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A Corpus-based Study of Discourse Features in Learners

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A Corpus-based Study of Discourse Features in Learners Writing Development Yu-Hua Chen Lancaster University, UK Background Ellis (1994: 44) identified four major ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: A Corpus-based Study of Discourse Features in Learners


1
A Corpus-based Study of Discourse Features in
Learners Writing Development
  • Yu-Hua Chen
  • Lancaster University, UK

2
Background
  • Ellis (1994 44) identified four major approaches
    in describing learner language
  • the study of learners errors
  • the study of developmental patterns
  • the study of variability
  • the study of pragmatic features

3
Background
  • Ellis (1994 44) identified four major approaches
    in describing learner language
  • the study of learners errors
  • the study of developmental patterns
  • the study of variability
  • the study of pragmatic features

4
Background
  • Studies on ESL/EFL writing development

5
Background
  • Studies on ESL/EFL writing development
  • Generally focusing on fluency, accuracy and
    complexity

6
Background
  • Studies on ESL/EFL writing development
  • Generally focusing on fluency, accuracy and
    complexity
  • Usually based on small-scale data

7
Background
  • Studies on ESL/EFL writing development
  • Generally focusing on fluency, accuracy and
    complexity
  • Usually based on small-scale data
  • Not much attention being paid to the
    developmental patterns of discourse features

8
My Hypothesis
  • In addition to fluency, accuracy and
    complexity, there are developmental patterns at
    the textual level of learners written language.

9
Previous Findings
  • For example, Kennedy Thorp (2007)
  • IELTS writers at levels 4/6 use
    lexico-grammatical markers (e.g. however) more
    frequently. Level 8 writers rely on them less and
    appear to be nearer to native speaker use in this
    respect.

10
Previous Findings
  • For example, Kennedy Thorp (2007)
  • IELTS writers at levels 4/6 use
    lexico-grammatical markers (e.g. however) more
    frequently. Level 8 writers rely on them less and
    appear to be nearer to native speaker use in this
    respect.
  • Enumerative markers (firstly, etc) are used twice
    as much by level 4/6 writers as level 8 writers.

11
Previous Findings
  • For example, Kennedy Thorp (2007)
  • Subordinators are used slightly less by level 8
    writers than by levels 4/6.

12
Previous Findings
  • For example, Kennedy Thorp (2007)
  • Subordinators are used slightly less by level 8
    writers than by levels 4/6.
  • Lower level scripts (4/6) are more categorical
    and content is less modified by hedging.
    Expressions of (dis)agreement and opinion tend to
    be more directly expressed (I agree/disagree/in
    my opinion etc) at level 4.

13
Provisional Research Focuses
  • Bottom-up Approach
  • Discourse Markers, e.g. however, hence, first,
    then, etc.

14
Provisional Research Focuses
  • Bottom-up Approach
  • Discourse Markers, e.g. however, hence, first,
    then, etc.
  • Hedging Devices, e.g. modal auxiliaries, modal
    lexical verbs (seem, appear, suggest, indicate,
    assume, etc.), modal adjectives (possible),
    modal adverbials (perhaps)

15
Provisional Research Focuses
  • Bottom-up Approach
  • Discourse Markers, e.g. however, hence, first,
    then, etc.
  • Hedging Devices, e.g. modal auxiliaries, modal
    lexical verbs (seem, appear, suggest, indicate,
    assume, etc.), modal adjectives (possible),
    modal adverbials (perhaps))
  • Top-down Approach
  • Lexical bundles recurrent word combination

16
Data
  • The Longman Learner Corpus
  • A large collection of documents written by
    learners of English
  • Comprising mainly essays and exam scripts from
    students throughout the world between 1990 and
    2002

17
Data
  • The Longman Learner Corpus
  • A large collection of documents written by
    learners of English
  • Comprising mainly essays and exam scripts from
    students throughout the world between 1990 and
    2002
  • Only written samples from L1 Chinese learners of
    L2 English are included in my project.

18
Data
  • The Longman Learner Corpus
  • A large collection of documents written by
    learners of English
  • Comprising mainly essays and exam scripts from
    students throughout the world between 1990 and
    2002
  • Only written samples from L1 Chinese learners of
    L2 English are included in my project.
  • Only argumentative/expository essays are selected.

19
A LLC Sample
  • ltRFgt 00706
  • ltCOgt USA
  • ltLAgt CHC
  • ltLEgt AD
  • ltENgt INT
  • ltTTgt 1
  • ltPAgt Culture shock
  • ltPAgt Culture shock occurs as a result of when
    you are suddently immersion
  • in a new different culture. It's due to
    your own feeling how to deal
  • with the differences in food, clothing,
    and other things.
  • ltPAgt When I arrived at the L.A airport on Aug
    3. The first thing is to
  • meet the I.N.S. inspector. I found the
    Americas are very open-minded
  • and kindness to give me more assistance.
    They judge everyone just
  • built in a Truth. If you are honest, it
    is easy to pass. Then I woked
  • out the gate of airport I saw it is
    marvolous that has so many
  • terminals and complex cross-freeway
    system just a high technology

20
The Need to Rate the LLC Scripts
  • It is argued that the judgment on learners
    proficiency should be made based on their
    linguistic performance, as opposed to
    extralinguistic factors such as years of
    learning English or programme levels. In
    addition, most learners are not equally competent
    in terms of reading, listening, speaking, and
    writing therefore, it is necessary to rate the
    LLC scripts if only the written performance is
    the target to be analysed.

21
Rating Scale
  • the written assessment criteria grid in Manual
    for relating Language Examinations to the Common
    European Framework of Reference (p.82)

22
Rating Scale
  • the written assessment criteria grid in Manual
    for relating Language Examinations to the Common
    European Framework of Reference (p.82)
  • Due to the large number of samples needed in this
    project, a holistic/impressionist rating scale is
    adopted.

23
Expected Project Scale
Level Pilot Study Pilot Study Main Investigation Main Investigation
Level No. of samples No. of words No. of samples No. of words
C2 -- 20,000 -- 100,000
C1 -- 20,000 -- 100,000
B2 -- 20,000 -- 100,000
B1 -- 20,000 -- 100,000
Total 300 80,000 1,500 400,000
24
Expected Contributions
  • Collaboration between SLA and Language Testing

25
Expected Contributions
  • Collaboration between SLA and Language Testing
  • SLA
  • Shed light on learners language development
  • Provide insights for ELT writing pedagogy

26
Expected Contributions
  • Collaboration between SLA and Language Testing
  • SLA
  • Shed light on learners language development
  • Provide insights for ELT writing pedagogy
  • Language Testing
  • Facilitate the design of a common band scale of
    writing assessment
  • Help develop a computer automated marking system
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