Change in French Second Language Writing in Study Abroad and Domestic Contexts


  • Minor corrections added on 11 February 2014 after first online publication on 28 January 2014. Due to errors regarding the final version of the manuscript for this article, some small changes have been made to this version of the article.


This descriptive case study examines the writing of eight university learners of French—four during study abroad and four in on-campus courses—over the course of a semester. The study abroad students all improved their ACTFL writing proficiency scores, while the domestic students' writing proficiency levels tended to stay the same or even decreased. But what specific features of students' writing changed over the semester? This study applied fine-grained measures focused on the complexity, accuracy, fluency, and form-function relationships of writing samples collected at the beginning and end of the semester. Results showed that students' writing developed in both study abroad and domestic contexts, although in different ways. Given the complexity of writing development, multiple measures should be used to assess second language writing across learning contexts.