Apples

Multilingual Students´ Self-reported Use of their Language Repertoires when Writing in English

Authors:
Tina Gunnarsson, Alex Housen, Joost van de Weijer, Marie Källkvist

Keywords:
translanguaging, L2 writing, L3 writing, Bilingual, Multilingual

Abstract:

Recent research suggests that multilingual students tend to use their complete language repertoires, particularly their L1, when writing in a non-native language (e.g. Cenoz & Gorter 2011; Wang 2003). While there is some international research on the L2 and L3 writing process among bilinguals, the L2/L3 writing process of bilingual and multilingual individuals in the Swedish context remains unexplored (Tholin 2012). This study, carried out in a Swedish secondary school, focuses on 131 bi- and multilingual students’ (age 15-16) self-reported languages of thought while writing an essay in English, which is a non-native language. Drawing on the translanguaging framework (Blackledge & Creese 2010; García 2009) and a model of the L2 writing process (Wang & Wen 2002), the questionnaire data of the present study reveal that the participants’ L1 is reported to be heavily activated during the L2 writing process, particularly at the prewriting, planning stage. Additionally, the emergent bilingual participants who grew up as monolinguals (L1 Swedish) report a greater tendency to transition to thinking in the target language (English, their L2) once they have reached the actual writing stage than some of the emergent trilingual participants who grew up as bilinguals (of Swedish and another L1, used primarily in the home). On the basis of these findings, we suggest a need to move away from the monolingual teaching practices common in Swedish schools, allowing space for students to translanguage as they are engaging with writing tasks in a non-native language.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies