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What Unskilled ESL Students Do as They Write: A Classroom Study of Composing

Ann Raimes
TESOL Quarterly
Vol. 19, No. 2 (Jun., 1985), pp. 229-258
DOI: 10.2307/3586828
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3586828
Page Count: 30
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What Unskilled ESL Students Do as They Write: A Classroom Study of Composing
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Abstract

Research on composing by native speakers of English has shown that the processes used by skilled writers can be described and taught in the classroom. Researchers have also examined the composing behaviors of unskilled writers to determine common features and to make recommendations for classroom teaching. While ESL composition research has pointed out the similarities between the processes of experienced L1 and L2 writers, less attention has been directed to unskilled L2 writers and how their composing processes differ from those of unskilled L1 writers. This article attempts to begin to fill that gap. It first examines, from a theoretical perspective, what we know about composing in a first and second language and what we need to know. It then describes a study in which unskilled ESL writers in a "developmental" college writing course wrote an essay in class. The findings from this study are then compared to those of some major studies of the composing process, and conclusions are drawn about the specific needs of unskilled ESL student writers.

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