Faculty of Education - Theses

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    A cohesion analysis of texts written by adult Mandarin ESL students
    Beaumont, Merrilyn F. ( 2001)
    This project aims to explore the written cohesive strategies employed by Mandarin English as a Second Language (ESL) learners, which knowledge will enable educators to better address their specific needs. The participants were members of an adult literacy class of both native and non-native speakers. Students completed several preliminary tasks in order to establish their familiarity with the specific grammatical resources utilised in English. Using a prompt, they wrote letters of complaint, which provided the research data. These were analysed from a functional systemic perspective, identifying patterns of usage of cohesive devices. Questionnaires and individual interviews provided qualitative insights into students' language practices. The study demonstrated that Mandarin students employed a higher percentage of cohesive ties than did the native speakers, which phenomenon may be explained by factors including level of first language literacy, years of formal English language study, and years of residency in Australia. The study suggests that Mandarin ESL learners might moderate their density of cohesive ties, to attain native-like written rhetorical structure. Secondly, register variables proved to have significant implications for cohesive paradigms, in conjunction with contrastive rhetoric cultural conventions. Lexical cohesive patterns point to the crucial role of vocabulary acquisition, an aspect of language acquisition which ought to be addressed in the teaching field. The study also explores the eclectic nature of the language practices acquired by students who have received considerable EFL teaching, and have often lived in English speaking communities for extended periods. Ultimately, this research highlights the need for further study in adult literacy contexts; drawing on larger samples from more diverse language backgrounds, with a specific focus on the role of politeness theory, register variables and contrastive rhetoric.