The reliability of mean T-unit length: some questions for research in written composition
Composition theory and research are almost exclusively devoted to examining the products and processes of native-speaker writers, skilled and unskilled. ESL student writers have all of the worries of the native speaker and many more besides, for all of them have to acquire or consciously learn the phonology, grammar, syntactic structure, vocabulary, rhetorical structure, and idiom of a new language in addition to learning the mechanics of prose. With so much to be done, it is hardly surprising that many of our ESL composition courses have stressed the acquisition of the rule-governed forms of the second language. The students who do read and write well in their first language also need to work on the new creative activity of forming ideas in English for English-speaking readers. Grammatical accuracy and rhetorical formulae have little force if the piece of writing is not expressing the writer's ideas clearly and forcefully, with an involved imagination.