Exploration of self-expression to improve L2 writing skills

  • Verbra Frances Pfeiffer University of Stellenbosch
  • Sivakumar Sivasubramaniam
Keywords: expressive writing, self-expression, qualitative methods, journal entries, social aspects, cognitive aspects, noticeable students and distinguished students


This article focuses on and explores the issue of teaching students to write with some level of fluency.  In light of this, it investigates the use of expressive writing which can develop as the mainstay approach to help students improve their academic writing skills. Teaching students to write with confidence is always a daunting undertaking for any teacher, even more so when they are at a tertiary level. This study was conducted over a semester where a qualitative methodology was used to study autobiographical writing, journal entries and personal-response writing. Our results show that students’ writing improved over a continuum of writing tasks of an evolutionary/daily living nature, through which we explored their self-expression.  The study is predicated on the dynamics and fall-outs of L2 writing at a tertiary setting in Cape Town.  The data provided by the fourteen participants featured in our study were meant to identify the kinds of strategies that could assist L2 students with English Language writing tasks. By the same token, the study was meant to offer useful insights into the educational practice and prevalence of writing for self-expression.


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Author Biographies

Verbra Frances Pfeiffer, University of Stellenbosch
Verbra Pfeiffer is a post doctorate researcher in the Curriculum Studies Department of the Education Faculty at the University of Stellenbosch. She has been a second and foreign language educator for fifteen years and taught English at every grade level ranging from pre-school to university including language centres. She has taught in Switzerland, Germany and South Africa. Her research interests include academic literacy pedagogy, second language advocacy and literature-based language pedagogy. Email: vfpfeiffer@sun.ac.za
Sivakumar Sivasubramaniam
Dr. Sivakumar Sivasubramaniam is Professor and Head of Language Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of the Western Cape and a NRF researcher. He has taught English in India, Ethiopia, Thailand, Bahrain, Armenia, and the U.A.E. His research interests include response-centred reading/ writing pedagogies, literature-based language pedagogies, constructivism in EIL, second language advocacy, narratives in language education and text-based approaches to academic and social literacy practices.Email: ssivasubramaniam@uwc.ac.za  and sivakumar49@yahoo.com