Journal of Second Language Writing


Volume 11 (2002)
[ No. 1 | No. 2 | No. 3 | No. 4 ]

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) |
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| Vol. 9 (2000) | Vol. 10 (2001) | Vol. 11 (2002) | Vol. 12 (2003) |
| Vol. 13 (2004) | Vol. 14 (2005) |

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Volume 11, Number 1 (2002)

Language-Switching: Using the First Language While Writing in a Second Language (pp. 7-28)

University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico

In a protocol analysis of L2 writing from 28 adult participants (9 L2 Japanese, 11 L2 English, and 8 L2 Spanish), this research observed how language-switching (L-S), i.e., L1 use in L2 writing, was affected by L2 proficiency, task difficulty, and language group (i.e., the L1/L2 relationship). ANOVA results suggest that less proficient L2 learners switched to their L1s more frequently than more advanced learners (P = 0.004), and that more difficult tasks increased the duration of L1 use in L2 writing (P ≤ 0.001). For students of a cognate language, longer periods of L1 use were related to higher quality L2 texts; for students of a non-cognate language, L-S was related to lower quality texts. Possible reasons for L-S are discussed with examples from the protocols, and suggestions for including L-S in L2 writing models are made.

Responding to Sentence-Level Errors in Writing (pp. 29-47)

Central Missouri State University, USA
Eastern Kentucky University, USA

The debate between Truscott (1996, 1999) and Ferris (1999) on responding to student errors in writing underscores how difficult this issue is for writing teachers. Conventionally, pedagogies have looked at errors separately from principles of text construction. From an interlanguage perspective, we argue that many perplexing errors are the result of the interaction between developing linguistic competence and basic principles of ordering information in texts which learners already know. We show how this interaction results in errors at the sentence-level. These insights are applied to published comments and corrections of sentence-level errors in student writing. Based on the interlanguage perspective we propose, our analysis of these comments and corrections show how teachers may misinterpret a learner's text. The framework we propose situates students' sentence-level errors within their developing skill in constructing target-like texts and provides teachers with another perspective on such errors.

Using Portfolios to Assess the Writing of ESL Students: A Powerful Alternative? (pp. 49-72)

Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York, USA

This article describes a quantitative study that compared the performance of two groups of advanced ESL students in ENG 22, a second semester composition course. Both groups had been enrolled in ENG C2, a compensatory version of Freshman English for students with scores one level below passing on the CUNY Writing Assessment Test (WAT). At the end of ENG C2, one group was assessed on the basis of portfolios, as well as the CUNY WAT; the other was assessed using the WAT. Comparable percentages of students in both groups passed the WAT at the end of C2. However, students from the portfolio group with passing portfolios were permitted to advance to ENG 22 regardless of their performance on the WAT, while students in the non-portfolio group moved ahead only if they had passed the WAT. (The WAT remained a graduation requirement for all students.) The study found that students were twice as likely to pass into ENG 22 from ENG C2 when they were evaluated by portfolio than when they were required to pass the WAT. Nevertheless, at the end of ENG 22, the pass rate and grade distribution for the two groups were nearly identical. Because portfolio assessment was able to identify more than twice the number of ESL students who proved successful in the next English course, however, it seems a more appropriate assessment alternative for the ESL population.

Volume 11, Number 2 (2002)

High School Student Perceptions of First Language Literacy Instruction: Implications for Second Language Writing (pp. 91-116)

University, Japan

The overall goal of this study is to clarify the nature of Japanese students' first language (L1) writing experience and instruction in high school to help university second language (L2) English writing teachers understand their students' needs. Building on the results of a previous large-scale questionnaire study of Japanese (N=389) and American students (N=66), this interview study attempts to gain insight into Japanese L1 literacy instruction in high school through individual students' experiences. The questionnaire study had indicated that Japanese high school language classes provide significantly more instruction in reading than writing and significantly less emphasis on writing than American classes. However, analysis of the data from in-depth interviews (N=21) presented here reveals a more complex picture. Most notably, many Japanese high schools provide intensive writing instruction and practice, outside of regular Japanese classes, to help increasing numbers of individual students prepare for essay writing on university entrance exams. The results of the study call into question the common assumption that Japanese high school students receive little training related to L1 writing. The findings suggest specific ways for teachers to draw on students' strengths in terms of their literacy background to help them bridge the gap between their L1 and L2 writing skills.

