The potential power of play in second language academic writing

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Research in applied linguistics has shown the potential for language play to have a facilitative role in second language development, with numerous studies exploring how and why language learners play with language in and out of the classroom, as well as the effects of such play. Despite a growing acknowledgement of the value of play in language learning, it play has received little attention in second language writing. This paper explores the potential value of play in the context of academic second language writing, with a specific interest in its implications for instruction. I begin by defining play and its role in human behavior more generally and reviewing the more specific role of language play in second language development. I next turn to examining the potential value of play (including language play and genre play) in academic writing, drawing on relevant research. Finally, I consider how we might help create second language writing classrooms that foster opportunities for play, and I conclude with potential directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100833
JournalJournal of Second Language Writing
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Academic writing
  • Genre play
  • Language play
  • Play
  • Second language writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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