ESL students' off-line and on-line texts : differences and similarities /
Kenworthy, Roger C.
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This study was undertaken to investigate any textual differences and similarities within essays written with a word processing program and an e-mail editor by non-native writers. It arose from many contradictions and a paucity of empirical research within the field of second language learning and electronic technology. To further explore these contradictory observations, 3 classes of intermediate level ESL (English as a Second Language) students v^ote 6 essays, alternating between a word processing program and an e-mail editor. Prior to the data collection, students read brief texts and responded to questions that focused upon three formal topics: immigration, economics, and multiculturalism. Data were examined for (a) the differences in the frequency counts of 12 cohesive devices, (b) sentence complexity, which focused upon the occurrences of simple and complex sentences, (c) the number of words within the writings, (d) the method of contextualization preferred by writers, and (e) any variations in the final grades of the students' texts that resulted from holistic rating. Results of analysis indicated that there were no statistically significant differences in the frequency counts of the linguistic features. Sentence complexity did not vary within the off-line and on-line essays. The average number of words found within the off-line essays was approximately 20% greater than within on-line essays. Contextualization methods were not different within word-processed or e-mailed essays. Finally, there was no difference in the quality of the texts when holistically rated.