Multilingual students’ use of their linguistic repertoires while writing in L2 English
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This article examines six multilingual students’ composing processes and language use while writing in L2 English. Four participants have two L1s: Swedish and either Bosnian (N = 2) or Macedonian (N = 2). The remaining two participants have Swedish as their L1. Building on an L2 composing model (Wang and Wen, 2002) and the theory of Language Mode (Grosjean, 2008), the study uses think-aloud data to examine participants’ use of their language repertoires while writing an essay in L2 English. Think-aloud data revealed that Swedish served as the base language of thought for four of the participants. The other two participants used mainly English and for a greater range of composing activities. Bosnian, a heritage language for two of the participants, was used by one participant for context-specific idea-generation. The results suggest that multilinguals rely on their L1s vis-a-vis the target language for specific purposes when working individually on a complex task such as L2 writing. An elaboration of the Wang and Wen (2002) model revealed that English was used mainly to read the text being produced, whereas Swedish was used to comment on the writing process, to solve problems and to have an inner dialogue.