Does Planning Really Help?: Effectiveness of Planning in L2 Writing

Mark D. Johnson


Pre-task planning (i.e., planning prior to composing) has long been assumed to lead to L1 and L2 writing improvement. This assumption has historically been supported by L1 writing research from the field of cognitive psychology. However, the results of recent research on pre-task planning and L2 writing suggest that pre-task planning alone has minimal impact on features of L2 writers’ texts. This article provides an overview of how pre-task planning is theorized to impact L1 writers’ texts and examines recent quantitative L2 writing research on pre-task planning, the results of which suggest that pre-task planning may be moderated by general L2 proficiency as well as knowledge of the targeted writing genre. Areas for future L2 writing research are discussed as are the potential implications of future research.


L2 writing; L1 writing; Pre-task planning; task-based second language acquisition; Fluency; Grammatical complexity; Lexical complexity

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ISSN 2045-4031. University of Central Lancashire 2010-2013.