Journal of Second Language Writing


Volume 2 (1993)
[ No. 1 | No. 2 | No. 3 ]

Editorial Board
Table of Contents
Information for Authors
The JSLW Award
About the Editors
About the Publisher
| Comprehensive Abstracts |
| Vol. 1 (1992) | Vol. 2 (1993) | Vol. 3 (1994) | Vol. 4 (1995) |
| Vol. 5 (1996) | Vol. 6 (1997) | Vol. 7 (1998) | Vol. 8 (1999) |
| Vol. 9 (2000) | Vol. 10 (2001) | Vol. 11 (2002) | Vol. 12 (2003) |
| Vol. 13 (2004) | Vol. 14 (2005) |

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Volume 2, Number 1 (1993)

ESL Essay Evaluation: The Influence of Sentence-level and Rhetorical Features

San Diego State University

This study compares the relative influences of rhetorical and sentence-level features on the holistic scores assigned by graders who are experienced English writing instructors but who are not trained in ESL. Six intermediate ESL essays were selected from a university developmental writing class in which NS and ESL students were mixed. These essays were transcribed with the ESL sentence-level errors corrected. Both the original and corrected essays were holistically scored by graders who had no ESL training. Graders also assigned analytic scores on two sentence-level and two rhetorical features of the essays. T-test analyses indicated a significant difference between the holistic scores of original and corrected essays. Correlation coefficients revealed that the analytic scores on the sentence-level features of sentence structure and grammar/mechanics correlated with holistic score. Analytic scores on the rhetorical features of organization and paragraph development showed no correlation with holistic scores in either the original or corrected essays. In this study, graders who were experienced writing instructors, but not trained in ESL, placed far more scoring emphasis on the ESL sentence-level errors in these essays than on the essays' strong rhetorical features.

Three Disk-Based Text Analyzers and the ESL Writer

City Polytechnic of Hong Kong

Among the variety of computer-based writing aids now available to ESL composition teachers, computerized text analysis is one of the most popular and controversial. As its name implies, computer text analysis utilizes computer technology to analyze text and offer suggestions for improvement. This article examines three popular disk-based text analyzers and considers their effectiveness in analyzing texts written by ESL student writers. Results of this examination raise doubts about the effectiveness of computer text analysis as a stand-alone revision aid for ESL writers. The programs examined sometimes offered incorrect advice and potentially could focus the user's attention on relatively trivial surface-level matters rather than more substantial meaning-level problems in need of revision. Teachers who use text analysis with ESL writers should be prepared to offer careful guidance in interpreting and using computer feedback productively.

Comparing Writing Process and Product Across Two Languages: A Study of 6 Singaporean University Student Writers

City Polytechnic of Hong Kong
Ontario Institute of Studies in Education

A number of studies have attempted to probe the writing process of skilled and unskilled native and nonnative speakers of English. However, very few investigations of the writing process of students learning other languages have been published to date. This article reports a study of 6 Singaporean university students as they produced written texts in Japanese and, for comparison, in their primary written language (English or Chinese). The study examines process and product data separately to see if any relationship exists between an individual writer's process skill and product quality in the two languages. The findings indicate no clear relationship between process and product data in either language, nor between written products in the two languages. At the same time, the investigation uncovers a similarity in writing process for individual subjects across the two languages and a relationship between general level of proficiency in Japanese and the quality of the subjects' written products in that language.

Examining L2 Composition Ideology: A Look at Literacy Education

San Francisco State University

This article seeks to clarify the ideological assumptions that presently inform L2 composition research and pedagogy and to suggest several alternate assumptions. In clarifying L2 composition ideology, it is advantageous to consider literacy education. Specifically, the article discusses three widely accepted assumptions in literacy education, namely, that literacy is a social practice, that there exists a plurality of literacies, and that literacy educators must address issues of power. The implications of these assumptions for defining L2 composition ideology are then explored.

