Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Effect of Textual Metafunction on the Iranian EFL Learners' Writing Performance

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Effect of Textual Metafunction on the Iranian EFL Learners' Writing Performance

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study is devoted to the effect of 'textual metafunction' on the levels of coherence and cohesion in the Iranian EFL learners' English writing performance. Sixty Iranian intermediate EFL learners who were adult females participated in this study were randomly divided into two groups; experimental, and control. They were given a writing pre-test. Then both groups' subjects attended an essay writing class, two sessions per week, for a ten-week term; however, while the experimental group was taught how to write a standard three-paragraph essay in English, and apply the textual metafunction in it, the control group was only taught how to write a standard three-paragraph essay. After the completion of the instructional period, both groups were given a writing post-test in which they were asked to write a standard three-paragraph essay on a subject. The analytic scoring scale of 'Hungarian School-Leaving English Examination Reform' (2001, as cited in Tankó, 2001) was employed by three independent raters for rating the writing samples. A 't-test' on the mean scores of both groups indicated a significant difference between the scores of the post-tests, meaning that the textual metafunction was significantly effective in the experimental group's writing task. Moreover, while the mean scores of the control group's pre-post tests were the same, the mean score of the experimental group's post-test was higher than that of the pre-test, meaning that textual metafunction increased the levels of cohesion and coherence in their writing task.

Keywords: coherence, cohesion, EFL learners, textual metafunction, writing performance, writing scale

1. Introduction

Many models of writing that have been developed since the 1970s and early 1980s (e.g. Bereiter & Scardamalia (1987), Grabe & Kaplan (1996), Flower & Hayes (1980), Hayes (1996), Kellogg (1996) and Zimmerman (2000)) illustrate how written production is indeed a complicated process.

This cognitively demanding exercise can challenge those writing in LI, but for those writing in a foreign language, the challenges are even greater. Flower and Hayes (1980, as cited in Manchón, 2009) emphasized on the importance of writing and developed the processes in which the expert writers engage. These processes include the three broad stages of planning, formulating, and revising. Kroll (2008: 230-231) also, emphasized on the importance of writing skill and believed that the school essay is one of the most frequent forms of writing. According to Kroll "it is used in matriculation examinations at the end of high school years, and large-scale tests of English proficiency, such as the TOEFL, now include an essay task." Craig (2013: 140), also mentioned to the significance of the writing skill; and believed that since the ESL/EFL learners are essentially depended on their teachers, and since the teachers are assigned many classes with many students, it is nearly impossible to teach all the necessary aspects of writing to students. The aspects of language needed to be concentrated in a writing task are high in number, and variable regarding the writing scales; however, since in the present study the main focus is on the coherence, and cohesion it is useful to illustrate the production and place of coherence, and cohesion in writing.

Cook (1989) states that there are two different kinds of language as the potential objects of study; one kind is the abstract form which is used to teach the language, the other kind, is used to communicate, and is known as the discourse. Therefore, discourse is the study of language in use. Furthermore, discourse analysis is the search for what gives it coherence. According to Halliday and Hasan (1976, as cited in Tanskanen, 2006) the interconnection of different parts of discourse in a context is called cohesion, and the interconnection of the cohesive parts is called coherence. In addition, there is a relationship between discourse, cohesion, and coherence (Eftekhar Paziraie, 2012a). …

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