ArticlePDF Available

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

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

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.
Content may be subject to copyright.
International Education Studies; Vol. 5, No. 5; 2012
ISSN 1913-9020 E-ISSN 1913-9039
Published by Canadian Center of Science and Education
173
Second Language Learners’ Performance and Strategies When
Writing Direct and Translated Essays
Sadiq Abdulwahed Ahmed Ismail1 & Negmeldin Omer Alsheikh1
1 Faculty of Education, United Arab Emirates University, P. O. Box 17551, Alain, United Arab Emirates
Correspondence: Sadiq Abdulwahed Ahmed Ismail, Faculty of Education, United Arab Emirates University, P.
O. Box 17551, Alain, United Arab Emirates. Tel: 971-504-497-088. E-mail: ism232@gmail.com
Received: June 2, 2012 Accepted: June 18, 2012 Online Published: August 23, 2012
doi:10.5539/ies.v5n5p173 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/ies.v5n5p173
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?
www.ccsenet.org/ies International Education Studies Vol. 5, No. 5; 2012
174
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. 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. Zainuddin and
Moore (2003) pointed out that the notion of culturally constructed rhetorical traditions and patterns is one of the
key challenges that has been indicated by contrastive rhetoric studies. Baker (2008) argued that sociocultural and
critical theories are fundamental for ESL instructors to understand how multilingual and multicultural students
approach various writing tasks. It is believed that L2 writers may have different culturally-driven assumptions
about academic writing in the L1 that may not be transferred directly to L2 writing (Connor, 2002; Dyc, 2002;
Leki, 2000; Ramanathan and Kaplan, 1996). Consequently, writing should receive more attention in ESL classes
in order to prepare the learners to cope with the communicative demands of real life situations. Undoubtedly, the
purpose of teaching writing skill is to prepare ESL learners to become better writers. Exposing them to the
writing process itself has been viewed as a better way for achieving this goal (Ismail, 2011). However, the
influence of L1 cannot be completely ignored when teaching students to write in L2.
Research dealing with both L1 and L2 writing has reported different findings. A number of research results
revealed some similarities between L1 and L2 writing and the importance for employing these similarities to
enhance L2 writing skill (Alsamadani, 2010; Xiao-xia, 2008; Kamimura, 2001). Nevertheless, other research
findings reported some differences between writing in L1 and L2 (Kohro, 2009; Zare-ee and Farvardin, 2009;
McCarthey, et al., 2005; Martinez, 2005). Within the context of Arabic language writing, Alsamadani (2010)
examined whether a relationship exists between Saudi students’ English writing competence, their Arabic
writing proficiency and their self-regulation skills when conducting a writing task. He reported that Saudi ESL
students tend to use the same self-regulation when they write in both L1 (Arabic) and L2 (English). Additionally,
it was found that those students who obtained high scores in both language writing tasks managed to demonstrate
high achievements in their self-regulation skills. In their study about linguistics and rhetorical patterns, Zare-ee
and Farvardin (2009) tried to examine whether there was significant differences between students’ writing
performance in L1 (Persian) and L2 (English). A summary of their findings indicated that there were significant
differences in length, structure complexity and accuracy between L1 and L2 writing.
In relation to the use of L1 and/or L2 during the process of writing, researchers discussed whether second
language writers use L1 or L2 to think when producing a piece of writing (Stapa and Abdulmajid, 2009; Weijen
et al., 2009; Wang and Wen 2002; Cohen and Brooks-Carson, 2001). Thus, the issue whether ESL students think
directly through the second language or through translating from the first language while writing generated some
interesting research (Woodall, 2002; Wang, 2003). The majority of studies that have compared first language
and second-language writing have found that there are similarities among the strategies used for both L1 and L2
processes (Jones and Tetroe, 1987; Uzawa and Cumming, 1989; Qi, 1998). These studies along with others
reported the possibility of transferring writing strategies from L1situations to L2 contexts. Qi (1998), for
example, found that the woman in the study switched to the L1 when capturing the beginning of an idea, when
developing a thought, when verifying lexical meaning, and when her working memory was overloaded. It was
also revealed that the tasks used in the study required a high level of knowledge and they were also associated
with language switches. The researcher concluded that such tasks may even have the power to provoke language
switches. In a study about switching to first language among writers with differing second-language proficiency,
Wang (2003) reported that the frequencies of students’ switching from one language to another slightly vary
depending on their language proficiency. It was concluded that second language proficiency might impact
student writers’ procedures, quality of thinking and cognitive strategies when writing in L2. Within the same
direction, Stapa and Abdulmajid (2009) reported that students who initially used their L1 to generate ideas
demonstrated better performance when they composed their essay in L2.
A number of earlier L2 writing studies have also examined whether L2 students use L1 while writing in L2
though the influence imposed by L1 on L2 writing was somehow not clear (Friedlander, 1990; Krapels, 1990;
Uzawa, 1996; Woodall, 2002). Those studies reported that L2 writers use their LI while writing in ESL.
Similarly, other researchers have confirmed the same results that ESL writers use their first language while
www.ccsenet.org/ies International Education Studies Vol. 5, No. 5; 2012
175
writing in their L2 for a number of purposes, such as planning (Beare, 2000; Wang, 2003; Woodall, 2002),
generating ideas or content (Beare, 2000; Beare and Bourdages, 2007; Woodall, 2002), or solving linguistic
problems such as vocabulary issues (Beare, 2000; Wang, 2003; Woodall, 2002). Moreover, some other studies
investigated the possible effect of task features (such as topic knowledge or cultural factors) on L1 use and text
quality during L2 writing, but they all failed to find a significant effect of planning during prewriting in the L1 or
the L2 on text quality (Akyel, 1994; Lally, 2000).
Another factor that impacts L2 writing is referred to in the literature as a culture transfer. The transfer of L1
culture into L2 writing is based on some theoretical development such as the contrastive analysis model (Lei,
2008; Xiao-Zia, 2008). It was found that the negative transfer of L1 exceeded the positive one in L2 writing. L1
always impacts L2 writing as adult ESL students have already developed their writing skills and experience in
their first language.
Cultural transfer in the context of Arabic language speakers has captured the attention of very few researchers in
the area of ESL writing (Abu Rass, 2011; Al-Khatib, 2001; Khuwaileh & Shoumali, 2000). According to Abu
Rass (2011), transferring cultural norms and/or behavior is expected to take place when Arab students start to
write in English as they are most of the time reverting to their stored experience and use it in their writing. She
argued that cultural interference represents a real problem for Arab students to enhance their writing skill in
English. Abu Rass (2011) concluded that L1 culture plays a key role in the second language acquisition and
learning and hence it should be given a higher consideration when planning an ESL program. Khuwaileh &
Shoumali, (2000) indicated that Arab students are more likely to brainstorm their thoughts or ideas and prepare
them first in their mother tongue before they start using English to translate and write them down. Some other
support for the issue of cultural transfer was also found in Al-Khatib’s (2001) study about wring personal letters
in English by Jordanian Arab students. The overall findings revealed that Arab students transfer the style and
mode of writing letters in Arabic into L2 writing. Many Arab student writers tend to be indirect in their
expression and they write detailed or long introduction. They are mainly influenced by their sociolinguistic
background and they may assume that their audience shares the same experience with them. Al-Khatib (ibid)
also found that religious factors play crucial role in the convention of writing personal letters in Arabic.
