Research has sown that most of the writers use their L 1(first language) when writing in their L2 (second language). When writing the writers have both their L1 and L2 at their disposal, this happens when they composing in their L2. They solely depend on the L1 to manage there process of writing, organizing and the generation of ideas. In the long run they end up using the L2 in their writing process. This is becomes evident that writing goes from L1 to L2 and not from L2 to L2. To qualify this statement Alderson (1984) said that poor writing skills of L2 are brought about by poor L1 writing skills and also limited L2 language proficiency.
There may be a great disadvantage for the writer who is very dependent on the first language or L1. This s especially when they have lower proficiency of the L2 language. It becomes so difficult for them to express ideas for them to sustain the writing process. This may lead to a breakdown in language all together. If L1 is not used we can be sure of very low quality work. So the L1 language is used in keeping the standard of the writing. When the students use L1 in writing L2 the quality of the text in L2 is interfered with. This is because the structures are different. Jones and Tetroe (1987) conducted a study and found out the lower proficiency writers that did not use L1 were ineffective in their planning. Those who used L1 produced quality work with more details.
Uzawa and Cumming (1989) came up with two strategies that can be used to help the other L2 students. These strategies are helpful because they help to sustain process of writing of the subjects that they have low L2 proficiency. One of them was called, “keeping the standard” and the other one was called “lowering the standard”. The one that was called keeping the standard was used in the L2 process of writing to maintain the level of writing that was achieved in L1. They involved activities like revising, seeking assistance and giving the subject more time. The other strategy was used so that the writers could complete a piece of writing within a given time without engaging their brain so much. It involved activities such as simplification of syntax, substitution of lexical items and reducing of information.
Alderson, J. C. (1984). Reading in a foreign language: A reading problem or a language problem? In J. C. Alderson, & A. H. Urquhart, Reading in a foreign language (pp. 1-24). London: Longman.
Jones and Tetroe's study (1987) demonstrated that in writing, L1 interference in planning is effective. This effectiveness is reflected through exposing new thoughts and more details.
Uzawa, K., & Cumming, A. (1989). Writing strategies in Japanese as a foreign language: Lowering or keeping up the standards. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 46, 178-194.