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Second language learners and real- life contexts of writing Katja Mäntylä and Mirja Tarnanen

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Presentation on theme: "Second language learners and real- life contexts of writing Katja Mäntylä and Mirja Tarnanen"— Presentation transcript:

1 Second language learners and real- life contexts of writing Katja Mäntylä and Mirja Tarnanen

2 CEFLING Linguistic Basis of the Common European Framework for L2 English and L2 Finnish  project funded by the Academy of Finland  based at the University of Jyväskylä; part of the European SLATE network (Second Language Acquisition and Testing in Europe)  homepage:

3 Formulaic sequences  problems with the terminology –collocations, phrases, greetings, idioms, etc.  role in language learning (and teaching*)  learner texts have to an extent been studied –Forsberg et al. (2008), Erman (2007) –challenges in looking at texts (Wray 2008) –at lower levels of proficiency, examining just the sequences is not very fruitful  other aspects to be taken into account  how to examine –quality/quantity. Finnish and English very different types of languages (Finnish synthetic with its rich use of inflections) –functions –(L1 effect)

4 Research questions  appearance/development of formulaic sequences from one CEFR level to another  functions of various expressions –informative, situational, organizational, evaluative, modal (Moon 1998)

5 Data In the Cefling -project  7th-9th grade English (FL) and Finnish (L2) learners  893 Finnish as a L2 and English as a FL learners  each learner/subject completed 3-4 writing tasks  the English performances were rated by 4 raters, and Finnish ones by 3 raters (to assure the reliability of ratings)  the performances were rated using a CEFR-scale (a compilation of different writing scales) and a national (curriculum) writing scale based on CEFR In this study  2 task types: a message to the teacher and a message to an Internet store  over 40 texts per language and per tasks  The main focus on the levels A1-B1

6 Task 1 to the teacher  You have not been able to go to school during one week, and you will have an English test soon. Send your teacher, Mary Brown, an in which you  tell why you have been absent,  ask about two details regarding the exam, and  ask about two more details of the classes of the week. Do not forget to begin and finish the appropriately. structured; limitations to the content no instructions as to the register  a challenge to Finns writing in English some instructions as to the structure of the text FUNCTIONS: conveying information, explaining the situation, modality

7 Task 2 to an Internet Store  Your parents have ordered you a computer game from an Internet store, but the software is not working as you wished. Send the store an in which you tell  who you are,  why you are contacting them (mention and describe two problems),  what you would like to be done, and  how you can be contacted. Do not forget to begin and finish the appropriately. structured; limitations to the content the task requires a semi-formal register given advice on the content helps in structuring the text FUNCTIONS: conveying information, explaining the situation, asking questions

8 Analysis  functions of the expressions (according to Moon) –informational, situational, organizational,evaluative, modal  rough figures –the definition of a sequence fairly loose  modality/pragmatic aspect –the use of the conditional/imperative/questions –beginning/ending the message –please  clause structures –the use of conjunctions  cohesion, coherence and fluency greatly affect the grading

9 Results - Rough figures: English WordsClausesInf.Sit.Org.Ev.Mod.Conj. TEISTEISTEISTEISTEISTEISTEISTEIS A A B B

10 Results - Rough figures: Finnish WordsClausesInf.Sit.Org.Ev.Mod. TEISTEISTEISTEISTEISTEISTEIS A A B Results: Me TE=Message to the teacher IS=Message to an Internet store

11 Results – A1 EnglishFinnish Sequences - Organizational thats why sitten ’then’, vielä ’yet’ -beginning and ending of the message usually missing - SituationalPrepositional phrases from Finland, out from school eilen ’yesterday’, kaksi kertaa ’two times’, joskus ’sometimes’ - ModalVery straightforward; imperative I want you send some attempts to be polite : If you can, Can I have Very straightforward Haluan että ’I want that’ Also conditional used but inaccurately Haluasin vaiha ’I would like to change’ CollocationsMostly evaluative Adj/adv work well, good and beautiful toimia huonosti ’does not work’, saada rahat takaisin ’get money back’ Conjunctionsco-ordinators so, and, but – used quite frequently but not idiomatically co-ordinators and some subordinators ja ’and’, koska ’because’

12 A1 Typical of a performance at this level:  texts are short  the task is not completed  a text can be partly illegible and to an extent incoherent BUT it is a text not ”separate words”

13 Results – A2 EnglishFinnish Sequences - Organizational metatext: I want to tell you about, the first reason is more metatext: Ongelma on se, että ’the problem is that’ - Situational last week, in your shopviikon aikana ’during the week’, pari päivää sitten ’a couple of days ago’ - Modal Conditional: I wud like a new better game, I like you to send Imperative + please: anser quigly please. Give me please the homeworks. more appropriate: jos on mahdollista ’if it is possible’, kiitos paljon ’thank you very much’ Collocations more target-like high temperature tulla läksyjä ’get homework’, sammuttaa tietokone ’switch off the computer’ Conjunctions subordinators because, that more frequent siis ’accordingly’, kun ’when’

14 A2 Typical of a performance at this level:  texts are slightly longer and more detailed  the task is almost completed  the text is quite clear BUT it may be impolite but quite well organized or the other way round. Idiomaticity and accuracy may still be very much lacking.

15 Results – B1 EnglishFinnish Sequences - Organizationalmuch more metatext: This is about; the reason is that, first of all, secondly, that’s all more metatext: Minulla on pari kysymystä ’I have a couple of questions’, Haluisin myös tietää ’I would also like to know’ - Situationalthe number of situational expressions increases  adds to the coherence for a week, last Friday viikon päästä ’after a week’, vihdoin ’at last’ - Modalmore variation: Please, answer me soon; I want to ask you some questions, I would be very happy if you could send more accurate use of the conditional: voisitko kertoa ’Could you tell’, moderation: saanko ’can I have’ Collocationsadv+adj combinationsasentaa peli ’install the game’, se (burana) vaikuttaa ’ it (Parasetamol) has an effect’ Conjunctionsthe number increases several clauses in a sentence more variety, the number increases joten ’thus’, joko-tai ’either-or’

16 B1 Typical of a performance at this level:  organizational and situational sequences more frequent  modal expressions much more accurate and polite  sequences get more complex  the task (almost) fully completed

17 Results – B2 English and Finnish: -more complex sequences, in particular organizational and modal ones: If either of those can’t be done, I’d appreciate your help, I’d like you to cover the costs Voisitteko korjata sen tietokonepelin jotenkin tai lähettää uuden? Tai onko mahdollista saada rahaa siitä takaisin? ’Could you fix the game somehow, or send a new one? Or is it possbile to get some money back?’

18 Conclusions  modality more obvious and more accurate at level B1  organizational elements appear across the levels but differences in variation, accuracy and complexity  the effect of the task  different types of languages: strongly inflectional vs. analytic/synthetic language

19 Conclusions – pedagogical challenges  towards more real-life writing (context, reader, register, functions) vs. traditional school writing (separate expressions and sentences, translating sentences and short descriptions)  focusing in teaching and assessing on pragmatic aspects rather than on grammar

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