The issue of using translation and thinking in the first language while writing in English has also attracted the
attention of a number of researchers (Kobayashi and Rinnert, 2008; Cohen and Brooks-Carson, 2001; Uzawa,
1996; Wolfersberger, 2003; Weijen, Bergh, Rijlaarsdam, and Sanders, 2009; Wang and Wen, 2002; Kobayashi,
and Rinnert, 1992). Some of those researchers, such as Cohen and Brooks-Carson (2001) focused on the direct
versus translated writing and the strategies used by students when writing directly in L2 and/or when writing first
in L1 and then translating into L2. The question posed by Cohen and Brooks-Carson (2001) is that whether
thinking through the first language and even writing out a text first in the L1 may actually enhance quality
writing production in L2. The researchers found that two-thirds of the students performed better in the
direct-writing task and one-third of the students did better in the translated writing task. Another finding was that
grammar rating across writing modes was not found to be significantly different. The students also reported that
they thought in English most of the time while they were writing their essays. Cohen’s and Brooks-Carson’s
(ibid) study draws attention to the different ways that students may employ for using their first language when
they are writing a translated essay in L2.
In a study about the use of translation, Uzawa (1996) reported results in favor of the translated assignments.
Twenty two Japanese students studying ESL in Canada participated in the study. All students were asked to
perform three tasks (writing direct essay in L2, writing an essay in L1 and then translating it into L2). Thinking
Aloud Protocol, interview techniques and writing samples were the main tools used for collecting data. Uzawa
(1996) reported that students showed better use of the language in the translated essay than they did in the
L1essay and the direct essay. Also the attention patterns in the direct and L1 tasks were found to be similar but
they were different in the translated task. In their study, Wang and Wen (2002) confirmed that the L2 writing
process is a bilingual event since the second language writers have two languages (L1 and L2) at their disposal
when they are attempting to compose a text in L2. However, the central problem is that it is not clear how the
use of L1 is related to the occurrence of different cognitive activities in a second language writing, such as
planning and generating ideas. The reason behind first language use and the type of cognitive activities
employed while writing is still not clear.
The area of language learning strategies in general and writing strategies in particular have recently received
some attention. A number of studies were conducted to explore effective language and writing strategies and
their benefits to improve students’ performance (Ismail, 2011; Roca de Larios, Manchon and Murphy, 2008;
Sasaki, 2004, 2007; Wong, 2005; Casanave, 2002; Lv and Chen, 2010; Griffiths, 2007; Wenyu and Yang, 2008).
www.ccsenet.org/ies International Education Studies Vol. 5, No. 5; 2012
176
Strategies refer to learners’ efforts to exploit a variety of procedures and actions for the purpose of learning
and/or using a foreign or a second language (Zhang and Goh, 2006). Those strategies are classified into four
different sets according to whether they are cognitive, social, affective or metacognitive (Cohen 1998). This
particular classification is recognized to be a popular framework for categorizing and studying the strategies used
to learn certain skills. In the area of language strategy, Griffiths (2007) investigated both the reported frequency
of strategies used by ESL students and teachers’ views of the importance of using such strategies. The findings
of this study revealed that teachers regard the use of strategies as highly important for better achievements. It
was also found that there is a strong relationship between those strategies students reported using highly
frequently and those strategies seen by teachers as highly important for learning.
In the area of cognitive strategies, Lv and Chen (2010) investigated the effect of metacognitive strategies training
on students’ writing performance in a vocational college. Metacognitive experience in writing is seen to include
emotional experience and cognitive experience. The cognitive experience helps students during the process of
writing monitor and redirect their efforts through self-questioning. Emotional experience assists in elevating
students’ interests, motivation and desire to produce a good piece of writing. Lv and Chen (ibid) found that the
teaching method, which encourages the use of metacognitive strategies, has an impact on students’ writing
performance. In an interesting study about writing strategies of Chinese EFL students, Wenyu and Yang (2008)
investigated the relations among writing strategies, writing proficiency and writing scores. They used both the
“Stimulated Recall Protocol Technique” and a questionnaire to gather the necessary data for their study. It was
found that there were significant differences in the use of strategies between students who were studying English
as their main major and students from other majors. They concluded by suggesting some pedagogical
implications to help Chinese EFL student writers even those with diverse writing ability improve their writing
skills.
4. Method
4.1 Participants
Thirty six university female students participated in the study. Twenty four of them were taking a content and
pedagogy course while the rest of them were following an ESL methodology course with one of the two
researchers who was the instructor of both courses at the time of collecting the data. All these students were
either in their third or fourth year in the elementary teachers program in the Faculty of Education in the United
Arab Emirates University (UAEU). These students hope to become English teachers in public schools after their
graduation. Their language proficiency was determined by their scores in the IELTS exam. The majority of them
fell in the five-band score while a few of them scored 5.5. The reason for selecting these two groups of students
to participate in the study is that they were at that time preparing for their “Content Exam” which includes a
writing section. They became more enthusiastic to participate in the study when they were informed that the
writing topics would be similar to those topics of the “Content Exam”.
4.2 Instruments
Three different tools were used to collect the necessary data for answering the three research questions. The first
instrument included two writing prompts similar to writing tasks used in standardized writing tests such as the
IELTS and TOEFL exams. Both prompts were translated into Arabic to make sure that all participants
understand the intent of each topic. Those two topics were expected to be controversial and generate more ideas
from students. The two topics are: 1. should foreign language instruction begin in kindergarten? 2. Will modern
technology, such as the Internet ever replace the book or the written word as the main source of information?
The second and third instruments were adopted carefully from Cohen’s and Brooks- Carson’s (2001) study to
suit the subjects, purpose and context of the study. The second instrument included a questionnaire regarding the
strategies used by students to write the three essays (L2 direct essay, L1 and translated essays). The
questionnaire for the first and second essays were identical as they were intended to elicit information for
research question 2 which sought to investigate if there are any significant differences between the use of
strategies in L1 and L2 writing. The strategy questionnaire for the translated essay included some additional
items. Each of the first two questionnaires included 11 items while the third one included 13 items. Each
questionnaire was constructed in a five point Likart scale descending from 5 (always) to 1 (never). The third
instrument included five follow-up open ended questions to elicit information about students’ experience and/or
advantages and disadvantages of writing directly in English and translating an essay into English after writing it
in Arabic. Only 25 students responded to these questions as 11 of them were absent on that day.
