Writing in Swedish as a First Language (L1) and English as a Foreign Language (FL): A Topic-Related Functional Perspective

University essay from Lunds universitet/Allmän språkvetenskap

Abstract: This presentation reports on a study of the writing behaviour of some (n=21) Swedish speaking 14-15-year olds when composing in Swedish, their first language, and in English as a foreign language. The approach taken in this study is a psycholinguistic/cognitive one using the key-stroke logging tool, ScriptLog (Strömqvist & Karlsson, 2002; Strömqvist & Malmsten, 1998, see www.scriptlog.net for a demonstration of its use). There are also in-depth studies of two of the subjects writing in L1 and FL. The tools used for this part of the study are the qualitative analysis tools called ?framing devices? and ?potential completion points?, (Spelman Miller, K., 2006). These tools have been used to examine the writing of the two subjects from the point of view of the emerging text and, in so doing, possibly gain a greater understanding of the association between the textual structure of output and the underlying cognitive processes. The focus of the study of framing devices is on topic introduction and continuation. The questions addressed in this study concern the differences/similarities between L1 and FL with regard to the writing process, the existence (or not) of individual profiles and, whether or not such individual profiles remain consistent in FL writing. Other areas of focus have been the differences between the final edited L1 texts, on the one hand, and the final edited FL texts on the other hand, and whether or not the qualitative analysis tools used in the case studies enable us to gain an understanding of individual writing profiles and their consistency (or lack thereof) when writing in English as a foreign language. The quantitative results are borne out by the results of previous studies. The qualitative results can by no means be generalized since they are based on the writing of merely two of the participants. However, they nonetheless provide us with increased insight and a slightly greater understanding of the ways in which writers might manage topic continuity and coherence in L1 and FL respectively.

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