A bilingual approach to the examination of writing products and processes in adults who are learning to write in their second language
Dietrich, Sarah Elizabeth
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Through the examination of nine participants (Spanish and Portuguese speakers) writing in Ll language and in English, I explored the following question: What do adult writers do when writing in Ll and L2? This study examined product-related features (text length, text structure, and text quality), process-related features (planning, drafting, revising, editing) in Ll and L2, as well as participants' beliefs about L2 writing, training, and the texts they produced. The study differed from earlier research in its use of multiple data sources (writing samples, think-alouds, observations, interviews) and its bilingual approach to data gathering. Analysis of the data gathered in this study led to several major findings. Text length in L2 varied with levels of L2 proficiency. Familiarity with task and writing context led participants with high levels of L2 proficiency to write more in English than they did in Ll. However, neither L2 proficiency nor Ll text quality were found to be predictors of L2 text quality. Overall, participants planned very little, and drafting processes were found to vary across participants. Participants were less able to correct their errors and modified their texts more frequently in L2; in L2 they were more likely to engage in editing than in revising. Despite participants' efforts to modify their texts, final versions of both Ll and L2 essays contained errors of spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Finally, study participants reported feeling limited by their knowledge of L2 grammar and vocabulary, saying they felt unable to express their ideas fully in their second language.
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