The multi-trait rating scale was carefully adopted from Cohen’s and Brooks- Carson’s (2001) study to suit the
study’s purpose and context. The scale was adjusted to assess those features of writing that emphasized the form
www.ccsenet.org/ies International Education Studies Vol. 5, No. 5; 2012
177
and function of the writing products more than the content and/or the ideas expressed by the students. It included
eleven items of five point Likart scale descending from 5 (excellent performance) to 1(poor performance).
4.3 Data Collection
All the data were collected during the second semester of the academic year 2010-2011. During two of the
classes of each group, students were given a list of two different topics and instructed to write three essays not
exceeding a page for each composition. They were asked to write an essay directly in English and to write the
second essay in Arabic and then translate it into English. Direction was given to students to organize their essay
by including an introduction, one or two body paragraphs and a conclusion. Time limit (30-40 minutes for each
essay) was observed by reminding the students about the allotted time prior to the start of each session. In order
to control for order effect, the students were divided into two groups and each group started to write a different
essay from the other group. Students were also not permitted to use any tools, such as dictionaries to eliminate
the effect of any other variables. After each composition, students were given the relevant questionnaire to elicit
the strategies they used. At the end, each student was asked to answer the follow-up questions regarding their
opinions about the advantages and disadvantages of direct and translated compositions.
4.4 Data Analysis
The direct and translated essays were graded by two ESL competent educators. The first rater was an ESL
faculty member who has been heavily involved in teaching ESL writing. The second rater was an experienced
high school competent ESL teacher. Initially, a meeting was conducted to give them a thorough idea about the
purpose and the nature of the study. Then, a workshop was conducted to discuss the rubrics and show them how
to mark each paragraph. Later, a calibration session was conducted to make sure that the two raters were
consistent in their evaluation and they have understood and interpreted the rubrics in the same way. They marked
all the scripts together on the same table and they sometimes stopped to discuss any discrepancy and reach an
agreement. Finally, the inter-rater reliability value was calculated to guarantee an acceptable agreement.
An inter-rater reliability analysis using the Kappa was performed to determine consistency between the two
raters for the direct writing essay in English. The inter-rater reliability for the two raters was found to be
Kappa .489. As stated in the literature, this value is an indicator of a good inter-rater reliability (Landis, 1977).
Also, the inter-raters reliability value for the translated essay (.493) was found to be slightly higher than that of
the direct essay (.489). This value is also considered to be a good indicator of raters’ consistency.
The average grades for both raters were input into the Statistical Package for Social Sciences program (SPSS
18.0) to obtain descriptive statistics and independent sample t-tests. Similarly, the data collected by the strategy
questionnaires for the direct and the L1 essay were input into the SPSS program to obtain descriptive statistics
and independent sample t-tests. The qualitative data collected by the follow-up questions were categorized into
themes or recurrent patterns. Following a qualitative analysis technique suggested by Patton (2002), the
researcher looked at ‘‘the details and specifics” of the data collected via the follow-up questions to discover
important patterns and themes and interrelationships. The frequencies and percentages for each recurrent pattern
were calculated. The data collected about the used strategies for writing the translated essay were put into a table
and the frequencies and percentages for each item were also calculated.
5. Results and Discussion
Research question 1addressed the issue of students’ writing production for both the direct and translated essays.
All results in table 1 demonstrate statistically significant differences between the direct and translated essays. All
the significant differences are in favor of the direct essay. The overall means for both essays range from 2.83 to
3.42. These results clearly reveal that students performed better when they wrote their essays directly in English.
One of the interpretations for having all these interesting and statistically significant results is that those students
have always been asked to write their assignments in English and they have very limited chances to translate into
Arabic. The above results are in agreement with results reported by Cohen and Brooks-Carson (2001) in their
study with students who were studying French as a second language. They found that some students prefer to
write directly in French especially when they are under time pressure. The mean performance for students who
started writing their essay directly in French was reported to be better than the mean of the other group. However,
the mean scores for students who started writing the translated essay were not found to be statistically
significant.
The mean scores for item 5 (Clarity of Points) were 3.57 and 3.07 for the direct and translated essay respectively.
The result for the direct essay is considered to be an interesting one as it is the highest of all other results. This
result reveals that students can write their ideas clearly when composing directly in English. The second highest
www.ccsenet.org/ies International Education Studies Vol. 5, No. 5; 2012
178
result in favor of the direct essay was the one for the second item (variety of vocabulary). This might be because
students felt free to make their choices for the appropriate vocabulary when they thought and wrote their essay
directly in English. Since those students did not have sufficient experience in professional translation, they
tended to focus on the exact meaning of each word and they ended using limited number of vocabulary in the
translated essay. Another interpretation is that those students might not have enough experience in writing in
their first language. Many of them tended to organize the translated essay in the same way as they wrote it in
Arabic. Woodall (2002) indicated that the differences between the uses of L1 by students may be attributed to
students’ different writing ability in L1. Good writing ability in L1 may contribute to progressing in learning to
write in L2. Woodall (2002) also argued that when writing in L2, students have the experience of two languages
that might possess different writing conventions and styles. All these elements interact together during the
process of composing in L2 and they may either assist or hinder the accomplishment of the writing task. In line
with this argument, Weijen et al (2009) reported that all students used their L1 to some extent while writing L2
tasks. One of their interesting points is that general writing proficiency was found to have negative effect on L1
use during L2 composing and a positive influence on L2 use during the process of writing directly in L2.
The lowest mean score for the translated essay was the one for item 7 (Use of Subordinations). This result
highlights students’ difficulties in using subordinates to write longer sentences. Some students tried to use
subordinates but they ended writing grammatically incorrect sentences. Table 1 also shows other lower mean
scores for the translated essay, such as the ones concerning the use of relative pronouns, smoothness of
connectors and the use of verbs. When considering the use of relative pronouns in both direct and translated
essays, we realize that the number of students who got acceptable scores for this point were very limited. The
low mean score for this item clearly shows that students did not do very well in using the relative pronouns. The
use of verbs also represented real problems for a considerable number of students. Those difficulties were
reflected by a lower mean score (2.76) for this item for the translated essay. Generally, all results of the
translated essay demonstrate that students have difficulties with language use. These results of language use are
not in agreement with what Uzawa (1996) found in her study about Japanese students who were studying
English as a second language in an educational institution in Canada. She reported that the mean score (5.62) of
language use in the translation task was better than those scores of the other two tasks (L1 task and direct writing
task in L2). The efficient language use by the Japanese students in Uzawa’s study might be attributed to the
learners’ language proficiency and the context of the study.
Table 1. Students’ Performance in Direct and Translated Compositions
Overall
Mean
Direct
Mean
Trans
Mean
T-Tests Sig.
