Ethnographic approaches and methods in L2 writing research: A critical guide and review

Vai Ramanathan, Dwight Atkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


In this paper, we discuss central concepts and issues regarding ethnographic research in education, particularly as they pertain to studies of L2 writing. After some necessary preliminaries we consider Watson-Gegeo's (1988) six principles of ethnographic research, and then propose our own 'prototype' definition. Following a discussion of some key concepts in our definition, we then review three recent studies of L2 writing which are ethnographic in nature. Next, we discuss the vexing issue of 'generalizability', and consider two further studies of L2 writing in that regard. We end by introducing a series of issues which are critical to recent ethnographic concerns in anthropology and sociology, but which have had little influence so far on ethnographically oriented L2 writing research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-70
Number of pages27
JournalApplied Linguistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Ethnographic approaches and methods in L2 writing research: A critical guide and review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this