A study of the L1 and L2 writing processes and strategies of Arab learners with special reference to third-year Libyan university students
A number of studies have attempted to examine the writing processes of skilled and non-skilled native and non-native speakers of English. However, few studies have examined the writing processes of Arab university students, and none has been conducted on Libyan students' writing processes. This study examines the writing processes in L1 (Arabic) and L2 (English) of twelve Third-Year Libyan University Students (TYLUS), as they verbalised and produced written texts in both languages. The study investigates the process and product data separately to see if any relationship exists between an individual subject's process skill and product quality in either language. Observation, think-aloud protocols, interviews, questionnaires, and written products have been utilised to gather data in a triangulated case study. The composing sessions were audio-taped; the tapes were then transcribed, translated, and coded for analysis, along with the drafts and the final written compositions. The investigation into Ll and L2 writing processes was guided by one main and three sub-research questions. The main research question was: what writing processes do Libyan University students use while writing in Ll Arabic and in L2 English? Do they follow similar or different strategies? The first sub-research question was: how is the linguistic knowledge of the students reflected in Ll and L2 writing? The second was: does the Arabic rhetorical pattern affect the students' English writing? And lastly, how does instruction influence the writing processes and products of these students? The L1 and L2 protocol data yielded a number of interesting findings. Most subjects had a purpose in mind while composing their texts, but had little concern for audience. Individually, each subject displayed a unitary composing style across languages, tending to compose in the Ll and L2 similarly, with some variations in specific aspects. , As a group, the subjects' writing process differences were manifested in planning, time and content; writing time was shorter in L1 than in L2; reviewing in L1 focused on organisation and content, but on form, grammar and vocabulary in L2. Similarities were apparent in mental planning and reliance on internal resources as the subjects alternated between writing, repeating, and rehearsing. The L2 compositions gradually emerged with repetitions, pauses, and the use of L1, and seemed to be constrained by the subjects' linguistic knowledge and imperfect mastery of L2. This suggests that the composing knowledge and skills of Ll could potentially be transferred into L2 composing, and the subjects had employed many similar strategies deemed necessary for writing in both languages but were unable to apply accurately them in L2. In addition, the subjects used Ll to facilitate their composing in L2. They tended to comment and repeat portions of texts in words, rehearse in phrases, and engage in other composing activities at sentence level. Translated segments occurred at almost every level but mainly at phrase level. Finally, and interestingly, some subjects made more errors in L1 than in L2. A tentative composing process model showing the locations in which LI was used during the writing process is proposed. Implications for EFL, particularly. for Libyan University students, and suggestions for further research are also provided.