Culture and L2 writing
Student perceptions of factors affecting academic writing
Keywords:L2 Writing, Culture, EAP, Intercultural Rhetoric
Culture in second language (L2) writing has been researched extensively, though mostly under the purview of contrastive rhetoric and focused on text and contrastive genre analysis (Connor, 1996, 2004, 2008; Kaplan, 2005). Research has also focused on problematizing culture in reference to L2 writing (Atkinson, 1999, 2003; Kubota, 1999). These foci indicate reader-instructor rather than student perspectives: how L2 writers themselves perceive cultural impacts on writing. This study undertakes to fill this gap, investigating L2 student perceptions of such impacts. Study participants (n = 36), students in an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) writing course at a Canadian university, took part in semistructured interviews and reflective writing. Data analysis identified six broad categories of cultural factors affecting student writing: (1) organizational structure as a fixed method; (2) supporting and writing arguments; (3) creating a stronger voice in writing; (4) adjusting to a new academic culture; (5) understanding clarity in academic writing in English; and (6) developing content: quality versus quantity. Findings underscore student perceptions of a monolithic, essentialist view of culture in academic writing. This is an important consideration when designing a student-centred L2 writing pedagogy that addresses student needs. Based on the findings, the article further explores implications for L2 writing instruction.
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