The preponderance of writing research to date has been with students writing in their first language or in a second language learned at school. Although there are commonalities between first- and second- language writing, little has been done to document and inform the development of the writing competence in both languages in educational settings where intensive second language programs have been implemented.
Le développement de la compétence à écrire en langue première et en langue seconde à la fin du primaire dans des contextes d'intensification de l'enseignement de la langue seconde
Developing first- and second- language writing in intensive second language programs in primary schools
Principal Investigator: Prof. Olivier Dezutter, Université de Sherbrooke
Co-Investigators: Dr. Cécile Sabatier, Simon Fraser University; Dr. Corinne Haigh, Bishop's University; Dr. Sunny Man Chu Lau, Bishop's University; Dr. Véronique Parent, Université de Sherbrooke; Dr. Lynn Thomas, Université de Sherbrooke
Funding Agency: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council - SSHRC
Because it should not be assumed that the act of writing in one's first language is the same as the act of writing in one's second language, this research project examines how a second language learner who does not cease to be competent in his or her first language develops his or her writing proficiency in both languages and what factors prevail to this development
How This Project is Carried Out
The study takes place in intensive second language programs in Québec, a province where French and English are both languages of instruction and taught as a second language depending on the linguistic community (Anglophone or Francophone) students belong to.
At the intermediate level, students have already approached the complexity of the writing process in their language of instruction. They are learning to write in a second language. Investigating how first- and second-language writing processes interplay in developing and enriching a key competence at school will inform the explorations of how learners become bi-/multilingual (plurilingual) in educational settings.
The qualitative and descriptive study thus examines 1) how the language of instruction and the intensive second-language programs have an impact on students becoming proficient in writing and 2) if teaching practices supported by teachers create opportunities between languages to enhance language learning in general.
The study draws on 1) a standard test (Wechsler Individual Achievement Test Second Edition (WIAT-II; Wechsler, 2005) to assess the academic achievement of students on Writing; 2) interviews with students; and 3) classroom observations. Data are collected in eight Grade 6 classes (4 in Anglophone school districts and 4 in Francophone school districts).
Why This Project Matters
By understanding the writing processes students, enrolled in intensive second language programs, develop throughout a year both in their language of instruction and their second language, the research project aims to provide insights on the 'act of writing' and help teachers determine what aspects of the language of instruction may transfer to second language writing and vice-versa.
The project will also help Teacher Education programs to design courses for pre-service and in service teachers focused on second-language contexts on writing processes.
How This Project is Put into Action
The research project has started in September 2014. The process of collecting data is ongoing.
The first step, currently on going, is the administration of the WIAT-II (in both languages) to a sample of 200 pupils (8 classes). Drawing from these results, 3 groups of students (3x48) will be formed and each student in these groups will be interviewed (154 interviews). Observations will also be conducted in their classrooms during activities related to writing (at least 48 classroom observations). Data will be collected 3 times during their school year : at the beginning of the year, in the middle of it and at its end.