L1 and L2 writing strategies: a study of Chinese graduate student writers using concurrent think-aloud




Guo, Xiaoqian

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In the field of L2 (second language) writing, a great number of studies have been done to explore learners’ writing processes and writing strategies since the last three decades. However, the relationship between learners’ strategy use and writing performance is still not clear-cut, and researchers still debate about whether L1 (first language) writing processes and strategies are similar to or different from L2 writing processes and strategies. To explore these controversial issues, this study has examined the L1 and L2 academic writing processes of 35 Chinese ESL (English-as-a-second-language) learners by using concurrent think-aloud protocols and retrospective interviews. In line with previous strategy studies, the findings of present study also revealed that learners selected, used, and evaluated a wide range of writing strategies (i.e., approach, rhetorical, communication, cognitive, metacognitive, affective, and social strategies) in both L1 and L2 tasks. Moreover, the results of qualitative and quantitative analyses indicated that the overall pattern of strategy use by learners was similar between L1 and L2. Specifically, learners tended to transfer their approach, rhetorical, communication, and cognitive strategies across languages. As for the correlations between writing strategies and writing scores, statistical tests did not detect any significant relationships between learners’ strategy use and their writing performance in either the L1 writing task or the L2 writing task. One main implication suggested by the present study is that learners should not only be encouraged to reflect on their L2 writing performance and strategy use, but also be provided with the opportunities to reconsider and reflect on how they usually approach and process L1 writing tasks.



Chinese ESL graduate students, L1 and L2 writing strategies, L1 and L2 writing performance