Shortly before I subscribed to this list, Margaret Clark sent a long post
which a colleague of mine was kind enough to forward to me.  I know there
was a second part, but I respond only to the first.

Before I cogitate, I should summarize my background:  First degree:  BA in
English; First teaching job:  "Spanish-dominant" sixth grade in Hell's
Kitchen, NY; Second teaching job: writing lab tutoring at U of Toronto;
Seond degree:  MA in English; Third teaching job:  ESL in a non-accredited
private school (vacationers from around the globe, lots of formal
education); Fourth teaching job:  ESL in a non-accredited private school
(recent South and Central American working class immigrants, lots of
motivation, little or no formal education); Fifth teaching job: ESL in an
accredited university-parallel program (students wishing to enter American
universities, lots of motivation and formal education); third degree/sixth
teaching job:  Ph.D. in English, freshman comp and other university courses;
current job:  Writing Lab Director at a small community college in Maryland;
Lots of travel all around the world.

On June 26, Margaret Clark wrote:

>Another characteristic that all these students share is that they are
>first generation college students. Also, to put it bluntly, none of them
>are any good at all at writing academic English, in terms of both
>appropriate content and usage.

This, I feel, is the real issue in defining ESL students.  Especially in
freshman composition classes to monolingual/monodialectic English speakers,
I emphasize the generic nature of SWE (or SEAE, or whatever).  I have found
the monodialectic part the hardest to tackle, because these students need
first to learn about levels of language.  Stylistically, monodialectic
students write like they talk, not having any useful conception of
"formality" in language.  True "second language" students (at least
bilingual and, thus, at least bidialectic) students, on the other hand,
already understand distinctions in levels of language--a fact evidenced by
their peculiar fascination with dirty words/impolite speech.  I think you
are right in wanting to extract "-dialectic" from "-lingual."  Exactly how
one would do that, though, I won't hazard.

Margaret Clark also mused on and bemoaned the variety of students classified
as "ESL"--a serious problem that I think usually arises from monodialectal
admissions officers and evaluators who themselves create the complexity.
Apologies, but I've met MANY such evaluators.  Over the years, I have found
a useful way to distinguish what I consider ESL from what I consider not
ESL:  the student knows the vocabulary of grammar, but not necessarily
anything else.

A brief (and pseudo-hypothetical) anecdote many will find familiar will help
clarify the distinction I'm talking about here.

A "native speaker" comes in to the Lab for help with English verb tenses.
Even though s/he uses these tenses correctly all the time in speech, knows
what they indicate (i.e. an action that started in the past and continues, a
habit, etc.), the student has tremendous difficulty naming the tense of an
indicated verb and forming a verb from an indicated tense.  This student
knows the meaning, not the form.

A "second language speaker" comes to the Lab for help with English verb
tenses.  Even though s/he can almost immediately distinguish a present
perfect verb from a past progressive and so on, and can quickly generate a
verb from an indicated tense, s/he uses the verb form incorrectly in speech
and writing.  This student knows the form, but not the meaning.

A second "native speaker" comes in to the Lab for help with English verb
tenses.  Even though s/he has been raised in the US, or has been living here
for years and years, or has spoken (some dialect of) English for many years,
s/he knows neither the form nor the meaning of SWE with any competence.

Only one of these students is, in my book, ESL.  The other two should not be
treated as ESL students--that is, ESL texts do not benefit them.  Especially
the third student (find your own examples--there are many) needs, in my
estimation, individual tutoring and exposure to speakers and writers of SWE.
To place such students in a class of ESL students is a crime (or should be);
one learns by _exposure_ and practice, not by being told what's "right" or