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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Development of Speaking/ Writing Variability in Narratives of Non-Native English Speakers

  • Author(s): Haynes, Laurie Ann
  • et al.

This study investigates target language variability between speaking and writing in the second language acquisition of non-native English speakers. Spoken and written narratives from three groups of non-native English speakers, representing three levels of English proficiency, are analyzed and compared to the spoken and written narratives of native English speakers. Eleven linguistic features, representing three dimensions of the oral/literate continuum, are examined with the multi-feature/multi-dimensional approach developed by Biber (1986). Results indicate that as narrators advance in English proficiency, they develop more abstract content and more reported style in both speech and writing. Conversely, both speech and writing become more interactive as speakers develop in English proficiency. Results indicating variability between spoken and written narratives show that non-native speakers develop systematically toward native English variability between speaking and writing.

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