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A Dynamic Research into L1 Influence on L2 Writing

Guo Chunjie Liu Fang  
This paper offers a cognitive framework for explaining L1 influence on L2 learner's thinking operations during L2 production L1 influence on L2 production, especially on L2 writing, has drawn considerable attention of generations of linguists It is noted that previous studies on L1 effect over L2 production tended to analyze the outcome of a linguistic act in real time which is static so far as the behavior is concerned It is still a mystery what, if any, influence L1 is likely to exert on the linguistic information processing during the linguistic act That is to say, the psychological respect, especially the cognitive processing of L1 effect on L2 production has been hardly studied The present research attempts to find out the general systematicity behind the instantiations of the learners' thinking operations in L2 production with respect to L1 influence In the study, Think Aloud (TA) was employed to detect what is going on in the mind without significant interference from outside In order to obtain valid TA data, the subjects in this study were strictly selected from different grades which represent different proficiencies in English (L2), and technically trained before the testing The data used was collected from the Think Aloud protocols Based on the data gathered from 12 key informants who were selected through strict testing from among 50 candidates, two models of information processing operations are developed to generalize the universal patterns of L1 influence on the L2 learners' cognitive processing in L2 production One model is the macro construction of the L2 production It refers to the main sequence of thinking operations of L2 composition on the level of discourse planning The other is micro construction of the L2 production In this study, it is a sentence level information processing model The formulation of the theoretical framework of this research focuses on the identification of the two cognitive processing models In discussion of the two cognitive processing models, it is pointed that there are some crucial albeit covert, aspects of L1 effect on L2 production, which remain unexposed up to date by the existing language transfer theory These aspects are L1's service as intermediary language in logic (meaning) reasoning processing, in the formal monitoring in target language output, and in mutual retrieval of the world conception and the target language The three functions L1 plays on L2 production find no place in the existing transfer theory In conclusion, this study points out that: (1) L1 influence plays a more significant role in L2 production than traditionally supposed; and (2) L1 influence on L2 production is largely covert; it lies in the high level cognitive operations in language production The present study has limitations The subjects in this research are found at very local levels, and do not conform to the criteria of random sampling The Think Aloud way of data collection has a serious problem: Can language completely reflect cognitive processes? There is consensus that language follows a linear development, but do the operations of cognitive mechanisms which produce the language follow the same suit? Thus the instrumental bias that implicitly governs the source data of this study, no matter how appropriate that bias is, must also be recognized as a potentially limiting factor for the formation of the theoretical framework of this research
【CateGory Index】: H311
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