Activity theoretical approach to L2 writing: A case study of Korean university students
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This study explored: First, the L2 writing strategies of Korean university students, based on Engeström’s (1999) activity theory. Second, to what extent Korean university students’ L2 writing developmental process matched Haneda’s (2007) activity system-based L2 writing developmental model. Third, the impact of Korean students’ culture on their L2 writing. Fourth, the influence of L2 writing on Korean students’ identity. To collect data for the current study, all participants answered a questionnaire, did interviews, wrote five essays, wrote process logs before/after each of the five writings, did stimulated recall after each writing, did think aloud as they wrote, and wrote one personal narrative after they were finished with their writing assignments. The results indicated that study abroad experience was one of the most important factors that affected L2 writing strategies, L2 writing, L2 rhetoric, and identity negotiation of Korean university students. The findings are as following: First, students who had studied abroad prior to this experiment (Group A) displayed differences in their L2 writing strategy compared with students who did not have study abroad experience (Group B). The differences were exhibited in terms of internet resources, mediated language, writing process, sensitivity to plagiarism, interaction with target readers, self-defined roles, and goals. Second, Korean university students’ three stage L2 writing developmental process was generally/partially consistent with Haneda’s activity system-based three stage L2 writing developmental theory (i.e., group A: all consistent, group B: partially consistent). Third, certain differences were displayed between the L2 writings of groups A and B, as to the frequency of “I” and “we,” usage of high and low-context expressions, and the employment of Chun (deviation). All participants used convergent rhetoric, which is the combination of English rhetoric and Korean rhetoric. Fourth, all participants exhibited negotiation of identity through the frequency of “I” and omission of the subject, as they wrote two essays (same topic) in two different languages (i.e., English and Korean). Also, it was shown that group A participants experienced identity change stronger than group B participants. This is the first study that dealt Korean university students’ L2 writing in full-scale from the perspective of activity theory and culture. The result of this study is expected to have a pedagogical implication that can help all university students around the world who learn English as a second/ foreign language.