HOW L2 LEGAL WRITERS USE STRATEGIES FOR SCHOLARLY WRITING: A MIXED METHODS STUDY
Bain Butler, Donna Patricia
Oxford, Rebecca L
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This dissertation research fills existing gaps regarding the practices and processes of teaching second language (L2) writers at higher ranges of proficiency in academic domain context. It is a mixed methods, longitudinal, descriptive, classroom-based study. The research purpose was to explore strategic competence as a catalyst for professional proficiency in the scholarly (academic) writing of international Master of Laws (LL.M.) students who need to show analytical thinking and communicative precision in their research papers and law review articles. The theoretical framework views scholarly writing in a second language as developmental learning in two domains, language and law, and as socialized cultural practice. The study showed how scholarly legal writing was both a cognitive and a social-cultural process for participants (N=6) as they shifted from the writer-centered activity of drafting to the reader-centered activity of revising and constructing knowledge. A triangulated, multi-stage design was used to collect the quantitative and qualitative data at recursive stages of writing (that is, pre-writing, drafting, and revising). The instruments developed for collecting the data raised strategy awareness for participants in the study and can be used for teaching. The research contributes to our knowledge of scholarly writing in the professions, helps us understand challenges and strategies for L2 writers in graduate programs, provides a useful way to conduct a mixed-methods writing study, reveals the interface between L2 and L1 academic legal discourse, and offers tested tools for developing professional-level competence in L2 academic writers. The study bridges the L1 research and L2 research literature by exploring how superior language learners used research-based strategies to build on their existing competences for professional-level research writing. This highly contextualized, learner-centered research contributes to several related fields by addressing L2 issues associated with plagiarism, the native-speaker standard, learner self-assessment and self-editing--all of which are issues of cross-cultural literacy. The following six fields are involved in and affected by this study: Applied Linguistics, Content-Based (Legal) English Teaching, English Composition, International (Legal) Education, Teaching English for (Academic and Specific) Legal Purposes, and Professional Development.