Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Use of subordination in English second language texts
by Nesbitt Perez, Susan L., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2013, 279; 3588149
Abstract (Summary)

This study investigates features of high-level academic writing in English with the aim of understanding the development of L2 English learners’ academic writing skills as they follow a course of study in an English-speaking country. The study focuses on L2 writers’ text quality and use of clause subordinators as a measure of writing complexity. The typology of the writers’ L1s provides the organizational framework for the study, with three language typology groupings determined by a writer’s L1 word order tendency: (1) configurational languages, (2) nonconfigurational languages, and (3) Asian languages.

The corpus analyzed included written work collected at the beginning, the middle, and the end of a semester from 19 international graduate-level students enrolled in a semester-long academic writing course specifically for international students. The principal features examined in the corpus of texts collected were writers’ use and frequency of subordinators, and text comprehensibility. To provide a comparative reference for the academic writing course findings, a separate dataset composed of 240 TOEFL® iBT independent essays was also examined for evidence of similar features.

The results revealed that (1) writers from configurationally different L1s write texts in English that are significantly different in quality and complexity, and; (2) the analysis of the significant differences between groups—sentence length, sentence complexity, comprehensibility, total subordinator frequency, and specific subordinator usage—shows the groups are distinct in their text construction and use of subordination, and that the configurational group’s texts are most different from other groups. Writers’ self-reflections on the progression of their writing skills during the study abroad context add insights to the quantitative findings. The study’s findings suggest directions for future research in L2 writing development, inform EFL pedagogy and L2 English learners’ preparation for study abroad, and underscore the importance of colleges and universities providing comprehensive writing support to incoming international students.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kecskes, Istvan
Commitee: Agee, Jane M., Perez Vidal, Carmen
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Education Theory and Practice
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 74/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: English as a Second Language, Language
Keywords: Academic writing, English as a second language, Intercultural rhetoric, L2 writing pedagogies, Second language writing, Sociolinguistics, Study abroad
Publication Number: 3588149
ISBN: 978-1-303-26082-7
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