Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Applied Linguistics Review

Editor-in-Chief: Wei, Li

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 1.098
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.871

See all formats and pricing
More options …

Strategy development and cross-linguistic transfer in foreign and first language writing

Karen ForbesORCID iD: http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8981-8236 / Linda Fisher
Published Online: 2018-07-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2018-0008


In an increasingly multilingual world, empirical knowledge about the reciprocal influence between the mother tongue (L1) and a learner’s acquisition of foreign languages (FL) is crucial yet remains surprisingly scarce. This paper examines how an explicit focus on metacognitive strategy use within a FL (German) classroom impacts students’ development of writing strategies in the FL, and whether any such effects transfer to another FL (French) and/or to the L1 (English). Based on a quasi-experimental design, the study involved a two-phase intervention of strategy-based instruction primarily in the FL classroom and later also in the English classroom in a secondary school in England. Data were collected using writing strategy task sheets. Key findings indicate high levels of cross-linguistic transfer, both from one FL context to another and from FL – L1, evidenced especially by an improvement in the quality of students’ planning and a reduction in the number of errors. Findings support the development of a multilingual, strategy-based pedagogy for writing where L1 and FL teachers collaborate to encourage and facilitate connection-making across language contexts.

Keywords: language learning strategies; writing; cross-linguistic transfer


  • Ardasheva, Yuliya, Zhe Wang, Olusola O. Adesope & Jeffrey C. Valentine. 2017. Exploring effectiveness and moderators of language learning strategy instruction on second language and self-regulated learning outcomes. Review of Educational Research 87(3). 544–582. .CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Bereiter, Carl & Marlene Scardamalia. 1987. The psychology of written composition. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.Google Scholar

  • Berman, R. 1994. Learners’ transfer of writing skills between languages. TESL Canada Journal/Revue TESL du Canada 12(1). 29–46.Google Scholar

  • Bialystok, Ellen. 1978. A theoretical model of second language learning. Language Learning 28(1). 69–83.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Cenoz, Jasone. 2001. The effect of linguistic distance, L2 status and age on cross-linguistic influence in third language acquisition. In Jasone Cenoz, Britta Hufeisen & Ulrike Jessner (eds.), Cross-linguistic influence in third language acquisition: psycholinguistic perspectives, 8–20. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd.Google Scholar

  • Cenoz, Jasone, Britta Hufeisen & Ulrike Jessner 2001 Introduction In Jasone Cenoz, Britta Hufeisen & Ulrike Jessner (eds.), Cross-linguistic influence in third language acquisition: psycholinguistic perspectives, 1–7 Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd.Google Scholar

  • Chamot, Anna Uhl 2005 Language learner strategy instruction: current issues and research Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 25. 112–130.Google Scholar

  • Cohen, A.D., S.J. Weaver & T.Y. Li. 1998. The impact of strategies-based instruction on speaking a foreign language. In Andrew D Cohen (ed.), Strategies in learning and using a second language. Harlow: Longman.Google Scholar

  • Cohen, Andrew D. 1998. Strategies in learning and using a second language. 1st edn. Harlow: Longman.Google Scholar

  • Cohen, Andrew D. 2011. Strategies in learning and using a second language. 2nd edn. Harlow: Longman.Google Scholar

  • Cook, Vivian. 2002. Background to the L2 user. In Vivian Cook (ed.), Portraits of the L2 user, 1–28. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd.Google Scholar

  • Cook, Vivian. 2008. Multi-competence: black hole or wormhole for second language acquisition research. In ZhaoHong Han (ed.), Understanding second language process, 16–26. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd.Google Scholar

  • Cumming, Alister. 1989. Writing expertise and second language proficiency. Language Learning 39(1). 81–141.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Cummins, James. 1979. Linguistic interdependence and the educational development of bilingual children. Review of Educational Research 49(2). 222–251.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Cummins, James. 1981. The role of primary language development in promoting educational success for language minority students. Schooling and language minority students: A theoretical framework. Los Angeles: Evaluation, Dissemination and Assessment Center, California State University.Google Scholar

  • Field, Andy. 2009. Discovering statistics using SPSS. 3rd edn. London: Sage Publications Ltd.Google Scholar

  • Flower, Linda & John R Hayes. 1981. A cognitive process theory of writing. College Composition and Communication 32(4). 365–387.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Forbes, Karen. 2016. Cross-linguistic transfer of foreign language writing strategies: Developing first and foreign language writing through metacognitive strategy use. Cambridge, UK: University of Cambridge PhD thesis.Google Scholar

