An investigation of EFL student writing : aspects of process and product
The present study is an exercise in applied linguistics and discourse analysis. It consists of two parts. While the first part is concerned with aspects of process in EFL academic writing settings, the second part is concerned with aspects of product. In investigating the aspects of process, a survey involving questionnaires and interviews was undertaken, the aim of which was to elicit EFL student and tutor perceptions of the process and acquisition of writing. 210 students studying English at two Jordanian universities: the University of Jordan and Yarmouk University, completed a questionnaire with 'closed' and 'open-ended' questions. In addition, 26 professors from the same universities completed another version of the same questionnaire. In investigating the aspects of product in the writing of EFL students, two mini-corpora of 'successful' and 'unsuccessful' texts, written by a volunteering sample of the students who responded to the questionnaire, were analysed. The aim of the analysis was to explore how EFL students choose formal aspects - syntactical and lexical - to make meanings in their texts. Halliday's systemic-functional grammar formed the basis for the different analytical frameworks (Lexical Density, Theme and Contextual Configuration and Text Structure) used in the analysis of the sample texts. The major findings of the present study are summarised as follows: with respect to the first part of the study, the results appear to be equivocal. Both student and tutor participants in the study confirmed that students in EFL academic writing settings are in need of both low-level and global tuition in English to enable them to write better. There was evidence from both parts of the study that both bottom-up: linguistic aspects such as words and grammar, and top-down: rhetorical aspects, such as the organisation and structure of text, content, and purpose are inseparable factors in the writing process.