(2-tailed)
freedom from translation influence 3.06 3.43 2.69 5.885 .000
variety in vocabulary 3.42 3.56 3.29 2.695 .009
sense of the language 3.10 3.39 2.81 4.726 .000
organizational structure 3.17 3.51 2.82 5.468 .000
clarity of points 3.32 3.57 3.07 3.859 .000
smoothness of linking words 2.96 3.18 2.74 4.244 .000
use of subordinations 2.85 3.07 2.63 3.853 .000
use of relative pronouns 2.83 3.00 2.67 2.582 .012
use of prepositions/ Articles 3.11 3.32 2.90 3.821 .000
noun/adjective agreement 3.05 3.24 2.86 3.178 .002
use of verbs 2.96 3.15 2.76 3.606 .001
Note. *p< 0.05
Research question 2 addressed whether there are any significant differences between students’ use of writing
strategies in L2 and L1. Table 2 demonstrates no statistically significant result. The overall means for all items
range from 2.60 to 4.04. All overall mean scores are less than 4 except the one for the third item (pay attention to
the connecting words you chose to link ideas together {M=4.04}). This result highlights students’ feeling of
competence in using this strategy in both languages. Students might have learned to use this strategy in Arabic or
English and they perhaps have been capable of transferring it from one language to another. Evidence from the
literature can be found in a number of studies that have compared first language and second-language writing
www.ccsenet.org/ies International Education Studies Vol. 5, No. 5; 2012
179
and have found that there are similarities among the strategies used for both L1 and L2 processes (Jones and
Tetroe, 1987; Uzawa and Cumming, 1989; Qi, 1998).
Although the t-tests shows no statistically significant differences between the uses of strategies in both essays,
the individual mean scores for item 4 (attempt to use a wide variety of vocabulary) demonstrate some difference
in favor of the L1 essay. The mean scores were 4.08 and 3.47 for the L1 essay and the direct essay respectively.
This result emphasizes students’ confidence to vary their vocabulary when writing in L1. However, insufficient
experience in writing directly in L2, language proficiency and thinking in both languages might have contributed
to the difficulties students encountered in the choice of vocabulary for the direct essay as compared with the L1
essay. In their study about the differences in L1 use among students of various language proficiency levels,
Wang and Wen (2002) found that the lower level writers depend more on L1 than the higher level ones. They
argued that L2 writers will rely less and less on the use of their L1 as they continue to develop their L2 language
proficiency. The results of this study highlight the gradual development for composing the L2 texts. The
development of students’ ability to compose texts in L2 can be like a continuum, starting with translation of texts
from L1 to L2 and ending with writing direct texts in L2. In line with this argument, Turnbull and Dailey-O’Cain
(2009) argued that the use of L1 in classrooms should not substitute or compromise for the importance of second
language acquisition. Rather, it should be put into practice to facilitate L2 learning and help learners meet the
demands of content area writing tasks (cited in, Kibler, 2010).
Table 2. L1 and L2 Writing Strategies
Overall
Mean
L1
Mean
L2
Mean
T-Tes
ts
Sig.
(2-taile
d)
plan out the organization of the essay in advance 3.88 3.78 3.97 -.929 .356
plan out the organization of the essay as you went
along
3.56 3.64 3.47 .701 .486
pay attention to the connecting words you chose to
link ideas together
4.04 4.08 4.00 .357 .722
attempt to use a wide variety of vocabulary 3.78 4.08 3.47 2.598 .011
find yourself thinking in English 2.60 2.47 2.72 -.816 .417
purposely make use of complex grammatical
structures
2.79 2.83 2.75 -.816 .741
purposely connect shorter sentences into longer,
complex sentences
3.08 3.19 2.97 1.030 .306
check for subject-verb agreement in the essay 3.58 3.64 3.53 .461 .646
make sure that the negative forms were used
properly
2.96 2.97 2.94 .110 .913
check for adjectives and adverbs use in a sentence 3.39 3.42 3.36 .209 .835
make sure that the passive forms were used properly 3.11 3.14 3.08 .222 825
Note. *p< 0.05
Research question 3 examined students’ views regarding their experience (advantages and disadvantages) in
writing the direct and translated essays. Table 3 demonstrates a number of high percentages extracted from the
answers to the follow-up questions for the advantages and disadvantages of writing both essays. The highest
percentage (72%) of students indicated that it is an advantage to write an essay first in L1 and then translate it to
English as this procedure may assist in generating more ideas and writing more organized details. Evidence from
the literature is found in Stapa’s and Abdulmajid’s (2009) study which reported that students who initially used
their L1 to generate ideas demonstrated better performance when they composed their essay in L2. Another
similar result is found in Uzawa’s (1996) study in which most participants reported that both translation and L2
writing tasks are helpful for learning and improving a second language. Uzawa (ibid) argued that translation
activities may have some benefits for ESL learners as they always pay careful attention to language use during
the process of translation from L1 to L2. Wang (2003) also argued that the amount of L1 use when writing in
ESL was not reduced as a result of language proficiency improvement. Wang (ibid) pointed out that student
writers switch to the L1 for rhetorical and discourse choices which represent a great help for them. In line with
www.ccsenet.org/ies International Education Studies Vol. 5, No. 5; 2012
180
this result, Cohen’s and Brooks-Carson’s (2001) reported that students did better in organizing the translated
essay.
When considering the advantages of writing directly in English, a considerable number of students (48%) agreed
that it is easier and quicker for them to think and write directly in English. Some students (32%) think that they
prefer to write directly in English because they follow their study in that language and they feel it is easier for
them. A number of students (44%) also think that writing directly in English will help them improve their
writing skill. In Cohen’s and Brooks-Carson’s (2001) study, the students as a whole group asserted that
practicing to compose directly in L2 will ultimately assist them in focusing on French expression and will help
them improve their L2 language. They pointed out that they found it easier and even sometimes faster to write
directly in French than translating a piece of writing from L1. Also, Cohen and brooks-Carson reported that
students with a higher self-assessed index of proficiency in French and students who rated themselves as more
proficient in French expressed their preference to write directly in French.
Three major disadvantages for the translated essay were highlighted by a considerable number of students. The
first result demonstrates that the majority of students (52%) think that translation is a very difficult task as they
feel confused and find difficulties in organizing their ideas. The second result shows that a number of students
(36%) feel it is hard to find the exact word or expression when translating into English. The third interesting
result reveals that some students (32%) think that their problems in translation are due to the different writing
conventions of Arabic and English. Thus, this result is consistent with the reported significant results in table 1.
