Teaching English as a second language had and still has a lot of various approaches that may be effective or useless in different environments. The articles of Matsuda, Elbow and Ramanathan and Atkinson focus on a more narrow issue concerning teaching of writing among ESL student.
Paul Matsuda in his article Alternative Discourses speculates about the difficulties ESL writers have after entering new discourse. He points out that the student may be a good and skilled writer in his native language, but at the same time may have some problems with composing English texts that usually lack coherence and cohesion or are difficult to perceive. Such a student should take into consideration that the new English discourse becomes a dominant one, so he has to find a way to adjust to its norms and styles. On the other hand, teachers must not prejudge the works of such students, as they often reveal new forms of discourse that can influence the dominant one. It is important to bread understanding and appreciation to the other rhetorical tradition.
Ramanathan and Atkinson in their article Individualism, Academic Writing and ESL Writers lean toward the idea that ESL students, as writers, in order to compose texts in a good quality, should socialize more in the new environment. They criticize the traditional scheme of teaching that consists of voice, peer review, critical thinking, and textual ownership. Their article is a harsh critique of Peter Elbow’s article that positions individualism as an important criterion in foreign students’ writings.
Matsuda combines these two approaches and highlights on the importance of cooperation between teachers and students in order to find a common ground and offer each other a helping hand in understanding of different discourses.