Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Reiteration Relations in EFL Student Writing: The Case of Moroccan University Students

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Reiteration Relations in EFL Student Writing: The Case of Moroccan University Students

Article excerpt


This study looks into the use of reiteration relations in EFL student writing. The aim is to determine the extent to which Moroccan college students rely on lexical cohesion to produce native-sounding texts. Twenty essays written by college students from two different levels were analyzed quantitatively using Halliday and Hasan's (1976) and Hoey's taxonomies (1991). The results of the independent sample T-test confirm previous studies, revealing that repetition is the most dominant cohesive relation used by students from both levels. However, the use of synonyms is not frequent in spite of the learners' language proficiency development. Students from both levels are also found to overuse conjunctions to connect their sentences as a result of their weak vocabulary and theirlack of awareness of the role of lexis in the creation of continuity and connectedness in their writings.

Keywords: cohesion, coherence, lexical cohesion, reiteration, writing

1. Introduction

Many researchers recognize the importance of lexis in the creation of continuity in text (Hasan, 1984; Hoey, 1991; Widowson, 1992). In this respect, lexical cohesion is considered a key factor in creating and interpreting discourse (Morris, 2004). However, there is a consensus that its exploration is in fact a challenge. As Sinclair (1998) points out, "the tools for lexical analysis remain unrefined, while grammar has gone through many stages of sophistication" (p. 3). This observation implies that researchers have given more attention to grammatical cohesion since its analysis is simpler than that of lexical cohesion, whose complexity comes from the flexibility and richness of lexis. This tendency in cohesion research has influenced the teaching of cohesion in writing. Many Moroccan EFL teachers believe that teaching cohesion means teaching conjunctions. As a consequence of this approach, the Moroccan EFL students' writings are characterized by an overuse of connectors (Hilali, 2000). The study at hand looks into the use of reiteration relations in EFL student writing. The objective is to find out how EFL students develop lexical cohesion in their writing.

2. Background of the Study

2.1 Cohesion

Cohesion may be defined as the way in which a sentence is connected to its predecessors in a passage by means of some lexical items and grammatical features; it refers to the elements on the surface level of text that connect its parts and help it form a unified whole. For Halliday and Hasan (1976) it is achieved "when the interpretation of some element in discourse is dependent on that of another. The one presupposes the other" (p. 4). Cohesion also covers units beyond the sentence level, which are the basis for discourse studies. For Michael Halliday and Ruqaiya Hasanthe semantic and syntactic links between pairs of elements in a text are the major contributors to the text's unity.

Cohesion for Markels (1983) is both a semantic and syntactic phenomenon. It is achieved when "a dominant term, explicit or implicit, occupies concurrently the most important semantic position in the paragraph and also the most important syntactic position in each sentence in the paragraph" (p. 453). Dominant is a key word here. For a term to be described as dominant it should consistently appear in the subject position. If it is repeated in each sentence but not in the subject position, it cannot be defined as a dominant term, and the cohesion of the paragraph is affected. In this sense, cohesive ties and chains should be considered with reference to their syntactic position because syntax is also important as it helps readers remember the content of the text and identify the topic of a passage by way of the dominant term.

2.2 Coherence

Coherence may be defined as a quality in text that enables the reader to make sense of it thanks to its organization according to some model of development. It is a complex concept, which has been subject to controversy among discourse analysts. …

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