Table 3. Advantages and Disadvantages of Writing direct and Translated Compositions
Advantages of writing first in L1 and then translating into English
Item Frequency %
think and generate ideas 5 20
easy to transfer and think about ideas and then write in English 5 20
assist in getting more ideas and writing more organized details 18 72
the essay can be rich of ideas and vocabulary 6 24
help write quickly and easily 3 12
help connect each paragraph together 1 4
writing in Arabic does not have a lot of rules 2 8
learn more vocabulary in English 4 16
help learners improve their writing 2 8
Disadvantages of writing first in L1 and then translate into English
difficult to translate into English and get confused when organizing the translated
essay
13 52
difficulty in translating some words into English 3 12
wasting time in translation 6 24
difficult to find the exact meaning of words or expression in English 9 36
the two languages have different ways of writing 8 32
not used to write in Arabic and have already forgotten how to write and organize
ideas in Arabic
2 8
cannot remember some vocabulary in Arabic 1 4
Advantages of writing directly in English
easier and quicker to write ideas directly in English 12 48
easy to write in English as a result of studying in English 8 32
saving time when writing directly in English 7 28
improving English writing skills 11 44
controlling ideas 3 12
making a few mistakes 1 4
writing without thinking about translation 1 4
helping us evaluate our writing 2 8
Disadvantages of writing directly in English
difficult to organize ideas 2 8
difficult to choose topics 1 4
www.ccsenet.org/ies International Education Studies Vol. 5, No. 5; 2012
181
Research question 4 dealt with the most frequent strategies students indicated to have used in writing the
translated essay. Table 4 demonstrates a number of interesting results about specific strategies students agreed to
have used during the process of writing their translated essay. A great number of students (69%) indicated that
they always or often try to make an effort to think how best to express their ideas in English. However, writing
directly in English may not offer them this opportunity to think about a better way for expressing their ideas in
L2. In line with this result, Stapa and Abdulmajid (2009) argued in favor of the use of the L1 as they found that
students who initially used their L1 to generate ideas demonstrated better performance when they composed their
essay in L2. They reiterated that writing is a complex cognitive activity, so that teachers and educators should
take all the necessary measures to facilitate the process of learning how to write in L2, including the use of L1
and/or translation.
Another interesting result shows that a great number (69%) of students indicated that they always or often
attempted to find the best connecting words suitable for linking ideas together. When comparing the strategies
used by students for L1 essay and L2 direct essay, it was found that there is no significant difference between the
uses of this strategy in the two essays (see table 2). However, when considering their performance in this item,
students’ scores for the direct essay were found to be better than their scores for the translated one. Generally,
this result clearly highlights the difficulty students find in using the right connectors. In their translated essay it
was realized that many students avoided using any kind of connectors. This might be attributed to the nature of
the translation they conducted in writing the translated essay. As a result of translating the essay sentence by
sentence, students might ignore the issue of connecting those sentences and organizing them according to
English language writing conventions. Many students (69%) pointed out that they always or often try to change
the organization to fit the English language system when translating from L1 to L2. In Cohen’s and
Brooks-Carson’s (2001) study, students reported that “sometimes” they attempted to change the organization of
the French text (L2) in order to fit the organization of the English essay (L1) when conducting the translation
process. The less frequent change students conducted in the later study might be attributed to the similarities
between English and French organizational systems.
Table 4. Translated Composition Strategies
5
Always
4
Usually
3
Sometimes
2
Rarely
1
Never
Frq % Frq % Frq % Frq % Frq %
stick to the organization used in the first
essay
9 25.0 12 33.3 8 22.2 4 11.1 3 8.3
change the organization somewhat to fit the
English language writing convention
8 22.2 16 44.4 8 22.2 3 8.3 1 2.8
attempt to find the best connecting words
used to link ideas together
12 33.3 13 36.1 9 25.0 2 5.6
make an effort to think how best to express
the ideas in English
10 27.8 15 41.7 8 22.2 1 2.8 2 5.6
avoid translating word-for-word 14 38.9 7 19.4 13 36.1 1 2.8 1 2.8
have difficulty finding translation
equivalents in English for words in the
essay
3 8.3 7 19.4 15 41.7 8 22.2 3 8.3
find yourself using simpler words and
structures in English
5 13.9 13 36.1 16 44.4 2 5.6
attempt to use a wide variety of vocabulary 4 11.1 9 25.0 17 47.2 5 13.9 1 2.8
purposely make use of complex
grammatical structures
1 2.8 6 16.7 10 27.8 16 44.4 3 8.3
check for subject-verb agreement in the
essay
4 11.1 10 27.8 14 38.9 7 19.4 1 2.8
make sure that the negative forms were used
properly
2 5.6 6 16.7 17 47.2 9 25.0 2 5.6
check for adjective agreement in gender and
number
4 11.1 7 19.4 17 47.2 8 22.2
make sure that the passive forms were used
properly
2 5.6 11 30.6 19 52.8 3 8.3 1 2.8
www.ccsenet.org/ies International Education Studies Vol. 5, No. 5; 2012
182
6. Recommendations
The present study highlighted a number of important results regarding the advantages and disadvantages of
writing directly in L2 and translated writing from L1 to L2. Those results helped in extracting the following
instructional recommendations. Teachers should expose students directly to the norms of writing in L2 and
provide them with enough and continuous opportunities to practice writing in different genres in L2. At early
stages, teachers should explicitly highlight the differences between the norms of writing in L1 and L2 as writing
in Arabic is to some extent different from writing in English. Students should always be encouraged to reflect on
their writing experience in L2 and they should always be encouraged to use their first language writing
experience when writing in L2. Finally, students should be helped to become aware of the strategies they use
when writing in L1 and they should be taught how to transfer and use those strategies when writing in L2.
7. Conclusion
This study examined students’ performance and strategies in writing a direct and a translated composition. It also
investigated students’ views regarding the advantages and disadvantages of both compositions. Two prompts
were used for writing the required essays. Also a questionnaire was distributed after each essay to elicit the kinds
of strategies students used in writing the different essays. The findings of the study demonstrate statistically
significant differences between the direct and the translated essay. Interestingly, all the findings are in favor of
the essay written directly in English. All these results highlight the importance of exposing ESL/EFL student
writers directly to the norms of writing in L2. However, the results of the strategy questionnaire reveal no
statistically significant differences between the direct and the L1 compositions. This indicates that students may
transfer L1 writing strategies when writing in L2 and vice versa. The analysis of the qualitative data collected by
the follow-up questions demonstrates positive attitudes toward the task written directly in English. Most of the
results extracted from the qualitative data are consistent with the results obtained from the quantitative data.
While analyzing the data, certain important issues, which were not accounted for in the research design, emerged
surprisingly, such as the issues of translation and L1 writing proficiency. Hence, these issues need to be further
investigated in the future to understand their impact on students’ L2 writing. Moreover, research in the future
may focus on comparing the writing strategies students claimed to have used in writing the different essays and
the actual use of such strategies.
Acknowledgement
This research project was funded by the Research Affairs at the UAE University under a contract no.
08-01-11-2011 with the first author. The researchers would like to thank the Research Affairs at the UAE
University for supporting this study financially.
