L1 and L2 writing fluency


Comparison of L1 and L2 writing fluency on the basis of screencast videos and keystroke log files

This project examines the writing process, i.e. whatever happens in-between the beginning and the end of the activity leading to the production of a written text. To have access to this process, use is made of screencasting and keylogging data, which record the screen and keyboard activity while the subject is typing a text and show what stages the text goes through. The project relies on the tools and methods of corpus linguistics to investigate large quantities of data, taken from the Process Corpus of English in Education (PROCEED). The subjects are French-speaking university students learning English as a foreign language. A comparison is drawn between these students’ writing process in their native language (L1; French) and their corresponding writing process in the foreign language (L2; English), with a focus on fluency, i.e. how smooth their writing process is. The study of writing fluency relies on the examination of fluency indicators mentioned in the literature (e.g. frequency and duration of pauses, number and types of revisions, P-bursts/R-bursts) or developed on the basis of the corpus data in a bottom-up fashion. The analysis of these indicators makes it possible to establish fluency profiles characterising a certain writing behaviour.

The project has a descriptive goal of highlighting the similarities and differences between L1 and L2 writing fluency profiles, as well as distinguishing the aspects of L2 writing fluency that are the result of general and language-independent skills from those that are caused by the difficulty of writing in a non-native language. The project also pursues a more theoretical objective by considering fluency as a means of providing insights into the mental processes underlying the writing event; such insights then make it possible to develop writing process models representing native and non-native novice writing, and showing how L1 and L2 writing abilities interact with each other. Finally, the project has a pedagogical goal, in that it seeks to exploit the L2 writing process data in order to develop and test process feedback sessions with the aim of improving L2 learners’ writing fluency.

This project is funded by the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS).

Project director: Gaëtanelle Gilquin
PhD candidate: Valérie d’Herbais de Thun