Volume 2, Number 2 (1993)

Entering a Disciplinary Community: Conceptual Activities Required to Write for One Introductory University Course

Carleton University

Although previous research in both first and second language composition has called for the examination of the various intellectual or conceptual activities required for university content courses, this coil has gone largely unanswered. This article presents the results of a study of one introductory university course in Organizational Behaviour, a subcommunity or "forum" within the academic community of business studies. It analyzes the conceptual activities the students were required to carry out in order to write their weekly assignments and shows how these activities determined the nature of the expected discourse. The article argues that learning how to carry out such activities can be profitably transferred from the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) classroom to university content classes. It suggests that nonnative-speaking (NNS) students can use these activities to explore their own disciplinary communities and thus facilitate their initiation into those communities. The results of this study also offer important implications for first and second language writing pedagogy as well as for course design and teaching assistant (TA) preparation in academic content classes.

The Design of an Automatic Analysis Program for L2 Text Research: Necessity and Feasibility

California State University, Sacramento

Several first and second language (L1 and L2) text researchers have recently utilized automatic analysis programs and computerized corpora to facilitate large-scale multivariate analyses of written discourse (e.g., Biber, 1988; Connor, 1990; Connor & Biber, 1989; Grabe, 1987; Grabe & Biber, 1987; Reid, 1990). Although it is clear that automated analyses make important quantitative research much more feasible, there is a potential problem with applying computer programs to L2 texts: Many lexical and syntactic features of L2 writing are in varying developmental stages, and programs created to analyze L1 texts in "target" form may underestimate and/or mislabel structures in L2 writing. This article explores the necessity for and feasibility of the design of a computer program specifically for the analysis of L2 texts. Using data from a large L2 text analysis (160 texts; 62 variables) in which automatic analysis was not used, it is demonstrated that a program designed for L1 texts would not be accurate enough to capture completely the structures used by L2 writers. Following this analysis, suggestions are made as to how an L2 text analysis program could be created and applied.

Perspectives on Plagiarism From ESL Students in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Baptist College

This inquiry aimed to discover how well students pursuing higher education in Hong Kong can recognize plagiaristic writing, in what terms they perceive it as inappropriate, and how they view students who plagiarize. The study included 170 first-year and 41 third-year Chinese students all majoring in fields of science in one of Hong Kong's tertiary-level institutions. A questionnaire was administered to the first-year students prior to any classroom mention of plagiarism. The results indicated these students had little familiarity with the Western notion of plagiarism and poor ability to recognize it. As for the inappropriateness of plagiarism, their chief concern was its detrimental effect on learning. They expressed less concern for the rights of the original writer or for the effect of plagiarism upon one's classmates, academic institution, or instructors. The questionnaire also determined that these students view persons who plagiarize as weak and lazy. On the other hand, third-year students were more able to recognize plagiarism and showed greater concern for the original writer and the issue of honesty. It is concluded that these first-year students need explicit orientation and training on how to avoid plagiarism when writing in a Western academic community.

The Writing of Southeast Asian-American Students in Secondary School and University

University of Minnesota
St. Paul Public Schools

This article reports on a study of the English writing skills of Southeast Asian-American immigrant children in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and in 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade mainstream classes in a public secondary school in St. Paul, MN. Their writing is compared at each level and is also compared to the English writing of Southeast Asian-American immigrant students, international students, and native-speaking undergraduates at the University of Minnesota. All subjects wrote on the same topic, and scores on four writing traits (accuracy, fluency, coherence, and organization) were assigned to each essay. Results show that writing scores for the mainstreamed secondary students were the same at the 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade levels and were the same as the scores of the nonnative university students. Only the native-speaking university students obtained scores which were significantly better. For the public school subjects, a lower age on arrival, a lower grade at entry into the school system, and a higher number of years in the U.S. were all significantly correlated (p = .001) with success in the writing traits measured. Regression analysis indicated that age on arrival was a more important factor than number of years in the U.S. and grade at entry.

