The study entitled "L1 Use in L2 Writing: A Case of Multilingual Undergraduates in a Basic Writing Course" is a qualitative case study research carried out to find out the purposes for which undergraduate students use their L1s in an L2 Basic Writing course in the US university context, their perceptions regarding the effects of their use of L1s in L2 writing, and the ways they utilize their prior experience of writing academic essays while they are writing similar types of texts in L2. To these ends, the data were collected from the students enrolled in the Basic Writing course in a state university in the Mid-western part of the US. There were eighteen participants with eight different L1 backgrounds. Open-ended questionnaire and further follow-up questions were the tools for the data collection. The data for the study were collected during the 2017 Fall semester. Thus, the data collected in this way were codified using MAXQDA and analyzed and interpreted based on the recurring themes.

The analysis of the data shows that multilingual writers make use of their L1s for generating ideas, reducing cognitive load, finding target language words, finding the information required to write essays and backtranslating. Regarding whether it is beneficial to use their L1s, they believe that it can be both facilitating such as easy to think and debilitating such as fear of making mistakes. Similarly, when it comes to the case of the use of prior knowledge, they mainly use their prior experience of writing for structuring their essays. Based on the findings, pedagogical implications have been drawn.


Sarah Henderson Lee

Committee Member

Paolo Infante

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)




Arts and Humanities

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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