L2: Volume 11 Issue 1

Competing Identities, Shifting Investments, and L2 Speaking During Study Abroad

Why learners return from study abroad (SA) with varying degrees of second language (L2) gains or differing attitudes towards the target language and culture remains an open question. This study employs theories of identity (Kinginger, 2013) and investment (Darvin & Norton, 2015; Norton Peirce, 1995) to examine the case of three learners of Spanish as they studied abroad in Spain. Interviews, journals, and language-use surveys were analyzed to understand how and why these learners’ investment in Spanish and in language learning opportunities shifted throughout their program. Pre- and post-SA speaking abilities tests in Spanish were used to measure how participants’ investments related to their L2 speaking development. The three case studies suggest that participants negotiate competing and fluctuating desires, identities, and investments that often lead to contradictory behaviors regarding their language learning and use while abroad. These opposing investments and identities stem from participants’ expectations of an idealized SA experience and their belief in the capital (Bourdieu, 1986) that Spanish may offer them back home and abroad. This study further finds that participants’ ongoing investment in learning and using Spanish relates to their L2 speaking gains post-SA.

Carving out a Dialogic Space for “I”: A Corpus-Based Study of Novice L2 College Writers’ Use of First- Person Pronouns in Argumentative Essays

L2 writers likely perceive “good academic writing” as impersonal (Hyland, 2002; Shen, 1989; Tang & John, 1999). Yet research has shown that every linguistic and rhetorical choice that a writer makes—including, the presence/absence and different forms of self-mention—potentially reveals the writer’s authorial identity (Ivanič, 1998). The dialogic nature of academic writing, as manifested in strategic self-mentions, has remained overshadowed in L2 writing pedagogy by other linguistic issues. This article draws attention to this gap in research: specifically, I report on the findings of a corpus-driven descriptive inquiry into authorial identity, operationalized as the use of first-person pronouns in a corpus of 126 argumentative research papers written by students enrolled in first-year L2 composition courses. The study examines how L2 writers practice self-mention, comparing the frequencies of first-person pronouns in the argumentative corpus with both a “parent” corpus, which contains other genres produced by the same group of writers, and published research analyzed by Hyland (2001). I also define and characterize the five qualitatively coded and quantitatively measured rhetorical functions of “I” used in the corpus (i.e., reporter, architect, narrator of personal experiences, conceder, and opinion-holder). L2 writers in this study were found to use self-mention more frequently than published authors. However, L2 writers employed self-reference less frequently in their argumentative essays than for other genres. Their argumentative texts reproduced a narrative tone, as indicated by the lower ratio of the subjective/objective case of the first-person singular pronoun. A comparison of rhetorical functions reveals that nearly 50% of “I”s in the corpus function as a “narrator of personal experiences.” In light of the findings, I propose pedagogical suggestions aimed at more effectively socializing college-level L2 composition students into academic discourse communities.

Training Foreign Language Learners to be Peer Responders: A Multiliteracies Approach

This study proposes a method for implementing trained peer response within the multiliteracies framework and then qualitatively examines its effectiveness. Three factors are considered: (1) the extent to which peer response training engaged learners in all four knowledge processes; (2) the quality of peer-to-peer feedback; and (3) students’ attitudes about peer response. Findings suggest that collaborative genre analysis moves students through various knowledge processes and equips them to apply literacy-based understandings, knowledge, and skills during peer response. In general, students provided constructive, actionable comments to their peers and reported numerous benefits of both giving and receiving peer feedback. Implications for future research and practice will be of interest to instructors who want to implement peer response as well as curriculum designers who are building literacy-oriented language programs.