Student/Teacher Interaction via Email: The Social Context of Internet Discourse (pp. 117-134)

The Ohio State University, USA

While email has been used in L2 composition classrooms as a way to develop fluency, it can also be used as a means of creating and sustaining relationships, as it is often used outside the classroom. This paper examines the way students in a graduate-level ESL course used email on their own initiative to interact with their instructor. The paper examines 120 email messages received by the instructor during the course and categorizes them into four areas: (1) phatic communion, (2) asking for help, (3) making excuses, and (4) making formal requests. From these categories, representative samples were chosen to illustrate what rhetorical strategies the writers used to achieve their purpose for sending the email messages. The results show that the students were able to employ a wide variety of rhetorical strategies to interact with their instructor outside of the traditional classroom setting. For these students, email seemed to be an important means for interacting with their instructor. Moreover, the students exhibited a good ability to switch between formal and informal language, depending upon the rhetorical context of the message. In the conclusion, some of the issues regarding teaching the use of email are discussed.

Teaching Coherence to ESL Students: A Classroom Inquiry (pp. 135-159)

Hong Kong Baptist University, China

"Coherence" is traditionally described as the relationships that link the ideas in a text to create meaning for the readers. It is often regarded as a fuzzy concept which is difficult to teach and learn. This paper describes a classroom inquiry which investigated the teaching of coherence. In this study, coherence was defined in terms of a number of coherence-creating devices, and pedagogical materials were designed accordingly to teach the concept to a group of 16 ESL university students in Hong Kong. Data was collected from their pre- and post-revision drafts, think-aloud protocols during revisions, as well as post-study questionnaires and interviews. The findings suggest that at the end of the explicit teaching of coherence, students improved the coherence of their writing and directed their attention to the discourse level of texts while revising. They also felt that the teaching of coherence had enhanced their awareness of what effective writing should entail. The paper concludes with insights gained from the classroom inquiry.

Volume 11, Number 3 (2002)

Critiquing Voice as a Viable Pedagogical Tool in L2 Writing: Returning the Spotlight to Ideas (pp. 177-190)

Hokkaido University, Japan

The issue of voice, authorial identity, or authorial presence in L2 writing has recently received considerable attention from second language researchers. Much of this research has concluded that voice is an integral part of writing and that it should, therefore, become an essential component of second language writing pedagogy. With a particular focus on many of the discursive elements of voice, authorial identity, and authorial presence isolated by this research, this paper critically assesses the body of research and claims that the case for voice in second language pedagogy has been overstated. Furthermore, it is argued that extended discussions about voice may be misleading teachers and students into believing that expressions of identity take precedence over ideas and argumentation. It is concluded that research on L2 academic writing would be better directed towards argumentation skills and ideas than voice.

A Modern History of Written Discourse Analysis (pp. 191-223)

University of Southern California (Emeritus), USA
Northern Arizona University, USA

The term discourse analysis has been used interchangeably in two separate contexts -- spoken discourse (i.e., multiple-source dialogic) and written discourse (i.e., single-source monologic). Such a distinction, however, oversimplifies the situation; while there are obvious overlaps between the two, to some extent each has evolved in its own direction. Written discourse analysis, the subject of our discussion, is obviously closely connected with work in literacy, but it implicates a great heterogeneity of topics and approaches, including at least some from psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics. Discourse analysis, in the sense in which we are using it, emerged in the early 1970s. A modern history of written discourse analysis is perhaps best covered within a 40-50-year time span. In the course of that time, a number of new and emerging disciplines and research fields have contributed to systematic analyses of the linguistic features and patterns occurring in written texts. At the same time, other continuing disciplines have provided contributions that have been important and are ongoing. It should be fairly evident that any attempt to cover such a broad spectrum of views and disciplines would not be appropriate in a single article. We therefore intend to limit the scope of this paper to analyses of written discourse that explore the actual structuring of the text via some consistent framework. Our goal is to highlight and describe historically the various efforts to find the structures and linguistic patterns in texts that contribute to how they are understood, interpreted, and used. It seems to us that, in order to comprehend what has happened in the context of L2 writing research, it is necessary to understand the extensive work that has been done in discourse analysis.

