A comparison of learners' beliefs about writing in their first and second language : Taiwanese junior college business-major students studying English

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Wu, Shu-jung Ruth

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English writing programs in Taiwanese colleges have bloomed because of the increasing need to write proficiently in English. However, EFL writing instruction has paid little attention to business-major students’ needs or how learners’ beliefs influence their writing processes. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate Taiwanese college business-major students’ writing beliefs regarding their L1 (Chinese) and FL (English), and the relationship between their writing beliefs and writing strategy use. 198 Taiwanese junior college business-major students responded to two survey instruments: the Inventory for Beliefs about Chinese Writing (IBCW) and the Inventory for Beliefs about English Writing (IBEW), which examined students’ perceptions about Chinese writing and English writing. Analysis of the questionnaires involved descriptive statistics, factor analysis, and crosstabulations. To explore how learners’ writing beliefs affected their writing processes, nine students with different writing beliefs were selected. They were first interviewed to record their writing beliefs, and then observed and interviewed as they wrote their assignment in each language. Collections of their documents were further compiled to increase triangulation. Analysis of naturalistic inquiries included coping techniques and diagrams of their writing processes. There were four major findings. First, the participants endorsed four beliefs about Chinese writing and held six beliefs about English writing. Most participants seemed to share similar beliefs regarding the meaning of writing, their satisfaction with the writing course, the difficulty of writing, and the effectiveness of different writing strategies. However, Chinese writing was believed to be different from English writing, and translating and using a dictionary in English writing were considered effective strategies because students saw English writing as translation. Second, little difference was found between their beliefs regarding Chinese and English writing. Third, the nine interview participants’ beliefs about writing in the two languages greatly influenced their choice of their writing processes/strategies. Interestingly, not all writing beliefs influenced participants’ writing processes, and the influence could be maximized if their beliefs were consistent, or be changed if one particular belief outweighed or conflicted with others. Fourth, other factors such as individual differences were found to influence their writing processes and choice of writing strategies.



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