Date of Award

7-7-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

David I. Hanauer, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Gian S. Pagnucci, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Gloria G. Park, Ph.D.

Abstract

The present language attitude study documents the perception of L2 writing on the part of a group of L1 students taking composition at an American university and it inquires into the impact that learning about linguistic diversity could have on these attitudes. The participants were 202 college students divided into the experimental and the control group. The experimental group participated in a two-week intervention during which they discussed linguistic diversity and became familiar with L2 writing. The data collection consisted of pre and post-survey completed by both the experimental and the control group, pre- and post-interviews conducted with 12 volunteers from the control group, and essays written by 43 experimental group participants. The data collected revealed the presence of an unconscious bias toward L2 writing as the participants rated L1 writing significantly higher than L2 texts when they completed the survey. The interviews and the essays provided insight into what informed this bias, such as the influence of the standard language ideology or tense past encounters with L2 users. At the same time, the post-intervention data confirmed that educating students about linguistic diversity and L2 Englishes could lead to tolerance as the experimental group provided significantly higher scores when they rated L2 writing in comparison with the ratings of the control group. The results of the present study suggest that the composition course could play a key role in eradicating any bias the students might have for the Englishes themselves and others used, thus promoting linguistic tolerance. Acknowledging the international development of their language could also prompt their transformation into global writers and readers by helping them to develop the strategies needed to read L2 texts and to write for both L1 and L2 audiences.

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