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Title:The second language writing of Chinese ESL students: Transfer and writing development
Author(s):Becker, Ruth R.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Garcia, Georgia E.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Language and Literature
Abstract:This qualitative study examined the influence of first language (L1) writing on second language writing (L2) and the L2 writing development of five Chinese ESL students during a one-semester ESL freshman composition course. The study investigated Kaplan's (1966) claims that the transfer of L1 writing interferes with L2 writing, and Chinese students' L2 writing is characterized by a "spiral" of indirect statements. The data included the students' L1 (Chinese) comparison-contrast essay, the initial and final L2 (English) comparison-contrast essays, five L2 essays written during the semester, as well as interviews and writing conferences. Chinese rhetorical patterns emerged in the content, reasoning, and structure, including references to Confucian philosophy, the use of examples, and characteristic L1 conclusions and paragraph focus. Patterns of L2 writing during the semester revealed a shift to L2 academic writing with the incorporation of analytical thesis statements, partial L2 essay structure, development of composing skills of invention and revising, increased L2 fluency, and more complex, although frequently less standard L2 syntax, as well as developmental writing patterns. A pattern of rhetoric-switching, suggesting bi-rhetorical schemata, occurred in two students' L1 and initial L2 essays.
The findings suggest that Chinese students' L2 writing is characterized by a complex cluster of rhetorical patterns, thus refining Kaplan's description of an Oriental "spiral." L2 writing proficiency appears to be influenced by the transfer of L1 composing skills and rhetorical knowledge, L2 linguistic proficiency, and L2 writing instruction. Chinese adult students who exhibit skilled L1 writing do not necessarily exhibit skilled L2 writing. L2 writing skills do not change in a consistent manner but rather in a series of fluctuations. L1 transfer appears to interfere with the acquisition of selected L2 discourse patterns.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Becker, Ruth R.
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9543530
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9543530

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