Language-Switching in L2 Composition among ESL and EFL Undergraduate Writers

July 2013
Volume 7 Issue 1

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Title
Language-Switching in L2 Composition among ESL and EFL Undergraduate Writers

Veeramuthu Veerappan, Dahlia Syahrani Md. Yusof, &Afizal Md. Aris
Institute of International Languages,
Malaysia

Bioprofiles: VEERAMUTHU VEERAPPAN is a lecturer at Institute of International Languages (ILMU) in Multimedia University, Malaysia He has experience teaching English for 13 years for both local and International students. He is currently a PhD candidate with University Putra Malaysia and his research interest is in ESL writing and ESP. He can be reached at veeramuthu@mmu.edu.my

DAHLIA SYAHRANI MD. YUSOF is currently an English Lecturer at Institute of International Languages (ILMU) in Multimedia University, Malaysia. She has a Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL). Her research interests include referencing, academic writing and plagiarism from a multicultural perspective. She can be reached at syahrani.yusof@mmu.edu.my

AFIZAL MOHD ARIS is a lecturer at Institute of International Languages (ILMU) in Multimedia University, Malaysia. He has been teaching English since the year 2000 for both ESL and EFL students. He has been marking MUET for 5 years. His research interest is in ESL writing, testing and evaluation. He can be reached at afizal@mmu.edu.my

Abstract

One of the most common challenges faced by English as Second language (ESL)and English as Foreign Language (EFL) writers in higher education is in composition writing. The researchersobservedthat students from different language backgrounds used different writing strategies when composing in L2, such as using L1 in order to produce a text in L2. This study investigated to what extentLanguage Switching (L-S) occurs, and the effect of its occurrence atvarious cognitive stages among local (ESL) and international (EFL) students.The studyadapted theCognitive Process Model by Flower and Hayes (1981) which introduces the cognitive processes involved while writing a composition. Four subjects were selected based on their rich verbalization to concurrently perform a think aloud protocol (TAP) as they wrote an argumentative essay in English, and to record their cognitive processes as to make explicit what is implicitly present in their mind. The data was transcribed, translated, coded and analyzed atstages such as reading the assignment, planning, translating, reviewing, and monitoring. This research shedslight to the issue onhow writers with differing L2 proficiency L-S while composing in L2. The main result showed writers L2 mental lexicon and capacity to think in L2 is limited especially among EFL learners as compared to ESL writer but L-S assists both ESL and EFL writers and compensate their language and lexical deficiency. Although the L-S among EFL writers in generating ideas, translating and monitoring stages are relatively higher, this hasa positive effect in assisting them to improve the quality of written text. In contrast, ESL writers have minimal L-S to L1 and most L-S happens during translation and in generating ideas, but these writers’ written text is of better quality based on assessment. This implies that the frequency of L-S does not directly determine quality of the final written text of writers.Implications and recommendations for future research are made.

Keywords: language, switching, L2, composition, ESL, EFL, cognitive, think aloud protocol.

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Category: Volume 7 Issue 1 June 2013