Michigan State University
Michigan State University
English Language Center
Learning Symposium

Real-World Writing in ESL Classrooms

April 8, 2017 | Michigan State University 


Keynote Presentations



Writing for Academic Purposes: Knowing When, Where, to Whom and How to Write 

Christine Feak | Lecturer and Author,
University of Michigan

The type of writing instruction that can best help students enter the academic discourse community has been a focus of ongoing debate among scholars and practitioners. A central issue here is how to create opportunities that facilitate our students’ efforts to acquire an understanding of academic writing practices that are based on complex sets of inter-related factors, including disciplinary discourses and values as well as the students’ own identities as writers (Street 2010). How can we help students construct texts that are sensitive to the institutional and audience expectations of their areas of study and the unique “ways of knowing”, “ways of doing” and “ways of writing” in different academic communities (Carter 2007)?

In this presentation we will focus on instructional strategies that can help students and instructors unpack the writing knowledge and skills that are necessary not only for students to participate in, but succeed in their academic communities. These strategies require that students and instructors act as researchers of texts of all different types, especially texts that they may be expected to write in contexts other than a writing or language classroom. We will also explore the potential of these strategies to facilitate the transfer of newly acquired discourse knowledge to these other contexts. 

Christine Feak is a faculty member at the English Language Institute, University of Michigan, where she is the lead lecturer for academic writing courses. Christine also holds a faculty appointment in the African Studies Center, University Michigan, in which she serves as the writing mentor for the University of Michigan African Presidential Scholars, a program that supports the development of the next generation of African scholars. She is co-author of the widely acclaimed textbook entitled Academic Writing for Graduate Students, and also the new English in Today’s Research World book series focused on the writing of research genres and subgenres. In addition to teaching and textbook writing, she also serves as co-editor of English for Specific Purposes, an international peer-reviewed journal focusing on topics relevant to the teaching and learning of discourse for specific communities. Her editorial work extends to the University of Michigan Press where she is an editor of the Michigan Series in English for Academic & Professional Purposes.

Christine has conducted writing for publication workshops for university faculty in disciplines ranging from Applied Linguistics to Thoracic Surgery and in a variety of countries, including Germany, Spain, Japan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Ghana and Ethiopia. Her current research interests include academic writing in education, medicine, and business; the academic writing and writing for publication needs of scholars in developing countries; and the development of effective academic writing curricula.




Revolutionizing Education: Building Peace in a Divided World

Aziz Abu Sarah | Cultural Educator, National Geographic Explorer, and TED Fellow

Aziz Abu Sarah shares how education played a major role in his transformation from a radical to a peace builder, and how his educational work in Syria, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, and the United States has helped bridge the gap between hostile communities. Abu Sarah explores how education has the power to heal conflicts, from the geopolitical stage to the classroom.

Aziz Abu Sarah is a National Geographic Explorer and Cultural Educator, as well as a TED Fellow. He is the co-founder of MEJDI Tours, a social enterprise focused on introducing multi-narrative cultural education and responsible business practices to the travel industry. The company aims to redefine the meaning of travel and its clients include National Geographic, Notre Dame and Boston University.  MEJDI has been recognized by the UN World Tourism Organization, UN Alliance of Civilizations, and BMW Group for its innovations in travel and education. In the past, Aziz also served as the Executive Director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University (2009-2015), and was the chairman of the joint Israeli-Palestinian organization the Bereaved Families Forum (2006 to 2010).

In the field, Aziz has pioneered and managed projects in conflict resolution and community relations in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Washington D.C, the Virgin Islands, and other sites. He is the co-director of the “I Am Your Protector” interfaith campaign. He also is a cofounder of Project Amal ou Salam, a grassroots relief organization for Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.  

In the media, Aziz has co-produced and hosted the National Geographic web series Conflict Zone, a series that explores the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the perspective of Palestinian refugees, the Israeli Defense Forces, Jewish settlers, and more. Aziz has also published articles in the New York TimesHaaretz, the Jerusalem PostAlarabiya, and others. He frequently provides expert analysis for television news programs such as Al JazeeraCNN and Fox

Aziz has been honored to receive numerous awards, including the Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East from the Institute of International Education, the Silver Rose Award from the European Parliament, the Eisenhower Medallion from People to People International, and the Eliav-Sartawi Award for Middle Eastern Journalism from Search for Common Ground. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recognized Aziz Abu Sarah’s work during his speech at the 5th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations in February 2013, and the UNAOC and BMW Group awarded him the intercultural innovation award in 2011. and Aziz has been named one of the “500 Most Influential Muslims” by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre for six years running (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015).