English Language and le ha Essay

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Journal of English for Academic Purposes 8 (2009) 134e146
www.elsevier.com/locate/jeap

Strategic, passionate, but academic: Am I allowed in my writing?
Phan Le Ha
Faculty of Education, Monash University, Australia

Abstract
This article is about the struggles to sustain identity as writers while accommodating the demands of the university experienced
by Arianto and his thesis supervisor, myself. It shows how critical EAP was the on-going conversation between us about how to
negotiate norms, voice and creativity in our writing and in the negotiations Arianto had to make when writing his own essays and
thesis in English and assessing his students’ written works. The article also discusses how my positioning as a writer of two
languages and having a passion for my own voice and identity in writing has influenced the ways I have analysed and interpreted
Arianto’s tensions, contradictions and justifications in his negotiation processes. The findings showcase the ways in which power is
shared and shifted among EAP teachers, supervisors and students and the tendency to recognise and respect different ways of
practising EAP among readers, such as journal reviewers and thesis examiners. They also reveal how Arianto’s readiness and
confidence to share the ownership of and appropriate English as an international language has been exercised in the negotiation
processes involving my support, encouragement as well as critical comments and high expectation of his writing.
Ó 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Critical EAP; Voice and writer identity; Identity and writing; English; Research writing

1. Introduction
This article is about the struggles to sustain identity as writers while accommodating the demands of the university
experienced by Arianto and his thesis supervisor, myself. It shows how critical EAP was the on-going conversation
between us about how to negotiate norms, voice and creativity in our writing and in the negotiations Arianto had to
make when writing his own essays and thesis in English and assessing his students’ written works. The article also
discusses how my positioning as a writer of two languages and having a passion for my own voice and identity in
writing has influenced the ways I have analysed and interpreted Arianto’s tensions, contradictions and justifications in
his negotiation processes. Arianto was an international student from Indonesia and a tutor in an undergraduate
program at an Australian university. I was Arianto’s thesis supervisor, who gave constant feedback on his writing.
Seeing me as his writing mentor, Arianto also often asked for my advice when he had to make difficult decisions
regarding what he felt was acceptable and what the assessment criteria required him to do while marking his students’
work. I am Vietnamese lecturing in an Australian university, have been educated in different educational systems and
exposed to various ways of writing. My own writing values and practice have also been under constant negotiations as
a writer and an examiner.
E-mail address: ha.phan@education.monash.edu.au
1475-1585/$ - see front matter Ó 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.jeap.2008.09.003

P. Le Ha / Journal of English for Academic Purposes 8 (2009) 134e146

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The article features Arianto’s varied stages of appropriation of English for a writing space that seems most
meaningful to his personality, values and identity as a student and teacher simultaneously. The findings showcase the
ways in which power is shared and shifted among EAP teachers, supervisors and students and the tendency to
recognise and respect different ways of practising EAP among readers, such as journal reviewers and thesis examiners.
They also reveal how Arianto’s readiness and confidence to share the ownership of and appropriate English as an
international language (McKay, 2002; Phan Le Ha, 2008) has been exercised in the negotiation processes involving…