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Second Language Writing Ability: Towards a Complete Construct Definition

di Gennaro, Kristen

In this paper, I explore the construct of second language (L2) writing ability within the context of large-scale writing assessment. As L2 writing theory is based in part on the previously established field of first language (L1) writing, I provide a brief discussion of seminal contributions from this related field before summarizing and critiquing a few early L2 writing studies. This discussion includes the process-product debate in writing research and identifies the inadequacies of applying L1 process definitions to a construct definition of L2 writing ability. After drawing a distinction between L2 and L1 writing ability, I summarize several empirical studies in L2 writing research, noting how these contribute to our current understanding of the nature of the construct. I conclude by suggesting what remains to be explored in the quest for a more complete construct definition of L2 writing ability. Specifically, I claim that a complete model of L2 writing ability must indicate (a) how L2 writing ability is distinct from other types of L2 knowledge, and (b) how L2 proficiency and writing ability interact.

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Published In
Working Papers in TESOL & Applied Linguistics
Volume
6
Issue
2
Pages
1 - 17
Academic Units
Applied Linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
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