Reading, Writing, and Feedback

Receptive skills (reading and listening) affect productive skills (writing and speaking) (Haan & Mallet, 2015). However, while most multilingual learners are developing both kinds of skills, they are also adapting to a new form of English – academic English. Reading, writing, listening, and speaking in academic English is further problematized by the fact that the American academic context might utilize norms that are different from what some of these learners know. Click on the resources on this page to find out how to support students’ understanding of the norms needed to engage in academic English within the American academic context.

Faculty can be part of the students’ support network helping them to understand, develop, and appropriately apply the necessary reading and writing skills in the American classroom context (Phillips, 2014).

Faculty's Frequently Asked Questions

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How can I better asses ML/Int'l students' understanding of readings and class materials?

“Several factors other than language competency can interfere with a student’s ability to understand and critically synthesize assigned readings. Students from different learning and rhetorical backgrounds may have difficulty understanding when it is appropriate to skim a large volume of reading, or how to find the most important ideas in an academic text. Consider giving students a set of comprehension questions for the first few assigned readings—this can help students focus on the ideas you find most important and help them read more efficiently” (Skipper, Helping Multilingual/International (ML/Int’l) Students Succeed: Frequently Asked Questions)

Here are other strategies to help you assess and support students’ understanding of reading and class content.

Useful Resources:

Reading Strategies

Strategies for Comprehension and Engagement

Strategies for Supporting Listening

Learning Outcomes Assessment

How can I better assess student writing and provide more useful feedback on ML/Int'l students' writing?

Although it might be difficult to ignore language errors in student writing, research shows that student writing improves when the feedback focuses on their ideas first, raises few but targeted language notes for students to keep in mind, and requires immediate revision (Hartshon et al, 2010; Bitchener, 2008). Here are some activities and guidelines to implement this kind of feedback in your classroom.

Useful Resources:

Feedback Strategies

Preparing For A Writing Assignment

Preparing For A Writing Assignment--Student Copy

Assessing Writing

What language resources exist on campus that I can refer struggling students to?

The Writing Center and Learning Resource Center are two useful resources to which multilingual students can go to find support with their writing, reading, and language development. Learn more about them by visiting their website:

Mason faculty member, Katie Skipper (INTO Mason), surveyed Mason faculty in 2017 to learn their questions regarding how to teach multilingual learners. These are just some of the questions she found. To see the rest, see her handbook: Helping Multilingual/International (ML/Int'l) Students Succeed: Frequently Asked Questions


Haan, J. & Mallett, K. (2015). English language literacy and the prediction of academic success in and beyond the pathway program. In P. Thomas & P. Takayoshi (eds.) Literacy in practice: Writing in private, public, and working lives. Routledge

Phillips, T. (2014). “Developing resources for success: A case study of multilingual graduate writer.” WAC and second language writers: Research towards linguistically and culturally inclusive programs and practices, 69 – 91. Retrieved from

With small changes to your teaching, you can take advantage of the benefits that multilingual students bring to your class. Nearly half of Mason students are multilingual, and they have different levels of fluency. However, the strategies here are designed to help you support both multilingual and other students.