The Integration of Lexical, Syntactic, and Discourse Features in Bilingual Adolescents' Writing: An Exploratory Approach Purpose The purpose of this study was to assess the bilingual writing of adolescent English language learners (ELLs) using quantitative tools. Linguistic measures were applied to the participants' writing at the lexical, syntactic, and discourse levels, with the goal of comparing outcomes at each of these levels across languages (Spanish/English) ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2011
The Integration of Lexical, Syntactic, and Discourse Features in Bilingual Adolescents' Writing: An Exploratory Approach
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Robin L. Danzak
    University of South Florida Sarasota–Manatee
  • Correspondence to Robin L. Danzak: rdanzak@sar.usf.edu
  • Editor: Marilyn Nippold
    Editor: Marilyn Nippold×
  • Associate Editor: Martin Fujiki
    Associate Editor: Martin Fujiki×
Article Information
Development / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2011
The Integration of Lexical, Syntactic, and Discourse Features in Bilingual Adolescents' Writing: An Exploratory Approach
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, October 2011, Vol. 42, 491-505. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2011/10-0063)
History: Received July 19, 2010 , Revised November 21, 2010 , Accepted May 30, 2011
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, October 2011, Vol. 42, 491-505. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2011/10-0063)
History: Received July 19, 2010; Revised November 21, 2010; Accepted May 30, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 9

Purpose The purpose of this study was to assess the bilingual writing of adolescent English language learners (ELLs) using quantitative tools. Linguistic measures were applied to the participants' writing at the lexical, syntactic, and discourse levels, with the goal of comparing outcomes at each of these levels across languages (Spanish/English) and genres (expository/narrative).

Method Twenty Spanish-speaking ELLs, ages 11–14 years, each produced 8 expository and narrative autobiographical texts. Texts were coded and scored for lexical sophistication, syntactic complexity, and overall text quality. Scores were analyzed using Friedman’s 2-way analysis of variance by ranks (Siegel & Castellan, 1988); resulting ranks were compared across languages and genre topics.

Results The text topic impacted rank differences at all levels. Performance at the three levels was similar across languages, indicating that participants were emerging writers in both Spanish and English. The impact of genre was generally inconsequential at all levels.

Conclusion Similar results across languages implied the potential transfer of writing skills. Overall, students appeared to apply a knowledge-telling strategy to writing rather than strategically planning, composing, and revising their writing. Finally, outcomes highlighted the synergistic relationships among linguistic levels in text composition, indicating a need to address the interaction of vocabulary, morphosyntax, and text-level structures in the instruction and assessment of ELL writing.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Findings reported here resulted from a dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, University of South Florida. Segments of this research were presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Philadelphia, PA, March 2010; and the World Congress of the International Reading Association, San José, Costa Rica, July 2008.
The author is grateful to Cindi Garrett for her assistance with coding and scoring the writing samples. Much appreciation to Elaine R. Silliman and Ruth H. Bahr for their editorial comments on the manuscript.
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