Towards a multilingual approach in assessing writing: holistic, analytic and cross-linguistic perspectives

International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

In this article, we compare holistic, analytic and cross-linguistic measuresof assessment in writing considering the whole linguistic repertoire ofmultilingual writers. We explore different ways to look at their threelanguages by focusing on the relationships between these languagesrather than looking at each language in isolation. We analyse 399compositions – 133 written in each language (Basque, Spanish andEnglish) – using quantitative and qualitative methods. Using analyticaccuracy measures we compare the error-types in the three languagesand analyse their relationships. Using holistic measures, we focus on therelationships between five dimensions of writing (content, organization,vocabulary, language use and mechanics). Using cross-linguisticmeasures, we analyse the influence of participants’ first and secondlanguage on the compositions written in English (L3). The results of thecorrelation analyses show different patterns of relationships among themeasures and indicate that languages within a person’s repertoire areinterconnected at different levels. Additionally, the results from thecross-linguistic analysis show that multilingual writers use their entirelinguistic repertoire to write in their third language. We argue thatanalysing the entire linguistic repertoire of multilingual writers we gainnew understanding about the way languages are connected andlearned when writing.