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Schema Theory and EFL Writing

Author: CunHongBin
Tutor: WenXu
School: Southwest China Normal
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: Schema Theory Second Language Writing Second Language Writing Negative effects Mother tongue Content schemata Articulate New things Universities College English Writing
CLC: H319
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2005
Downloads: 427
Quote: 7
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Abstract


The teaching of writing in the EFL class in China is supposed to be the most difficult course for English learners in colleges and universities. And there is a worrying phenomenon that most students do not have the ability to write a complete and appropriate English paragraph after having learned English for quite a long time. Among the factors leading to the deficiency of EFL writing, the negative aspects of L1 influence on L2 writing has been regarded as one of the most important factors. This thesis is attempting to expound on the application of schema theory in EFL writing courses. In terms of schema theory, it aims at finding out mainly the negative aspects of L1 influence over L2 writing, how L1 influences L2 writing and what the true reason of this negative influence is, and what the possible solutions to the L1 negative transfer are so as to satisfy the pedagogic requirement of improving students’ L2 writing ability.The dissertation is divided into six chapters:Chapter 1 gives a brief introduction to the current situation of EFL writing in China and points out one of the main reasons leading to the deficiency of Chinese students’ L2 writing is L1 negative influence on L2 writing caused by a lack of relevant target language schemata.Chapter 2 is a literature review of both foreign and domestic researches on L2 writing especially those on L1 impact on L2 writing. These studies have made great contributions to the teaching of EFL writing in China, but they lack the guidance of theory in the process of investigation. Therefore, the author will make a new attempt— applying schema theory both in the whole process of investigation and in providing suggestions to eliminate the negative aspects of L1 influence on L2 writing.Chapter 3 introduces the schema theory by discussing its definition, classification and how schemata can be activated and can fail to be activated. A schema is a general knowledge structure made up of slots. It describes how one’s acquired knowledge is retained in his brain and how it formalizes a complete information system in its correlation. While comprehending a new thing, one has to connect it with his prior knowledge and his past experience. There are two types of schemata: linguistic schemata referring to the lexical, syntactic and textual knowledge, and content schemata referring to background knowledge of the world. To decode and encode a text successfully, we need not only to possess relevant schemata but also to have these relevant schemata activated. In this part the necessity and feasibility of applying schema theory to the study of L1 influence on L2 writing are also discussed.Chapter 4 is the report of the study on L1 influence in the English writing of 96 non-English majors in Kunming University of Science & Technology. Their responses to a designed questionnaire are also analyzed. The major results of the study reveal that L1 influences L2 writing mainly from five aspects: (1) linguistic, (2) grammatical, (3) cultural, (4) writing procedure and writing technique, and (5) audience awareness. There is mainly negative transfer of L1 to L2 writing in linguistic, grammatical, cultural, and audience awareness aspects. As to the writing process and writing techniques positive transfer of L1 to L2 writing is found. The results also reveal that the L1 transfer errors in L2 writing are actually caused by L2 learner’s incompetence in constructing and activating the target language expressive schemata and cultural communicative schemata.Under the guidance of schema theory, in Chapter 5, the author discusses implications and suggestions to solve the L1 negative transfer errors in L2 writing. With

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CLC: > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Language teaching
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