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Exploring the interplay of mode of discourse and proficiency level in ESL writing performance

Md. Rashid, Sabariah and Heng, Chan Swee (2007) Exploring the interplay of mode of discourse and proficiency level in ESL writing performance. In: The Second Biennial International Conference on Teaching and Learning of English in Asia : Exploring New Frontiers (TELiA2), 14-16 June 2007, Holiday Villa Beach & Spa Resort, Langkawi. Faculty of Communication and Modern Languages, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok, pp. 1-17. ISBN 978-983-42061-2-3

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Recent theory in discourse and practice in rhetoric has suggested that writers require different skills and strategies when writing for different purposes, and in using different genres and modes (Kinneavy, 1972; Carrell and Connor, 1991) in writing. The importance of taking into account these various aspectual skills and forms of writing is recognised in teaching (e.g. Scarcella and Oxford, 1992), and in the assessment of writing (e.g. Odell and Cooper, 1980). For instance, Odell and Cooper argued that any claims about writing ability cannot be made until students’ performance on a variety of writing tasks has been examined. Thus, the issue of what writing task(s) are to be included in a test is crucial, since a task will be regarded as useless if it does not provide the basis for making generalisations regarding an individual’s writing ability. This paper presents the findings of a study on the effects of mode of discourse on L2 writing performance as well as the interplay between learner variable, namely, proficiency level and task variable, mode of discourse amongst Malaysian upper secondary ESL learners. The findings provide some evidence for the need to re-examine issues of reliability and validity in test practice of manipulating variables in the design of assessment tasks to evaluate ESL writing performance. Given the status and complexity of the writing skill, it stands to reason that studies into this area will continue to shed light onto how best the construct can be understood, taught and tested to give a fair chance for language learners to exhibit their true ability and be reliably reported on.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Organized by Department of Modern Languages, Faculty of Communication and Modern Language, Universiti Utara Malaysia
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
P Language and Literature > PE English
Divisions: College of Arts and Sciences
Depositing User: Mrs. Norazmilah Yaakub
Date Deposited: 30 May 2011 00:16
Last Modified: 30 May 2011 00:16

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