References
Abu Rass, R. (2011). Cultural transfer as an obstacle for writing well in English: The case of Arabic speakers
writing in English. English language Teaching, 4(2), 206-212.
Akyel, A. (1994). First language use in EFL writing: Planning in Turkish vs. planning in English. International
Journal of Applied Linguistics, 4, 169-197. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1473-4192.1994.tb00062.x
Al-Khatib, M. (2001). The pragmatics of letter writing. World Englishes, 20(2), 179-200.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-971X.00208
Alsamadani, H. A. (2010). The Relationship between Saudi EFL Students’ Writing Competence, L1 Writing
Proficiency, and Self-regulation. European Journal of Social Sciences, 16(1), 53-63.
Baker, B. A. (2008). L2 writing and L1 composition in English: Towards an alignment of Effort. McGill Journal
of Education, 43(2), 139-155. http://dx.doi.org/10.7202/019579ar
Beare, S. (2000). Differences in content generating and planning processes of adult L1and L2 proficient writers.
Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario.
Beare, S., & Bourdages, J. S. (2007). Skilled writers’ generating strategies in L1 and L2: An exploratory study.
In G. Rijlaarsdam (Series Ed.) & M. Torrance, L. VanWaes, and D. Galbraith (Vol. Eds.). Studies in
Writing, 20, Writing and Cognition: Research and Applications (pp. 151-161). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Casanave, C. P. (2002). Writing games: Multicultural case studies of academic literacy practices in higher
education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Cohen, A. D. (1998). Strategies in Learning and Using a Second Language. Harlow: Longman.
www.ccsenet.org/ies International Education Studies Vol. 5, No. 5; 2012
183
Cohen, A., & Brooks-Carson, A. (2001). Research on direct versus translated writing: Students’ strategies and
their results. The Modern Language Journal, 85(2), 169-188. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0026-7902.00103
Connor, U. (2002). New Directions in Contrastive Rhetoric. TESOL Quarterly, 36(4), 493-510.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3588238
Dyc, G. (2002). Language learning in the American Southwestern borderlands: Navajo speakers and their
transition to academic English literacy. Bilingual Research Journal, 26(3), 611-630.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15235882.2002.10162581
F, B., & Jimenez, A. (2004). Problem-solving tasks in a foreign language: The importance of the L1 in private
verbal thinking. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 14, 7-35.
Friedlander, A. (1990). Composing in English: Effects of a first language on writing in English as a second
language. In B. Kroll (Ed.), Second language writing: Research insights for the classroom (pp. 109-125).
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Griffiths, C. (2007). Language learning strategies: students’ and teachers’ perceptions. ELT Journal, 61(2), 91-99.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/elt/ccm001
Ismail, S. (2011). Exploring students’ perceptions of ESL writing. English Language Teaching, 4(2), 73-83.
Jones, S., & Tetroe, J. (1987). Composing in a second language. In A. Matsuhashi (Ed.), Writing in real time:
Modeling production processes (pp. 34-57). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Kamimura, T. (2001). Japanese students’ L1-L2 writing connections: Written texts, writing competence,
composing processes, and writing attitudes. The Bulletin of the Kanto-Koshin-Etsu English Language
Education Society, 15, 165-183.
Khuwaileh, A. A., & Shoumali, A. A. (2000). Writing errors: A study in writing ability of Arabic learners of
academic English and Arabic at university. Language, culture and curriculum. 13(2), 174-183.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07908310008666597
Kibler, A. (2010). Writing through two languages: First language expertise in a language minority classroom.
Journal of Second Language Writing, 19(3), 121-142. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2010.04.001
Kobayash, H., & Rinnert, C. (2008). Task responses and task construction across L1 and L2 writing. Journal of
Second Language Writing, 17(1), 7-29. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2007.08.004
Kobayashi, H., & Rinnert, C. (1992). Effects of first language on second language writing: Translation versus
direct composition. Language Learning, 42(2), 183-209.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1992.tb00707.x
Kohro, Y. (2009). A contrastive study between L1 and l2 composition: Focusing on global text structure,
composition quality and variables in L2 writing. Dialogue, 8, 1-19.
Krapels, A. R. (1990). An overview of second language writing process research. In B. Kroll (Ed.), Second
language writing: Research insights for the classroom (pp. 37-56). Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press.
Lally, C. G. (2000). First language influences in second language composition: The effect of pre-writing.
Foreign Language Annals, 33(4), 428-432. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1944-9720.2000.tb00623.x
Landis, J. R., & Koch, G.G. (1977). The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data. Biometrics 33(1),
159-174. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2529310
Lei, X. (2008). Exploring a sociocultural approach to writing strategy research: Mediated action in writing
activities. Journal of Second Language Writing, 17(4), 217-236.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2008.04.001
Leki, I. (2000). Writing, literacy and applied linguistics. Annual review of Applied Linguistics, 20, 99-115.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0267190500200068
Lv, F., & Chen, H. (2010). A Study of Metacognitive-Strategies-Based Writing Instruction for Vocational
College Students. English Language Teaching, 3(3), 136-144.
Martínez, I. A. (2005). Native and non-native writers’ use of first person pronouns in the different sections of
biology research articles in English. Journal of Second Language Writing, 14(3), 174-190.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2005.06.001
www.ccsenet.org/ies International Education Studies Vol. 5, No. 5; 2012
184
McCarthey, S. J., et al. (2005). Understanding changes in elementary Mandarin students’ L1 and L2 writing.
Journal of Second Language Writing, 14(2), 71-104. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2005.05.003
Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Publications, Inc.
Qi, D. S. (1998). An inquiry into language-switching in second language composing processes. The Canadian
Modern Language Review/La Revue canadienne des langues vivantes, 54, 413-435.
Ramanathan, V., & Kaplan, R. B. (1996). Audience and voice in current L1 composition texts: Some
implications for ESL student writers. Journal of Second Language Writing, 5(1), 21-34.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1060-3743(96)90013-2
Roca de Larios, J., Murphy, L., & Manchon, R. (1999). The use of restructuring strategies in EFL writing: A
study of Spanish learners of English as a foreign language. Journal of Second Language Writing, 8(1),
13-44. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1060-3743(99)80111-8
Sasaki, M. (2004). A multi-data analysis of the 3.5-year development of EFL student writers. Language
Learning, 54(3), 525-582. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0023-8333.2004.00264.x
Sasaki, M. (2007). Effects of study-abroad experiences on EFL writers: A multiple-data analysis. The Modern
Language Journal, 91(4), 602–620. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2007.00625.x
Stapa, S. H., & Abdulmajid, A. (2009). The Use of First Language in Developing Ideas in Second Language
Writing. European Journal of Social Sciences, 7(4), 41-47.
