Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Explicit Teaching of Discourse Markers vs. Input Enhancement on Iranian Efl Learners' Immediate and Delayed Writing Performance

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Explicit Teaching of Discourse Markers vs. Input Enhancement on Iranian Efl Learners' Immediate and Delayed Writing Performance

Article excerpt


English is growingly being used as an international language across the globe; this is motivated by a growing need to communicate with others to understand them and become understood. One of the most important skills in communication in any language, including English, is writing, which is as old as humanity since from the first days the cave-dwelling human beings recorded their observations on rocks.

A writer's aim, in any type of writing, is to get his meanings across in as much a clear and comprehensible way as possible. To do so, he/she needs to be equipped with a set of sub-skills and subcomponents of writing. In other words, writing is a complicated skill that involves the integration of some components and subskills in order to encode the message intended by the message producer. However, unlike oral language, we have the advantage of time on the writer's side since the writer is not under time pressure in which he is supposed to produce the message on time so that he will not lose his/her turn in oral interactions. The writer can write, review, and revise his ideas as many times as needed or possible to brush up his intended message and express it as clearly as possible. The writer can deeply dig and delve into his/her available mental resources and his language repertoire to encode his/her meaning into clear meaningful messages will be later decoded and deciphered by the readers.

To do so, the writer needs to be equipped with a set of skills and subskills one of which is the skill of being able to write in a cohesive and coherent manner. In fact, one important feature facilitating the comprehensibility of a text is cohesion, defined as the meaning relationships existing within a text and contributing to the textuality of a text (Halliday & Hassan, 1976). One type of cohesion is termed as grammatical cohesion, referring to the grammatical connections between individual clauses or utterances in speaking or writing.

Brown and Yule (1983) categorize grammatical cohesion into three broad categories of reference, substitution/ellipsis, and conjunctions. The last category, conjunctions, that establish the relationships between sentences and clauses are very similar to what Schffrin (as cited in Asadi, 2012) labels as discourse markers (DMs). Swan (as cited in Ayman Sabry DaifAllah & Khaled Albashar, 2013) believes that DMs are the words and expressions used to show the relationship between what a speaker is saying, what has already been said, and what is going to be said. More clearly, DMs serve to establish cohesion in the text, which in turn, promotes the comprehensibility of it and helps produce more comprehensible writing. This is endorsed by Rahimi (as cited in Ayman Sabry Daif-Allah & Khaled Albesher, 2013) who believes that DMs are one of the components of communicative competence since they help learners produce fluent and meaningful pieces of discourse in English.

As for any other language skill, as claimed by the proponents of interventionist approaches to L2 instruction, writing and its related skills and subcomponents can be taught in different ways. Explicit instruction and input enhancement are two instances, both of which are attempts to focus the learners' attention on language forms. In other words, both try to bring the language items to the attention of the learners. The former does so by using explicit teaching of the language forms while the latter attempts to teach formal features of language through indirect implicit ways. Specifically speaking, both explicit instruction and input enhancement are rooted in noticing hypothesis according to which learning takes place when the learner notices the language forms in the input. In other words, in order to become intake, the input should be brought to the attention of the learners to make it more salient which, psycholinguistically speaking, leave long lasting traces in the learners' long term memory (Schmidt, 2001; Benati, 2004). …

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