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Metadiscourse markers in English academic writing of Saudi EFL students and UK L1 English students

Alqahtani, Nasser 2022. Metadiscourse markers in English academic writing of Saudi EFL students and UK L1 English students. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This study investigates and compares how three groups of students, Saudi students in Saudi Arabia, Saudi students in the UK, and UK L1 English students, organise and present their text through the employment of metadiscourse (MD). The study also looks at two factors that could influence the students’ use of MD: cultural background and institutional context. MD is defined as rhetorical resources used to organise academic writing and show writers’ attitude and engagement. Writers’ uses of MD generally include: connecting arguments and presenting them in a coherent and convincing way, engaging with readers, showing their (the writer’s) stance to persuade readers to accept their ideas, evaluating their content, and presenting themselves in their writing. The data is formed of three corpora consisting of 30 MA dissertations in applied linguistics (10 dissertations per corpus) analysed using a modified version of Hyland’s (2005a) model. The modifications to Hyland’s model include an additional classification of attitude markers and the addition of three layers of investigation, to further our understanding of MD and to comprehensively compare the three corpora. The first layer (unit place) is concerned with investigating what functions of the basic clause constituents (subject, predicate, etc) MD markers serve, or in which part of a unit expressing any of these functions they appear. The second layer (unit type) is about the form in which MD appears; a single word, a group of words or letters, or numbers. The last layer (dissertation section) is concerned with how MD markers are distributed across the dissertation sections and which rhetorical functions they serve. This study reveals in its theoretical contribution that MD appears most frequently as adjuncts, with a frequency of over 34%. MD use is mostly distributed in the literature review and features least in the recommendations and abstract sections. Also, MD appears mostly as a single word (over 60% frequency) and rarely as letters or numbers (4%). Further, this study shows that interactive MD is more flexible than interactional MD in the ways it is used, in both unit place and unit type. In its empirical findings, this study shows that the three groups differed significantly in their overall use of MD and in both interactive and interactional MD. Within the subcategories, the groups differed in almost every subcategory except in frame markers, code glosses, and attitude markers. However, there are some similarities between Saudi groups which suggest that cultural background influences their use of MD significantly. Specifically, SIS and SIUK focus less on connecting different parts of their dissertations than UKIUK, provide less support for their claims and argument, show little engagement with their readers, and rarely explicitly present themselves in their writing or take an authorial stance. Further, this study suggests that the overall similarities in the three groups indicate that discipline and genre play an important role in how the students sequence their arguments, announce their goals, provide examples and explanations, and finally show similar use of their evaluation and attitudes. The study concludes with some teaching implications for MD in general and some specifically tailored suggestions for Saudi students as the main participants of this study.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 28 February 2023
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2023 11:01

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