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First Language versus Foreign Language

Fluency, Errors and Revision Processes in Foreign Language Academic Writing


Esther Odilia Breuer

First Language versus Foreign Language deals with the «battle» that takes place in writers’ heads when writing in a foreign language. Most academics today need to write in another language than in their first language (L1) in order to publish in internationally recognized journals. However, as writing research has shown, writing in a foreign language (FL) presents difficulties. The study compares L1 and FL writing, analysing written texts and the writing processes in terms of fluency, errors and revision. It takes a closer look at the «battle» between the L1 and the FL and offers useful insight. The findings allow a glimpse at the processes that take place in the brain, calling for new didactic approaches to FL writing.
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7 Revisions


7  Revisions

Your eloquence should be the servant of the ideas in your head. Your rule might be this: If a sentence, no matter how excellent, does not illuminate your subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out. (Kurt Vonnegut)

As was shown in Chapters 5 and 6, fluency, productivity and the number as well as the types of errors in the final texts vary distinctly between the simple and the academic texts and between planning and essay writing. In the following, the extent is presented to which the text changes and revisions that were performed by the participants differ in the different conditions. The average number of revisions, the number of characters that were executed without revisions (Chapter 7.1), the types of revisions made (Chapter 7.2), and the types of ‘double revisions’ (Chapter 7.3) are analysed. The kinds of revisions in the different writing processes, that is, in planning, in formulating or in the final revision, are examined in Chapters 7.4–7.6. Finally, which revisions were performed in r-bursts and how these revisions had an effect on fluency is looked at in Chapter 7.7.

It was assumed that, due to the different cognitive demands set by the writing processes and set by the different assignments, the participants would concentrate on different aspects under the different task conditions. It was also assumed that in FL writing, the participants would focus more on linguistic aspects than in L1 writing because the formulating process...

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