Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Impact of Explicit Instruction of Lexico-Grammatical Devices on Efl Learners' Writing Fluency and Complexity

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Impact of Explicit Instruction of Lexico-Grammatical Devices on Efl Learners' Writing Fluency and Complexity

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Undoubtedly, writing is one of the most difficult second language skills. Richards and Renandya (2002) state that the difficulty in writing lies both in expressing and organizing ideas and presenting those ideas into readable text. Halliday and Hasan (1976, 1989) believed that cohesion and coherence are two important parts and features of a good writing. Therefore, if language learners want to be good English writers, whether they are EFL or ESL learners, they are in need of writing coherent and cohesive texts.

In our personal and professional lives, writing plays an important role. Writing is considered an act of communication and a useful way of addressing an audience. However, in an academic area, writing is regarded more than just a means of communication. Therefore, the ability to express meaning clearly in written texts is an important skill for academic success. In fact, college students' writing skills are the best indicators of their academic success (Geiser & Studley, 2001), and also outside the academic context, writing skills are important predictors of professional competence (Light, 2001). However, for many students writing activities are among the least enjoyable or interesting ones. Thus, understanding the characteristics of good writing is an important purpose, both for theoretical and applied reasons (Barkhuizen, 1998; Spratt, 2001).

After the publication of cohesion in English by Halliday and Hasan (1976), the research in the field of cohesion and coherence in the English texts has been increased. According to Halliday and Hasan's (1976) cohesion theory, cohesion provides a sequence of interrelated sentences in a text. Cohesion happens when the interpretation and understanding of some elements in the discourse is dependent on that of another (Halliday & Hasan, 1976). Halliday and Hasan (1976, p. vii) pointed out that cohesion is one of the main elements for text construction. In fact, cohesion refers to the explicit cues in the text that help readers/listeners to understand the semantic relations in a text.

When elements in the text are related to each other, a text gets meaningful and that relation can occur through Cohesive Devices (CDs) including reference, substitution, ellipsis, and conjunction as grammatical and lexical cohesion. Thus, the grammar and lexicon are two forms of cohesion. These CDs used by speakers and writers in order to express meaning provide semantic relations for the elements and facilitate the interpretations (Rassouli & Abbasvandi, 2013).

The mastery of CDs is a crucial element of effective academic writing and essential for academic success in any academic context where English is taught. Consequently, the application of CDs in academic writing has attracted the attention of many researchers who are interested in addressing the issue of lack of cohesion in students' writing, especially in a foreign context (Hesamy & Hamedi, 2013).

2. Review of the Literature

Since writing is a complicated process even in our first language, learning this skill is more difficult for EFL/ESL learners. According to many English teachers learning writing skill seems to be more demanding compared to learning any other language skill. There are a lot of researches which have aimed at finding out different factors that influence writing skill and lead to problems for language learners. Some of the factors influencing learners' writing have been mentioned in Angelova's study (as cited in Rassouli & Abbasvandi, 2013) including "L1 writing competence, meta-cognitive knowledge about writing task, use of cohesive devices, writers personal characteristics and writing strategies" (p. 15).

Among the factors which can affect writing tasks, cohesion and coherence, seem to be two most problematic area for EFL learners (Shokrpour & Fallahzadeh, 2007). Cohesion is considered to be one of the important factors which needs special attention in writing since it connects different parts of the text. …

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