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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The acquisition of a written language by E.S.L. children during the kindergarten and grade one years Chow, Mayling


This research investigates the development of writing in children who are learning English as a second language (ESL). Its underlying hypotheses are that: 1) ESL children will learn to write independently when placed in a social and psychological setting that facilitates language learning; and 2) they will use the same strategies and follow the same general patterns of development as those reported for English-speaking children. Current research on emergent literacy provided the theoretical framework for this study. This investigation followed eleven ESL children from the beginning of Kindergarten to the end of Grade One. The children's writing samples were collected daily and were analyzed and classified within Gentry's (1982) stages of writing development. The data were examined for implied strategies, knowledge and understandings. Observational notes on the children when writing revealed characteristics and behaviours found at each level of writing development. The results point to the similarities between how ESL children and English-speaking children learn to write when challenged to discover the English writing system for themselves. The theoretical perspective of writing as a developmental process was evident throughout the study. Additional findings highlighted the significant role of literature in ESL learning and the importance of a learner-centred approach to literacy instruction. The implications of the research findings for ESL methodology is discussed together with an account of the children's development in writing.

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