Effects of rhetorical text analysis on idea generation and text quality
Producing a meaningful written discourse in a foreign language requires a high cognitive effort of EFL learners. They face challenges caused by L2 word or grammar-related difficulties, and also by the L2 genre and genre conventions that may be quite different from what they experienced in their L1. The present study focusses on the support offered to Vietnamese L2 writers to overcome these hindrances. An intensive four-week writing intervention was designed and tested to examine whether encouraging genre awareness via a short session of sample text analysis could empower students to conduct effective brainstorming for argumentative writing. In a pre-test post-test control group design with switching replications, with 66 EFL intermediate undergraduate participants, the study obtained four indicators of L2 argumentative writing quality: idea generation, productivity, global text quality and self-efficacy. The results showed that participants integrated the sample text analysis into the idea generation stage. They created significantly longer self-expressive free writing texts, perceived the generated ideas as more useful, and used more of these ideas in their argumentative texts composition, compared to students from the control condition (with teacher instruction only). No treatment effects were found for productivity, global quality of final text, and self-efficacy. Students in both control and treatment conditions generally showed a significant improvement on these variables.