While writing my research thesis I tried to differentiate between creative, advanced, experienced and academic writers, and found that the definition can either overlap, be close to another or mean nothing of what I thought they meant. I think the same problem holds true if we try to define basic writers. In "Basic Wrting and Second Language Wrtiers: Toward and Inclusive Definition," Matsuda (2003) writes about a quote by Slager (1956) and the problems faced with how definitions can pigeonhole students. Keep in mind that htis happened years ago. "To many teachers and administrators at institutions where ESL programs or courses were already available, “an obvious solution” was “to put the immigrant and the foreign student in the same class, since their test scores prove to be comparable” (Slager 25). Aren't we glad those days are gone? I do think we are better for disregarding this practice.
As this class comes to an end, I think that we will find that the definition of the basic writer doesn't actually mean that much to us. We will be more concerned that the students considered basic writers are in our classrooms, and instead of labeling them, or searching for labels, we will be wondering what strategy works best to help them.
I hope all of us have learned something, or many things, that we can take into our respective classrooms. I wish everyone all the luck in the world.
Matsuda, P. (2003).Basic writing and second language writers: toward and inclusive
definition. Journal of Basic Writing. 22, 67-89.