Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Robert C. Lafayette


This research studied dialogue journal writing, as it occurred between a teacher and twenty-one students in a French III high school. Results on attitude questionnaire indicated that dialogue journals helped students overcome their fear of the written form and increase their self-confidence and willingness to write. By demystifying the writing process, writing in their dialogue journals helped these students develop positive attitudes. The results on writing proficiency pre and post-tests indicated that students performed as well or better than students after four years of a foreign language in a high school setting or four semesters of college instruction. The dialogue journals served as a bridge to other kinds of writing such as the topics in the writing proficiency test. To arrive at characteristics of good language communicators, three independent measures were used: (1) holistic assessment of communicative competence of the dialogue journals, (2) results on a proficiency writing test, (3) analysis of the dialogue journals based on Gutstein's (1987) model of communicative competence (quantity, coherence, topical appropriateness, functionality, and interactional awareness). The relationship among these three measures were seen to be indicative of student communicative competence in dialogue journal writing. The results of both the proficiency writing post-test and the holistic ranking showed a high correlation with the following characteristics of good language communicators: quantity (the total number of words), interactional awareness (percentage of answered questions), grammar (percentage of correct verb conjugation and tense/mood), and the function of analyzing, evaluating, and reflecting. The holistic ranking also showed the following characteristics of a good language communicator: the function of reporting personal facts, the function of requesting general information, the function of request for opinions, the range of language functions used, the miscellaneous topic domain, the range of topic categories written about. The best predictors for the holistic ranking of the dialogue journals were the total number of functions used and the total number of words written. The best predictor for the results on the proficiency writing post-test was the percentage of correct usage of tense/mood verbs. These findings provide support for the inclusion of dialogue journals in the foreign language classroom.