This article makes the case for using activity theory to explore the learning and teaching of writing in a foreign language. I illustrate my argument by bringing this theory to bear on a re-examination of the different modes of engagement in writing by university-level students of Japanese as a foreign language that I identified in an earlier study. The first half of the article develops a perspective on writing as a social activity/ practice, building on an interdisciplinary body of work and focusing particularly on activity theory. The different modes in which students engaged in writing in my earlier study are then interpreted from this perspective. I examine these modes both synchronically and diachronically in order to explore the students' underlying values and attitudes with respect to learning the target language, suggesting that an activity-theoretical perspective can be a useful heuristic for the systematic detection of problems in writing that foreign language learners may encounter, so that instruction can be tailored to their needs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Linguistics and Language