A comparative study of the composing of selected ESL and native English speaking freshmen writers
School: Purdue University (0183)
Date: 1990 pp: 161
Advisor: Raskin, Victor; Lauer, Janice M.
Source: DAI-A 51/10, p. 3397, Apr 1991
Subjects: Language, General (0679); Language, Linguistics (0290); Education, Language And Literature (0279)
ProQuest Document Number: 303863041
UMI Number: not available from UMI
The increasing heterogeneity of student populations in American colleges and universities poses a number of interesting and challenging questions for freshman composition teachers. One of these questions is how best to serve their students who are speakers of English as a second language (ESL). Any answer to this question would seem to require a clear understanding of how the composing of ESL and native English speaking (NES) freshman writers differ. This study’s aim is to move toward such an understanding by identifying variables useful in distinguishing the composing of first and second language writers. Specifically, it asks three questions with regard to the subjects participating in this study: (1) Are there salient differences between the composing of the ESL and NES freshman writers? (2) Are their salient differences between the composing of the ESL freshman writers from different language backgrounds? and (3) If such differences do exist, what is their nature?
The research design used here can be classified as qualitative descriptive. Specifically, it is comprised of case studies of six first-semester freshmen–one female and one male from each of three linguistic groups: native speakers of Chinese, Spanish, and English. The data examined were of three types. Personal data came from structured pre-writing interviews which addressed the subjects’ demographic characteristics and their family, education, work English, and writing experience. Process data came from think aloud protocols and retrospective accounts by the subjects of their composing processes–with regard to writer, text, reader, and context based concerns. The product data came from analyses–at the level of text, paragraph, sentence, t-unit, clause, word, and print code convention–of the subjects’ composition.
The findings indicate that there are, indeed, salient differences in composing between the NES and ESL writers and between the two groups of ESL writers examined here. These differences relate to personal (experience in English, writing experience, and L2 proficiency), process (planning, transcribing, and reviewing), and product (quality, complexity, fluency, and accuracy) variables. These findings are further discussed in terms of their significance and implications for first and second language writing research, theory, and practice.