strategy, but this view of silence is not widely accepted.    


This edited collection aims to discuss how silence in L2 writing classrooms is interpreted from multiple perspectives and contexts -- students, teachers, study abroad both in and outside of the U.S. -- and how silence can be used as a pedagogical tool to enhance L2 students’ learning experiences. We would like invite chapters that address, but not limited to, the following questions:


  • How is silence in the L2 writing classroom theorized?

  • How does silence make you feel as L2 writing teachers?

  • Reflecting back on your experiences in the classroom, why did you choose to be silent?

  • What are the reasons why students in your L2 writing classrooms may be silent?

  • How is silence used as a resistance strategy either by you or by your students?

  • How did you become aware of your students choosing to use silence as a form of resistance?Where in your classes, is silence found? In discussion activities? Large group activities? Written assignments? Why do you think silence is found during these activities?

  • Why do students choose to be silent in the classroom?

  • Are students more silent in writing classrooms in the US or in other countries?

  • How does silence present in writing for publications?

  • How does L2 student’s home culture impact the understanding of silence in classrooms?



  • Authors should submit chapter proposals of 500-750 words (excluding references) to the editors by August 15, 2019

  • Acceptance or rejection emails will be sent by October 30, 2019

  • Full chapters due by December 31, 2019


To submit your proposal,

Please email and the subject line, Silence in L2 writing classrooms.