Turnbull, M., & Dailey-O’Cain, J. (2009a). Introduction. In M. Turnbull and J. Dailey-O’Cain (Eds.), First
language use in second and foreign language learning (pp. 1-14). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Uzawa, K. (1996). Second language learners’ processes of Ll writing, L.2 Writing, and Translation from Ll into
L2. Journal of Second Language Writing, 5(3), 271-294. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1060-3743(96)90005-3
Uzawa, K., & Cumming, A. (1989). Writing strategies in Japanese as a foreign language: Lowering or keeping
up the standards. The Canadian Modern Language Review/La Revue canadienne des langues vivantes, 46,
178-194.
Wang, L. (2003). Switching to first language among writers with differing second-language proficiency. Journal
of Second Language Writing, 12(4), 347-375. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2003.08.003
Wang, W., & Wen, Q. (2002). L1 use in the L2 composing process: An exploratory study of 16 Chinese EFL
writers. Journal of Second Language Writing, 11(3), 225-246.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1060-3743(02)00084-X
Weijen, D., et al. (2009). L1 use during L2 writing: An empirical study of a complex phenomenon. Journal of
Second Language Writing, 18(4), 235-250. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2009.06.003
Wenyu, L., & Yang, L. (2008). Research on EFL writing strategy using SRP: An empirical study in DUT. The
Asian EFL Journal, 10(2), 51-83.
Wolfersberger, M. (2003). L1 to L2 Writing Process and Strategy Transfer: A Look at Lower Proficiency Writers.
TESL-EJ, 7(2), 1-12.
Wong, A. T. Y. (2005). Writers’ mental representation of the intended audience and of the rhetorical purpose for
writing and the strategies that they employed when they composed. System, 33, 29-47.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2004.06.009
Woodall, B. R. (2002). Language switching: using the first language while writing in a second language. Journal
of Second Language Writing, 11(1), 7-28. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1060-3743(01)00051-0
Xiaoxia, L. (2008). Literature review on the use and effect of L1 in L2 writing. US-China Foreign Language,
6(5), 50-53.
Zainuddin, H., & Moore, R. (2003). Audience Awareness in L1 and L2 Composing of Bilingual Writers, ESL-EJ,
7(1), 1-19.
Zare-ee, A., & Farvardin, M. (2009). Comparison of university level EFL learners’ linguistic and rhetorical
patterns as reflected in their L1 and L2 writing. Novitas-ROYAL, 3(2), 143-155.
Zhang, D., & Goh, C. (2006). Strategy knowledge and perceived strategy use: Singaporean students’ awareness
of listening and speaking strategies. Language Awareness, 15(3), 199-219.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2167/la342.0
... But as regards students' grammatical competence, they should master that the predictability of a narrative genre is with the use of past tense of the verbs. Put simply, students should be exposed to the distinct features of each genre (Ismail & Alsheikh, 2012). ...
... Thus, students should pay attention to the general context, parts of speech and collocation of the target language while translating. In addition, Ismail and Alsheikh (2012) reported that fourth year elementary education students performed better when they wrote essays directly in English. The results may be attributed to the fact that the students have been used to writing English essays, thus neglecting the use of translation, from Arabic to English. ...
... Second, the use of mother tongue during translation process triggers negative transfer due to the different systems of the two languages (Pan & Pan, 2012). In the study of Ismail and Alsheikh (2012), the student-respondents did not favor the use of translation because it can confuse them when organizing their ideas, when choosing the exact words and expressions, especially on the issue of out-ofcontext translation (Zawahreh, 2013) just for the sake of translation. Another reason was due to the obvious and predictable difference of writing conventions between Arabic and English which failed students to naturally and authentically translate one sentence to another (Sarhady, 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper attempts to investigate whether or not translation facilitates the accuracy of the past tense. It looks at the correlations between the two translation tasks and the actual writing of a narrative genre. One hundred seventeen second year university students from the General Education program enrolled in Writing in the Discipline took the four writing tasks as their prelim examination. Four writing tasks included: word level morphological transformation, sentence level translation, paragraph level translation, and actual writing of a narrative genre. Results show that both translation tasks, and paragraph writing are statistically different when students are grouped according to the language used at home. All four writing tasks are high in level whether students are bilingual or multilingual speakers. The correlations between sentence level translation and paragraph level translation to the actual paragraph narrative writing aver that translation facilitates the accuracy of the past tense of the verbs in actual paragraph narrative writing. The study offers implications for language teaching and learning, and the relevance of the study for the Mother Tongue-Based–Multilingual Education curriculum implemented in the Philippines.
... However, when it comes to the comparison of the two languages while writing in terms of cognitive aspects, argumentative and persuasive essay types are more common than the other types of essays (Machon, Roca and Murphy, 2000;Wang and Wen, 2002;Weijen, et al.,2009;Murphy and Roca, 2010;Glynn, et al.,1982;Ismail and Alsheikh, 2012). ...
Thesis
Full-text available
The purpose of this study is to develop a production span test to be used in L1 Turkish and L2 English and to see the role of working memory in the L1 and L2 writing process and quality. In addition to the role of working memory in writing, the study examines if working memory training leads to an increase in working memory capacity and subsequently leads to any change in the writing process and quality due to the improvement in working memory capacity. Twenty-eight freshman students from the Department of English Language Teaching (ELT) who are native speakers of Turkish participated in the study. The study consisted of two parts: a) developing a production span test in L1 Turkish and L2 English and b) examining the relationship between working memory and writing process and quality in L1 and L2, as well as the impact of working memory training on working memory capacity and the writing process in addition to writing quality in L1 and L2. Data comes from reading span test, production span tests which were used for the working memory capacity, and also Inputlog. The writing process was quantified through Inputlog and online working memory training was given to the experimental group for eight weeks through Lumosity. Statistical analyses of factor analyses of Varimax rotation, Spearman's rank-order correlation, and Mann-Whitney U test were used. Argumentative essays in L1 Turkish and L2 English were used for the writing quality and the writing process components. The findings of the study revealed implications with respect to the working memory and writing relationship and the impact of working memory training on the working memory capacity.
... If compared to the previous graphs (low and intermediate proficiency levels), the substitute cohesion was found in Malay direct writing (3) and English translation writing (1) and the ellipsis was used in English direct writing (1) as well as in Malay direct writing(2). ...
Article
Full-text available
Studies have revealed that first language has significant impacts on learners’ second language development. Utilizing L1 in the writing processes such as translation method and direct writing is a conventional strategy used by low proficiency level L2 learners. However, there is a lack of studies that determine the quality of writing influenced by L1 transfer. This study aims to provide a comparative analysis on the use of cohesive markers as a result of the use of Malay in English written text via translation and direct composition. The writing quality in terms of content, organisation and writing style of a group of students with low, intermediate and advanced proficiency levels from a secondary school in the district of Tangkak, Johor was scrutinised. Data were collected via two different topics of writing tasks using direct composition and translation writing process. The first topic involved English direct composition while the second topic employed direct Malay composition which was then translated into English. The results of the study indicated that English essays of direct writing showed less variety of cohesive markers as compared to Malay essays due to the lack of L2 writing skills. The learners apparently generated more ideas in their native language as well as utilized their L1 cohesive markers into L2 composition via the translation writing process. Nevertheless, the similarities and differences of cohesive markers in Malay and English help teachers to understand learners' organisation of Malay and English essays.
