World Englishes in the Mainstream Composition Course: Undergraduate Students Respond to WE Writing

Publication Title

Research in the Teaching of English

Publication Date


Document Type



composition course, language, linguistic diversity, World Englishes


Arts and Humanities | Rhetoric and Composition


Even as globalization has transformed communication into a multicultural experience, composition programs in American academia continue to promote a prescriptive approach to language(Katz, Scott, & Hadjioannou, 2009; Richardson, 2003), encouraging students to incorrectly assume that “there is only one right way to use written language” (Lovejoy, 2003, p. 92). This approach can foster biased attitudes among our students while leaving them unprepared for interaction with linguistically diverse populations and users of World Englishes (WEs) in particular.Composition courses should prepare students for multicultural communication by increasing their awareness of WEs and developing the skills they need to interact with their WE peers at school, in the workplace, and in their home communities. This study looks at the impact such an approach can have on American students’ perception of World Englishes, generally, and WE texts, specifically. Interviews, surveys, and essays were used to explore the language attitudes of American college students before and after they participated in several activities meant to develop their knowledge of linguistic diversity and to familiarize them with World Englishes. The research provided encouraging signs of a possible correlation between increased knowledge about linguistic diversity and positive language attitudes.