Volume 2, Number 3 (1993)

The Sociopolitical Implications of Response to Second Language and Second Dialect Writing

University of Iowa

In response to Terry Santos' (1992) "Ideology in Composition: L1 and ESL:" I argue that second language/English as a Second Language (L2/ESL) pedagogy is as politically charged as first language (L1) pedagogy, but its ideological implications need to be openly articulated and discussed-the purpose of this article. As classrooms become more multicultural and ESL students become more difficult to distinguish from non-ESL students, L1 and L2 pedagogies will begin to converge, possibly causing L2/ESL pedagogy to become more expressly political, but also causing L1 pedagogy to become more pragmatic. To demonstrate the political implications of L2/ESL pedagogy and to make connections with L1 pedagogy, I offer a continuum of responses to second language and second dialect writing, based on teachers' political stances on linguistic and cultural assimilation. The three response stances, related to those from ethnic studies, sociolinguistics, and L1 composition, are the separatist, accommodationist, and assimilationist. This response continuum is then used to analyze actual and hypothetical responses to the writing of {a) an ESL international student, (b) an ESL bicultural student, and (c) a Standard English as a Second Dialect (SESD) student.

The Implications of Cognitive Models in L1 and L2 Writing

Skidmore College 
State University of New York, College at Buffalo 
Skidmore College

Research has suggested that metacognition is composed. of three general dimensions: knowledge of cognition, regulation of cognition, and the use of compensatory strategies when cognition fails. The first dimension, knowledge of cognition, can be further divided into three types: personal, task, and strategy variables. Knowledge of these variables is highly interactive in successful task performance, and taken together they constitute an individual's cognitive model of a cognitive task. Although research has investigated the role of metacognition, particularly the impact of cognitive models, in first language (L1) and second language (L2) reading performance, to date there has been little research in writing-L1 or L2-about the role of metacognition If generally or the impact of cognitive models on task performance more specifically. The current study reports on the role of cognitive models in L1 and L2 writing. Twenty first-year college students-10 L1 basic writers and 10 L2 writers from various language backgrounds-were surveyed to elicit information concerning their notions about personal, task, and strategy variables in writing. Based on their responses, writers were determined to possess various cognitive models of writing. Subjects' writing samples were evaluated holistically; further evaluation determined compositional and grammatical proficiency. Analysis reveals that L1 basic and L2 writers hold different cognitive models and perform differently on writing tasks, suggesting that cognitive models have important implications for writing task performance.

A Critical Examination of Word Processing Effects in Relation to L2 Writers

City Polytechnic of Hong Kong

This article offers an assessment of the effects of word processing with reference to writers for whom English is a second language. A review of the findings reported in the published literature on the application of word processing in English first language (L1) and second language (L2) composition leads to an attempt to find explanations for the conflicting results of different studies. Method and context effects are identified which help to account for the differential findings. These effects are attributable to variation across studies in one or more of the following variables: (a) the nature of the students, (b) the abilities and attitudes of the teachers, (c) the setting for computer use, (d) the time span of the implementation, (e) the type and amount of instruction offered in writing and in word processing, (f) the nature of particular word processing software and hardware, and (g) the measures used for assessing the effects and effectiveness of the implementation. It is concluded that word processing can be of value for nonnative writers if it is employed under certain conditions, and recommendations are offered for research with such populations.

Computers, Revision, and ESL Writers: The Role of Experience

University of Texas at El Paso

Four advanced English as a Second Language (ESL) writers enrolled in a second-semester university composition class were observed while they used a computer to write and revise a paper on an assigned topic. The writers were selected for English proficiency (high vs. low) and computer writing experience (one semester vs. two or more semesters). Each student was videotaped for two sessions of writing and revising the paper. The tapes were transcribed and scored using an adaptation of the categories described by Faigley and Witte (1984). The results indicated that experience with the computer was a stronger factor than writing proficiency in determining computer writing strategies. The two inexperienced computer users spent less time revising, made more surface changes, and used the computer functions less than the experienced computer users. In post taping interviews, the experienced users also showed a greater concern for content than did the inexperienced users, who indicated apprehension about using the computer and concern for correctness.


On Second Language Writing