Teaching Elementary ESL Writing in Canada

Teacher Preparedness and Challenges


  • Subrata Bhowmik University of Calgary
  • Marcia Kim University of Calgary




ESL writing, elementary, writing literacy, teacher preparedness, teacher challenges


Writing is an important skill for children’s academic success (e.g., Fitts et al., 2016), underlining the need for effective ESL writing instruction in the elementary classroom (Brisk, 2012; Mohr, 2017; O’Hallaron, 2014). However, there is a paucity of research on elementary ESL writing instruction in Canada. Specifically, we have little understanding about the pedagogical practices in this context. To fill this gap, this paper reports on findings of a study that investigated: (a) factors that influence teacher preparedness, and (b) challenges teachers encounter in teaching ESL writing. Eight elementary teachers, each with at least three years of teaching experience, participated in the study. Data were collected from interviews and online surveys. Findings suggest that teacher preparedness was affected by four factors: (a) background knowledge of teaching ESL writing, (b) professional learning opportunities, (c) self-learning and experience as a teacher, and (d) collaboration, mentorship, and support for teachers. The challenges teachers encountered were grouped into five categories: (a) making sense of the writing curriculum, (b) finding relevant resources, (c) lack of time, (d) difficulty providing feedback, and (e) parental involvement at home. Drawing on these findings, the paper discusses implications and recommendations for ESL writing instruction in the elementary classroom.

Author Biographies

Subrata Bhowmik, University of Calgary

Subrata Bhowmik is associate professor of teaching in Language and Literacy at the Werklund School of Education of the University of Calgary. His academic interests include L2 writing and sociocultural approaches to L2 education.

Marcia Kim, University of Calgary

Marcia teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. Her research interests are in teaching and learning English as an Additional Language and second language writing. 





How to Cite

Bhowmik, S., & Kim, M. (2023). Teaching Elementary ESL Writing in Canada: Teacher Preparedness and Challenges. TESL Canada Journal, 40(1), 107–135. https://doi.org/10.18806/tesl.v40i1/1387