Problem-solving activity during the foreign language writing process: A proposal for categorisation and visualisation of source use and a new take on fluency in multilingual writing



problem-solving, writing processes, keystroke logging, multilingualism, searching behavior, fluency


Writing processes constitute a complex interplay of planning, formulation and revision. Ideas take shape through the activation of previous knowledge and, when permitted, also its synthesis with information from sources that help to complement it and resolve doubts and shortcomings arising during writing. The possibility to use external help can be especially useful to those writing in a foreign language, and questions about the nature of the sources consulted can contribute new insights into language processing in the multilingual mind, as well as expand our notion of fluency. While leaving the target text is often considered a distraction, a ‘breakdown’ in fluency, it is, in fact, a part of language processing and text creation.

      This article proposes a novel way to use keylogging data from Inputlog (Leijten and Van Waes 2013) to visualise the crosslinguistic nature of solving language and content problems in L3+ writing: creating process graphs to display the temporal dynamics of different types of sources used. The example data comes from a university-level course on Spanish linguistics, where Spanish was a third or subsequent language for the participants. Evidently, the vast majority of their external activity was language-related and brief, and, interestingly, a great part of it recurs to a lingua franca, English. Some social context and reasoning is offered to explain such an observation.


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How to Cite

Kruse, M. (2024). Problem-solving activity during the foreign language writing process: A proposal for categorisation and visualisation of source use and a new take on fluency in multilingual writing. Journal of Writing Research. Retrieved from