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Volume 2 Number 1, Spring 2005, Pages 1-205   


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The Process Approach to ESL/EFL Writing

    Deqi Zen


The past two decades witnessed an increasing attention to the development of students' writing competence and the emergence of ESL/EFL writing research as a field of serious inquiry. When an increasing number of non-native English speaking students appeared in institutions of higher education in North America and some other English speaking countries during the late 1970s and early 1980s, the need to equip these students with solid writing skills in order for them to succeed in their education became apparent. As a result, a new writing pedagogy that emphasizes teaching ESL writing beyond language skills began to develop. This new movement generated considerable enthusiasm and research efforts to investigate the nature of ESL/EFL writing and to develop theory-based and research-supported approaches to second language writing instruction. One approach that has had a major impact on second language writing is the process approach. This approach originated from the process movement in teaching composition to native English speakers, which began in the early years of the twentieth century and "reached its zenith in the 1960s and 1970s" in North America (Johns, 1990, p. 25). It developed largely out of the dissatisfaction on the part of writing teachers with the traditional approach that had its primary emphasis on correct usage of grammar and style rather than helping students' develop writing competence. This short essay examines briefly the impact of process approach on second language writing research and instruction over the past two decades and its current development with the belief that a better understanding of this approach can further advance EFL writing.