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A Discourse Analysis in American Learner's Writing Errors with Pedagogical Implications
本研究以英語母語者為研究對象，蒐集美國威廉大學（Williams College）二、三、四年級學生的作文共89 篇（二年級33 篇，三年級29 篇，四年級27 篇），配合面談，分別從形式和功能的角度來分析偏誤現象。
Writing, as one of the four skills for acquiring a language, is an important indicator of successful acquisition of that language. It is also the most difficult skill for learners to acquire, especially at the discourse level. Many discourse errors are found in the production of L2 Chinese learners at a high proficiency level. However, previous research on Chinese learners’ writing has focused on the categorizations of the errors. Sources of errors and pedagogical applications are relatively less discussed. Moreover, the comparisons of errors at different L2 Chinese proficiency levels are rarely examined in literature. Halliday (1961) identifies three discourse functions: i.e. ideational, interpersonal, and textual. According to him, the ideational function refers to the function for composing human experience. The interpersonal function is concerned with the discourse aspects of tenor or interactivity. The textual function is related to the internal structures and communicative functions. He further indicates that the textual function is to combine sentences into a discourse because effective interaction depends on extended discourse rather than words or sentences alone. Moreover, three types of textual function are identified: cohesion, information structure, and thematic structure. Based on Halliday’s discourse framework on cohesion, information structure and, thematic structure, this study seeks to address the following two research questions: 1) In English learners’ L2 composition, what types of errors do they commit and what are the causes of these errors? 2) Do these errors vary according to the learners’ L2 Chinese proficiency? A total of 89 L2 Chinese compositions from Williams College were collected for this study. The compositions were further categorized into three proficiency levels. In conjunction with the results of interviews conducted by the researcher, this study investigated the learners’ errors from the perspectives of both forms and functions. There are three major findings: first, linguistic typology has a great influence on the errors. This paper examined not only interlingual errors resulting from different typologies (i.e. isolating and inflecting languages, branching directions, pro-drop parameter, and subject- and topic-prominent languages), but also intralingual errors (i.e. overgeneralization and simplification). Second, in terms of cohesion errors, learners made the most errors in the areas of reference and conjunction. Within the reference errors, the error percentage was mitigated by the English learners’ L2 Chinese proficiency. As for conjunction errors, the errors made by the learners at the intermediate level were more than those at the elementary level, thus following a U-shaped learning curve. Finally, with respect to the discourse structure, the learners’ lack of recognition of the old-new information order and the concept of discourse resulted in their non-target-like ordering in sequencing information structure and thematic structure. Based on the results of the present study, pedagogical implications and suggestions for the further study are provided.
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