Self-reported problems of L1 and L2 college writers: what can writing instructors do?
Understanding self-reported problems of L1 and L2 writers regarding the writing process holds important pedagogical implications for instructors to address their students’ specific writing needs. L2 writers were usually reported to have more difficulty setting goals and generating material, and to produce less accurate and effective texts (Leki, 1992; Silva 1993, 1997). This paper compares the self-reported writing difficulties of two groups: L1 (N=19) and L2 (N=19) freshman composition students from an American university. To analyze the group differences, a questionnaire (using 5-point Likert scale) about the perceptions of writing difficulties and approaches to writing process was used. Findings from the descriptive statistical analysis suggest that despite self-reported common problems, such as keeping clarity by using appropriate syntax, the L1 and L2 students presented different views on the importance of visuals in a text. While L1s find visuals to be least important for the reader to understand the text, L2s find visuals to be most important. The results reveal that although instructors focus on teaching essay organization, both L1 and L2 students need more instruction on creating better sentence structures. Encouraging L2 students to use visuals (pictures and graphs) in their persuasive essays would prove beneficial for them to overcome writing problems in English.
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