Academic journal article International Education Studies

Second Language Learners' Performance and Strategies When Writing Direct and Translated Essays

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Second Language Learners' Performance and Strategies When Writing Direct and Translated Essays

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate ESL students' performance and strategies when writing direct and translated essays. The study also aimed at exploring students' strategies when writing in L2 (English) and L1 (Arabic). The study used a mixture of quantitative and qualitative procedures for data collection and analysis. Adapted strategy questionnaires, writing essay prompts and follow-up questions were utilized for data gathering. Thirty six university students participated in writing three different essays (direct L2 essay, L1essay, and translated essay). Furthermore, the participants responded to strategy questionnaires and answered follow-up questions. The results revealed statistically significant differences between direct and translated writing in favor of the first one. No significant differences between direct and translated writing in the use of strategies were found. The study's findings may have pedagogical implications for the fields of writing instruction, writing assessment and teacher training. Based on the results, the study ended with some recommendations to assist and direct future research.

Keywords: writing, direct, essay, translated, strategy, composition

1. Introduction

Motivated by the limitation of previous studies in the area of direct vs. translated writing within Arab ESL learners' contexts, this research paper aims at investigating students' performance and strategies when writing directly in English and when first composing in L1 and then translating into English. Learning to write effectively in a second language has represented a real difficulty for many students of English as a second language (ESL) for decades. Writing in L2 is considered not only a challenging practice but also a complex process (Wolfersberger, 2003). ESL writers find writing more challenging than other language skills as composing in the second language demands a number of cognitive and linguistic processes and strategies. A number of studies have examined the influence of writing first in the L1 and then translating into another language (Kobayashi and Rinnert, 2008, 1992; Cohen and Brooks-Carson, 2001; Uzawa, 1996). These studies have reported that students with limited language proficiency might benefit from writing first in their L1 and then translate their work into a second language. The influence of L1 in L2 writing is immanent especially for older ESL learners. L1 always impacts L2 writing as adult ESL students have already developed their writing skills and experience in their first language. Arab students, for instance, tend to transfer the culture of their L1 writing conventions into their L2 writing. Although the writing conventions and style of Arabic language are different in some ways from the English ones, students are always tempted to use them in L2 writing. Their writing is found to be longer, indirect and it includes some repetition (Abu Rass, 2011; Al-Khatib, 2001; Khuwaileh and Shoumali, 2000). In brief, L1 plays a significant role in the acquisition and learning of ESL writing and therefore a careful attention should be paid to first language when planning and/or designing a writing program.

2. Research Questions

1) Are there any significant differences between students' language use in writing directly in English and translated writing from the first language?

2) Are there any significant differences between students' use of writing strategies in L2 and L1?

3) What do students consider to be the relevant advantages and disadvantages of the direct and translated writing modes?

4) What are the most common strategies students reported to use more frequently during the process of writing the translated essay?

3. Literature Review

Extending the line of previous research in the field of second language writing, this study examined students' writing achievements and strategies when writing directly in English and when writing first in L1 and then translating into English. …

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