UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

L1 use in the L2 composition process : an empirical study of Philippine ESL writers Bayless, Catherine


Researchers are increasingly using L1/L2 think-aloud studies to examine the well-established phenomenon of ESL writers utilizing their L1 in L2 composition. However, limited investigation has been conducted on how simultaneous bilinguals engage in L1 use for L2 composition, particularly native Tagalog speakers. The Philippines education system mandates English as the mode of instruction from elementary to university education, with American textbooks as the standard throughout institutions. Therefore, it is not uncommon for well-educated students to identify English as a “second mother tongue.” To address the lack of Tagalog L1/L2 studies, this L1/L2 think-aloud study examines sixteen native Tagalog speakers: eight university students in the Philippines and eight international students in Canada. The sixteen students were asked to compose four writing samples under a think-aloud protocol. The findings suggest that L1 use is minimal, with only two participants briefly using their L1 to generate ideas when writing L2 texts. The remaining participants strictly adhered to L2 writing and thinking. Many considered English as their dominant language, especially in writing. Participants have entrenched monolingual writing as a result of the requirement of English use by the Philippines’ education system in written assignments and the use of English as the language of instruction. Language ideology and the Philippines’ longstanding cultural admiration of Standard American English and Western influences noticeably affected the results. The debriefing interviews revealed that three additional students reported L1 use for L2 composition. This was not reflected in their think-aloud protocols, because their L1 usage is reserved for translation of advanced writing prompts, such as research papers. However, some participants openly discussed how they modified their participation for the study because the study was carried out by a Canadian university, with Standard American English used as the researcher’s language to conduct the case study. Overall, they felt pressured to conform to Standard American English due to these Western influences. The results of this study suggest that language ideology is a major consideration for Tagalog speakers L1/L2 composition in addition to (or beyond) simultaneous bilingual engagement in L1 use in L2 composition.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International