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Tanita Saenkhum

Tanita Saenkhum

Associate Professor & Director of ESL


Tanita Saenkhum joined the Department of English in Fall 2012. She received her Ph.D. in English with a concentration in Rhetoric, Composition, and Linguistics from Arizona State University. She specializes in second language writing with a focus on writing program administration for multilingual writers. Her research interests revolve around issues related to second language writing, including placement, assessment, and second language writing teacher education. 

Her first book, Decisions, Agency, and Advising: Key Issues in the Placement of Multilingual Writers into First-Year Composition Courses (Utah State University Press, 2016), considers the role of students’ own agency in the placement of multilingual writers—including international students and US residents or citizens who are non-native users of English—in US college composition programs. She has published in Journal of Second Language Writing, WPA: Writing Program Administration, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes. Her scholarship has also appeared in several edited collections. 

She is currently working on two different research projects. The first study aims to construct the history of English writing instruction in Thailand. Her second project, which grew out of her first book, assesses a writing program’s English course placement procedures and placement practices for second language writers, including undergraduate and graduate students. 

She directs the Department of English’s ESL Program and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in second language writing, writing program administration, teaching English as a Second/Foreign language, second language acquisition, and pedagogical grammar for ESL teachers. She also works closely with graduate students who are interested in second language writing and supervises undergraduate students whose concentration is in teaching ESL/EFL. 


Second language writing and research methods 
Placement and assessment 
Writing program administration
Second language writing teacher education


Ph.D. Arizona State University
M.A. Southern Illinois University Carbondale
M.A. Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
B.A. Chiang Mai University, Thailand



Journal Articles

  • “Writing Teachers’ Perceptions of the Presence and Needs of Second Language Writers: An Institutional Case Study.” Journal of Second Language Writing 22.1(2013): 68-86. (with Paul Kei Matsuda and Steven Accardi)

Book Chapters

  • “Working Toward Being a Tenured WPA.” Professionalizing Second Language Writing. Eds. Paul Kei Matsuda, Katherine O’Meara, and Sarah Snyder. South Carolina: Parlor Press (Forthcoming, 2017).
  • “Identity Construction of a Second-Language Educator.” Experiences of Immigrant Professors: Challenges, Cross-Cultural Differences, and Lessons for Success. Ed. Charles B. Hutchison. New York: Routledge. 2015: 213-222. 
  • "Choices in Identity Building as an L2 Writing Specialist: Investment and Perseverance.” Graduate Studies in Second Language Writing. Eds. Kyle McIntosh, Carolina Pelaez-Morales, and Tony Silva. South Carolina: Parlor Press. 2015: 111-125. 

Book Reviews & Annotated Bibliographies

  • “Second Language Writers in College Composition Programs: Towards Awareness, Knowledge and Action.” WPA: Writing Program Administration 35.1 (2011): 199-203. (with Paul Kei Matsuda) 
  • “Review of Learning the Literacy Practices of Graduate School: Insiders’ Reflections on Academic Enculturation, Christine Pearson Casanave & Xiaoming Li (Eds.).” Journal of English for Academic Purposes 9.3 (2010): 244-246.
  • “Second Language Writing and Writing Program Administration.” WPA-CompPile Research Bibliographies, No. 4. WPA-CompPile Research Bibliographies. Tanita Saenkhum and Paul Kei Matsuda. (May 2010).

Professional Service

Chair-Elect, Second Language Writing Interest Section (SLWI-IS), TESOL International Association (2017-2018)

Awards, Honors & Grants

  • Best Faculty Mentor (In the Classroom), Graduate Students of English, Department of English, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 2017

  • Hodges Summer Research Grants, Department of English, University of Tennessee, 2013-2017

  • CCCC Research Initiative (with Paul Kei Matsuda), the National Council of Teachers of English, 2010-2011 (extended to Fall 2015)

  • Nomination for the Chancellor’s Excellence in Teaching Award, University of Tennessee, 2013.

  • Summer Graduate Research Assistantship Award, Office of Research and Engagement, University of Tennessee, 2013
  • CCCC Chairs’ Memorial Scholarship, Conference on College Composition and Communication, 2012
  • Graduate College Completion Fellowship Award, Graduate College, Arizona State University, Spring 2012
  • Albert H. Marckwardt Award Memorial Fund, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, 2009
  • University Graduate Fellowship, Department of English and Graduate College, Arizona State University, Spring 2008
  • Marvin M. Fisher Book Award, Department of English, Arizona State University, Spring 2008

Associations & Organizations

Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC)
Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA)
National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) International Association

Invited Lectures

“Decisions, Agency, and Advising: Key Issues in the Placement of Multilingual Writers into First-Year Composition Courses.” For a Graduate Seminar in Second Language Writing Program Administration, Arizona State University, February 2016 (via Skype). 

“Teaching Second Language Writing: Course Design and Instructional Planning.” Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Program, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, 30 January 2015. 

“Incorporating Theory into Research and Studies: Why, When, and How.” Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand, 5 July 2012.

Tanita Saenkhum

Contact Information

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