Dissertation > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Language teaching

Research on Sentence Features of College Non-English Major Students’ English Writing

Author WangQiuDuan
Tutor LinLi
School Xiamen University
Course Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords English writing sentence features non-English major students
CLC H319
Type Master's thesis
Year 2008
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A sentence is the most fundamental language unit in an article. Features of sentence affect the overall quality of the article and in addition, reflect a student’s language competence. This research studies on sentence features in terms of syntactic complexity, syntactic variety and syntactic cohesions. It boils down to the following two questions: 1. Is there any relationship between sentence features and language proficiencies? 2. What factors are the determinants on the differences in using sentence features? Many researchers (Khaldieh 2000, Uzawa & Cumming1989, Krapels 1990) focus on the study of the model of writing process, the writing strategies, and the relationship between learning strategies and ESL writing processes, but relatively few study on sentence features.The present research makes a comparative and quantitative approach on sentence features in compositions of college non-English major students in Xiamen University and Huaxia Vocational College. The materials for this survey are the writing samples collected from these sixty sophomore students in these two universities. Among them, thirty writing samples were chosen at random from students who taking the English final exam in Xiamen University, the other thirty writing samples from the students who write compositions at writing class in Huaxia Vocational College. The t-test was used in this thesis as a statistical instrument to test whether there is significant difference of ability in using sentence features between both groups. The result of this survey is: 1. Language proficiency affects the use of sentence features. 2. There is significant difference in using sentence features between advanced students and lower students.The finding of this survey suggests that there is positive relationship between some sentence features and English language proficiency. It is found that an advanced student uses more embedded clause, present participle initiating clause, preposition clause, and conjunctive adjuncts in their compositions than a lower student. It is commonly believed that every sentence feature has positive relationship with language proficiency, and therefore, the number of every sentence feature can serve as an index of evaluation of language proficiency. However, the discovery suggests that hypotaxis, parataxis, to+infinitive initiating clause, and comment elements can not serve as explicit marker of evaluation between intermediate students and lower students. In terms of the use of common hypotactic and paratactic clause, intermediate students and lower students can perform equally well. Therefore, if hypotaxis and parataxis are served as criterions, they should be subdivided into common and less common, in which less common hypotactic and paratactic clause should be taken into account.Based on this finding, some suggestions are given to teachers’ evaluation of students’ writing.

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