L1 Use in the L2 Composing Process: An Exploratory Study of 16 Chinese EFL Writers (pp. 225-246)

Nanjing University, China

This paper reports a study on how ESL/EFL writers use their L1 (first language) when composing in their L2 (second language) and how such L1 use is affected by L2 proficiency and writing tasks. Sixteen Chinese EFL learners were asked to compose aloud on two tasks, narration and argumentation. Analyses of their think-aloud protocols revealed that these student writers had both their L1 and L2 at their disposal when composing in their L2. They were more likely to rely on L1 when they were managing their writing processes, generating and organizing ideas, but more likely to rely on L2 when undertaking task-examining and text-generating activities. Additionally, more L1 use was found in the narrative writing task than in the argumentative writing. Finally, the think-aloud protocols reflected that L1 use decreased with the writer's L2 development, but the extent of the decline of L1 use in individual activities varied. Based on these findings, an L2 composing process model is proposed

Volume 11, Number 4 (2002)

Special Issue: Early Second Language Writing
Guest Editors: Paul Kei Matsuda and Kevin Eric De Pew

Early Second Language Writing: An Introduction (pp. 261-268)

University of New Hampshire, USA
Purdue University, USA

In this introduction to the special issue on early second language writing, special issue editors discuss the need to pay more attention to the issue of early second language writing--defined as the development of L2 literacy from the writer's first encounter with a second language through the completion of secondary education. After a brief review of studies in early L2 writing, possible reasons for the dearth of studies addressing this important area is discussed, followed by an overview of perspectives represented in this special issue.

Emergent Biliteracy in Chinese and English (pp. 269-293)

Indiana University, USA

Will teaching children to read and write in two languages in the school environment lead to confusion and possible interference in the literacy learning process? By focusing on the emergent Chinese and English literacy of a 5-year-old boy from Taiwan, this research provides insights into the debate within the field of bilingual education as to whether the introduction of literacy in languages with two different writing systems helps or hinders literacy development in both languages. The researchers involved the participant in a variety of interactive reading and writing activities and games, both in English and Chinese, for 1.5-2 hours a week over the course of 15 weeks. Drawing on Cummins's (1991) Common Underlying Proficiency Hypothesis, data was coded, analyzed and organized into two categories: the Foundational Level Emergent Literacy Awareness and the Surface Level Emergent Literacy Awareness. Results suggest that Foundational Level Awareness, literacy awareness that applies to either language, is characterized by the intentionality of print, the match between written and spoken words, and the conventions of print. The Surface Level Awareness, literacy awareness unique to each writing system, is differentiated into two distinct categories that pertain to the specifics of the writing systems of English and Chinese. Discussions center on the relationship between Chinese literacy and English literacy, the impact on biliteracy over time, and the participant's future literacy development. Implications for biliteracy research, development, knowledge, and pedagogy are suggested.

Seeing the Invisible: Situating L2 Literacy in Child-Teacher Interaction (pp. 295-310)

University of New Orleans, USA

The author revisits her earlier qualitative research on ESL children's emergence into literacy, which she conducted with 5- and 6-year olds at a multilingual K-12 school in Casablanca, Morocco. Through further reflection and study, she arrives at the notion of "synchronicity"--a dynamic oneness between teacher and child--as the distinguishing feature of three classrooms where children's literacy development was taking place at an extraordinary pace. This work presents readers with new insights into the affective complexities of child-teacher interaction and its role in literacy development.

Learning to Make Things Happen in Different Ways: Causality in the Writing of Middle-Grade English Language Learners (pp. 311-328)

University of Houston, USA

This study addresses two issues: the similarity between L1 and L2 writing development and the nature of the developmental path. The frequency of two types of causality markers in 5th-8th grade essays written by 189 students in ESL and 546 students in regular language arts classes is analyzed. Students wrote on one of two informative "how-to" prompts. The regular language arts students were found to differ in their usage of causality markers between the two topics, whereas the ESL students used the markers similarly across both topics. There were no differences between students at different grade levels in either group. In addition, the ESL students were found to have higher usage of causality markers in general than the regular language arts students. It is suggested that the developmental path for both groups involves moving away from primarily narrative expansion of topic towards display of diverse language forms and discourse strategies.

The Role of Writing in Classroom Second Language Acquisition (pp. 329-350)

University of Georgia, USA

This paper argues that writing should play a more prominent role in classroom-based studies of second language acquisition. It contends that an implicit emphasis on spoken language is the result of the historical development of the field of applied linguistics and parent disciplines of structuralist linguistics, linguistic anthropology, and child language development. Although writing as a communicative modality has been marginalized, it is key to understanding second language acquisition in contexts such as elementary and secondary level content area classrooms where literacy plays a central role in communication and transmission of subject matter. In all, the paper argues that while it is important for classroom-based studies to investigate how students learn how to write in a second language, it is equally important to learn how students learn a second language through writing. Implications of this perspective are noted for notions of learner and target language variation, multimodality and language socialization, and interactionist approaches to classroom research.



Symposium on Second Language Writing