  • Forbes, Karen. 2018a. The role of individual differences in the development and transfer of writing strategies between foreign and first language classrooms. Research Papers in Education. DOI: CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Forbes, Karen. 2018b. “In German I have to think about it more than I do in English”: the foreign language classroom as a key context for developing transferable metacognitive strategies. In Åsta Haukås, Camilla Bjørke & Magne Dypedahl (eds.), Metacognition in language learning and teaching. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Grenfell, Michael & Ernesto Macaro. 2007. Claims and critiques. In Andrew D Cohen & Ernesto Macaro (eds.), Language learner strategies: 30years of research and practice, 9–28. Oxford: OUP.Google Scholar

  • Griffiths, Carol. 2013. The strategy factor in successful language learning. Bristol: Multilingual Matters Ltd.Google Scholar

  • Griffiths, Carol & Rebecca L Oxford. 2014. The twenty-first century landscape of language learning strategies: introduction to this special issue. System 43. 1–10. .CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • James, Mark Andrew. 2006. Teaching for transfer in ELT. ELT Journal 60(2). 151–159. .CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Jones, C.S. & J. Tetroe. 1987. Composing in a second language. In A. Matsuhashi (ed.), Writing in real time, 34–57. New York: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar

  • Kecskes, Istvan & Tünde Papp. 2000. Foreign language and mother tongue. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.Google Scholar

  • Kellerman, Eric. 1991. Compensatory strategies in second language research: A critique, a revision, and some (non-) implications for the classroom. In Robert Phillipson, Eric Kellerman, Larry Selinker, Mike Sharwood Smith & Merrill Swain (eds.), Foreign/second language pedagogy research: A commemorative volume for Claus Faerch, 142–161. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd.Google Scholar

  • Macaro, Ernesto. 2001. Learning strategies in foreign and second language classrooms. London: Continuum.Google Scholar

  • Manchón, Rosa M & Pieter De Haan. 2008. Writing in foreign language contexts: an introduction. Journal of Second Language Writing 17(1). 1–6. .CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • O’Malley, J. Michael & Anna Uhl Chamot. 1990. Learning strategies in second language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Odlin, Terence. 1989. Language transfer: cross-linguistic influence in language learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Oxford, Rebecca. 2011. Teaching and researching language learning strategies. Harlow: Pearson Education.Google Scholar

  • Oxford, Rebecca. 2017. Teaching and researching language learning strategies: self-regulation in context. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Plonsky, Luke. 2011. The effectiveness of second language strategy instruction: A meta-analysis. Language Learning 61(4). 993–1038. .CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Pomphrey, Cathy. 2000. Language transfer and the Modern Foreign Languages curriculum. Issues in Modern Foreign Languages teaching, 269–282. London: RoutledgeFalmer.Google Scholar

  • Rinnert, Carol, Hiroe Kobayashi & Akemi Katayama. 2015. Argumentation text construction by Japanese as a Foreign Language writers: a dynamic view of transfer. The Modern Language Journal 99(2). 213–245. .CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Rubin, Joan, Anna Uhl Chamot, Vee Harris & Neil J Anderson. 2007. Intervening in the use of strategies. In Andrew D Cohen & Ernesto Macaro (eds.), Language learner strategies: 30years of research and practice, 141–160. Oxford: OUP.Google Scholar

  • Williams, Jessica. 2012. The potential role(s) of writing in second language development. Journal of Second Language Writing 21(4). Elsevier Inc. 321–331. .CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

About the article

Karen Forbes

Dr. Karen Forbes is a Lecturer in Second Language Education in the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. Her current research interests include the development and transfer of language learning strategies, multilingualism and identity, and the education of students who speak English as an additional language in UK schools.

Linda Fisher

Dr. Linda Fisher is a Reader in Languages Education in the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. Her current research interests are in the field of modern languages education, in particular, using metaphor to investigate students’ beliefs about language learning, motivation, teacher learning and the academic and social integration of EAL learners. She is co-investigator of a large AHRC project on multilingualism.

Published Online: 2018-07-31

This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (10.13039/501100000269).

Citation Information: Applied Linguistics Review, ISSN (Online) 1868-6311, ISSN (Print) 1868-6303, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2018-0008.

Export Citation

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in