The Role of L1 Use in L2 Writing Processes by Chinese EFL Students: Six Cases of Non-English Majors

Authors: Li, Hui

Affiliation: Foreign Language School in Linyi Normal University

Abstract: A number of studies have attempted to probe into the second-language (L2) writing processes of EFL students. Studies concerning L1 use in L2 writing processes are relatively few. Studies focusing on Chinese non-English majorsí» L1 use in L2 writing processes are even fewer. The present study was designed to examine six non-English majors in China at different levels of L2 proficiency, to describe their writing processes in terms of their use of first language (L1) as shown in think-aloud protocols. Data were the studentsí» think-aloud protocols, together with retrospective interviews and their composing products. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of these data indicated that the studentsí» L1 use facilitated their L2 writing process. They used L1 in L2 writing process due to restraints of inadequate L2 proficiency, accustomness of L1 thinking and lack of L2 writing practice. Non-English majors with higher scores on composition used more L1 than those with lower scores in terms of the total amount. Considering the six purposes of the studentsí» using L1 identified from the data, the higher proficient students employed more L1 for idea generation and lexical searching, whereas the lower proficient students adopted more L1 for language use and meta-comments. Significant differences did exist between the two proficiency groups with regard to the four purposes of L1 use: idea generation, discourse, lexical searching and meta-comments.

Possible implications of the study findings for second-language writing instruction to non-English majors are finally discussed.

Key words:L1 use; L2 proficiency; think-aloud protocols; L2 writing processes.

Page : 25-28    Vol.3, No. 2, 2008