Friday Speaker Series: Miyuki Sasaki, Nagoya City University
Friday, September 8 at 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Poulton Hall, 230 1421 37th St., N.W., Washington
This study reports how L2 writing ability developed while interacting with L1 writing ability and L2 proficiency. Although recent studies have investigated relationships between these three variables, few have been longitudinal. Responding to recent claims that individual development may not be represented by sampled populations, this study followed individual changes in the English writing ability of Japanese students over four years while exploring possible patterns they may share with their peers. To this end, the study applied k-means clustering to changes in the relationship between each student’s L2 (English) and L1 (Japanese) writing abilities and L2 proficiency over time. This innovative use of cluster analysis for longitudinal data is particularly useful for probing patterns in chronological relational changes in interactions between mutually influential variables as opposed to its conventional application to synchronic relations between them. The participants were 22 Japanese students with low- to mid-intermediate L2 proficiency. They were observed yearly during their entire university life. Data included their scores on standardized L2 proficiency tests, L1 and L2 compositions rated by two independent writing specialists, and in-depth interviews about their beliefs about L1 and L2 writing. The interview data were used to complement the quantitative analyses. Results reveal that over four years: (1) the lack of L1 and L2 writing instruction in high school made L2 writing instruction in university especially effective in improving the participants’ L1 and L2 writing ability; (2) study-abroad experiences helped them improve and maintain their L2 writing ability and made them see L1 and L2 writing as largely similar; and (3) both internal and external factors such as personal goals and job-hunting affected some participants in a complex and unique manner, suggesting that L2 writers grow with both regularity and randomness while responding to the given environments.
Bio: Miyuki Sasaki is Professor at Nagoya City University’s Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, where she teaches courses in teacher education and applied linguistics. She received two MAs in TESL from Hiroshima University and Georgetown University, and her PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her dissertation under the direction of Lyle Bachman resulted in her acclaimed 1996 book with Peter Lang titled Second language proficiency, foreign language aptitude, and intelligence: Quantitative and qualitative analyses. She has published extensively in the two subfields of language assessment and second language writing, and her work has appeared in journals such as Journal of Pragmatics, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Learning, Language Testing, Modern Language Journal, TESOL Quarterly, and Word. She has also contributed numerous chapters to books published by Multilingual Matters, Kluwer Academic, and Blackwell. From 2007 to 2011, she served on the TOEFL Committee of Examiners (Educational Testing Service) as its first Japanese member. She also served on the editorial board of TESOL Quarterly (2002–2005), and currently serves on the editorial boards of Language Testing and Journal of Second Language Writing. Professor Sasaki is the recipient of a prestigious Abe Fellowship, which she chose to spend at Georgetown University for the 2016-2017 academic year. Here she has continued to investigate her main topics of interest, including the longitudinal development of second-language writing ability, the effects of the values and belief systems of raters on their ratings of first-language Japanese and second-language English compositions, and the effects of the sociocultural factors on the motivation of L2 writers.
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