... With regard to the students' perceptions of the writing modes, even though the direct writing mode received more positive feedback, the students reported translation to be helpful for generating ideas and organizing their texts. Further, Ismail and Alsheikh (2012) and Tavakoli et al. (2014) adopted the research design and the instruments from Cohen and Brooks-Carson (2001) for their investigations of direct versus translated writing. Together, the analysis in these two studies showed that the participants thought that writing in English was faster and that it helped them find English expressions. ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper gives an account of Norwegian upper secondary school students’ self-reported use of linguistic resources while composing a text in English (L2) under three different writing conditions, i.e. English-only, translation, and translanguaging. After writing a text in English, 200 students answered a questionnaire about their use of background languages as well as their perceptions of the assigned writing condition. A combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches to the analysis of the questionnaire data was employed to capture how the students use their background languages and what they consider to be relative advantages and disadvantages of the assigned writing condition. The results indicate: (i) a strong presence of English as a metacognitive language of choice in all three writing conditions, (ii) students’ strategic use of L1 to generate ideas and structure information, and (iii) students’ willingness to experiment with languages to enhance certain aspects of their writing. By integrating translation and translanguaging into the drafting stage of writing in a target language, the present study contributes to the empirical research that embraces bi- and multilingual approach to English writing instruction in modern language classrooms as they become more linguistically and culturally diverse.
... Kobayashi and Rinnert (2008) concluded from an experiment among 28 Japanese university students that integrating L1 writing skills in foreign language writing instruction has a positive effect on the written product, as opposed to using an instructional approach that only focuses on the foreign language. Sadiq and Negmeldin (2012), however, found in their research that this transfer can be potentially impacted by the learner's proficiency level in the foreign language. This means that a lower proficiency level will absorb a learner's capacity to pay attention to linguistic accuracy and will leave no room for the potentially positive influence of learned writing skills in the L1. ...
Article
A reading-to-write task is a complex cognitive activity. The aim of this study is to gain insight into the difficulties that advanced learners of Spanish as a foreign language for professional communication purposes experience when they have to perform a reading-to-write task. This insight will help to improve writing instruction and training for this particular type of students. In this study, 19 students of a one-year master’s programme in multilingual professional communication (level B2–C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages , Council of Europe, 2001 ) were asked to carry out a reading-to-write task in Dutch, their mother tongue, and in Spanish at the beginning of the academic year. This task was repeated at the end of the academic year. On both occasions, the task was writing an informative synthesis of approximately 200–250 words using three digital source texts in Dutch and in Spanish pertaining to different text genres (i.e., a report from the European Union, a website, a newspaper article). The three source texts varied in lexical and syntactical complexity, content, style and discursive characteristics. All written products were evaluated by two independent raters. We found no general improvement in the reading-to-write task between the two moments, neither in the L1 nor in the L2. We did not find an improvement at sentence, text, or discourse level either. We will explore several explanations for this lack of improvement, based on theoretical models of foreign language acquisition and recent empirical writing research.
... Így Graves (1983( , idézi Laksmi, 2006, p. 146.) javaslata szerint az új, folyamatra összpontosító módszertan meg kell, hogy különböztessen olyan fázisokat, mint a tervezés, vázlatkészítés, átdolgozás, szer - kesztés és a végső változat beadásának a szakasza. Tompkins (1994, idézi Faraj, 2015 (Lan, 2011;Ismail & Alsheikh, 2012;Lahuerta, 2017). A mostanihoz hasonló kutatást végzet Khaldieh (2000), aki azt vizsgálta, hogy a tanulási straté- giák milyen összefüggésben állnak a szövegalkotási folyamatal kezdő és haladó arab nyelvtanulók körében. ...
Book
This volume offers fresh perspectives on a controversial issue in applied linguistics and language teaching by focusing on the use of the first language in communicative or immersion-type classrooms. It includes new work by both new and established scholars in educational scholarship, second language acquisition, and sociolinguistics, as well as in a variety of languages, countries, and educational contexts. Through its focus at the intersection of theory, practice, curriculum and policy, the book demands a reconceptualization of code-switching as something that both proficient and aspiring bilinguals do naturally, and as a practice that is inherently linked with bilingual code-switching.
Article
The aim of this study is to investigate the use of generating strategies in first (L1) and second language (L2) writing of eight skilled bilingual writers (English/Spanish). The study was guided by the following research questions: What writing strategies are used in facilitating generating by skilled bilingual writers in their first and second languages, and are there differences between the strategies they use in their first and second language? Data were collected through think-aloud protocols. The results of this study confirm the view that skilled bilingual writers use similar writing strategies in L1 as in L2, when using within-subject comparison. © 2007 by Elsevier Ltd. All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
Article
Language teachers have been debating whether or not to use the students' first language (L1) in second language (L2) teaching. Some teachers have the opinion that first language may be used under certain limitations and others feel that it should not be allowed at all. Nevertheless, the use of first language in second language teaching has been advocated with grounded theory for as far as it merits the situation. The aim of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of the use of first language to generate ideas for second language writing among low proficiency ESL learners. This study employed the experimental research design where the students in the experimental group used Bahasa Melayu in generating ideas before they resumed writing their essays in English. On the other hand, the students in the control group used English. The essays are graded by two independent raters and the scores are analysed using the paired t-test. The findings show a marked improvement in the writing performance of students who used their first language to generate ideas before writing using their second language. Based on the findings of this study a recommendation could be made to the writing teachers to use the students' first language especially in generating ideas among low level proficiency ESL learners.
Article
This study investigated whether Saudi EFL students' writing competence was related to their Arabic writing proficiency. The study also examined the possible relationship between Saudi students' first language (Arabic) and second language (English) writing competence and their self-regulatory abilities. Participants included 35 college-level students majoring in English at Umm Al-Qura University. The participants wrote English and Arabic argumentative essays on the same topic during two separate sessions. In addition, participants filled out the Metacognitive Awareness Inventory (Schraw & Dennison, 1994) to provide information about their self-regulation abilities. The writing tasks were scored by a group of EFL university teachers using the ESL Composition Profile (Jacobs et al., 1981). The collected data were used to compare and contrast the participants' writing competence in Arabic and English. The data were also used to test the correlation between students' self-regulation abilities (their knowledge of cognition and regulation of cognition) and their overall writing competence in both languages. Data analysis revealed a strong correlation between participants' L1 (Arabic) writing proficiency and their L2 (English) writing competence. The study also revealed that Saudi students who scored high in L1/L2 writing had high self-regulation abilities.