Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Second Language Studies

First Advisor

Tamara Warhol

Second Advisor

Zhini Zeng

Third Advisor

Donald Dyer

Relational Format



Writing in second Chinese writing is viewed as one of the least used skills in classroom practice for educators (Kubler, 1997). While writing research has emphasized the importance of regarding writing as a social activity, mainstream writing instruction and task design remain to decontextualized and monologic (Liu, 2015). This dissertation examines through a sequence of one-year long email writing tasks, how novice to intermediate level Chinese learners develop their writing competence. The current study first adopts the framework of Systemic Functional Linguistics by presenting the use of ideational, interpersonal, and textual resources to explore the trajectory of their meaning-making capacity (Halliday, 1985). From the perspective of social dimension, individual interview data and learners’ writing products are examined so that writers’ attempts and growing capabilities of reader engagement as well as their socialization process are revealed. The study argues that a functional view of writing in second Chinese writing is crucial for learners to evolve in the meaning-making ability in writing and their dialogic involvement with their potential readers. The results call for a pressing shift from a monologic towards a dialogic paradigm to the treatment of Chinese writing instruction and learning, and pedagogical links between a functional view of writing and task design are suggested (Bakhtin, 1986).



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