Textual Borrowing in Second-Language Writing:
This study examines how first language and the type of writing task affect undergraduates’ word usage from source readings in their English writing. Of 87 participating university undergraduates, 39 were native English speakers from a 1st-year writing course in a North American university, whereas 48 were 3rd-year Chinese students learning English as a second language in a university in China. Using two preselected source texts, half of the students in each group completed a summary task; the other half completed an opinion task. Students’ drafts and the source texts were compared to identify exact or near verbatim retention of strings of words from sources with or without acknowledgement. A two-way ANOVA indicated that both task and first language had an effect on the amount of words borrowed. The study found that students who did the summary task borrowed more words than those who wrote the opinion essays, and Chinese students used source texts mostly without citing references for either task.