Analysis of thematic structure in L2 writing: A systematic functional perspective
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- Analysis of thematic structure in L2 writing: A systematic functional perspective
- Nam, Daehyeon; Park, Kwanghyun
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 교육종합연구원
- THE SNU JOURNAL OF EDUCATION RESEARCH, v.24, pp.66 - 88
- In academic writing, it is essential that the text is organized to convey information through the logical development of ideas. The key element of the logical structure is Theme, a textual unit that condenses known information and establishes grounds for further development. Although theme has long been researched in text and register analysis, it is an emerging area of research in L2 writing—mainly due to the lack of availability of large L2 corpora and a computational means. Using an automatic software program for analyzing thematic structure, this study investigates themes in essays written by Korean students in contrast to themes in data taken from the Michigan Corpus of Upper-level Student Papers (MICUSP), a 1.6 million-word corpus comprised of advanced academic papers. The themes in 138 essays written by Korean students were analyzed focusing on two learner variables: the academic discipline (humanities vs. science), and L2 proficiency. The results show a moderate difference in analysis of academic discipline, but highly significant differences in analysis of proficiency. The follow-up qualitative analysis found the limited repertoire of thematic choices in the essays written by Korean students. Based on this finding, the possible use of the theme in L2 writing research is discussed.
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