Cohesion in non-native speakers┬┤ writing. A contrastive interlanguage and developmental analysis of German as a foreign language

Cohesie in teksten van gevorderde taalleerders. Een contrastief en longitudinaal onderzoek naar leerderstaal in het Duits
Start - End 
2015 - 2018 (ongoing)
Department(s) 
Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication
Research Focus 

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Abstract

Cohesion in learner writing is a promising area of investigation both from a pedagogical and atheoretical point of view. The proposed project aims to close the gap in literature about thecohesion strategies of foreign language (L2) writers in German to inform writing instruction andresearch on L2 development.

L2 students and international professionals need to learn how to write coherent texts. However,pedagogical support often neglects stylistic appropriateness, causing L2 writers to make nonnativelikechoices with regard to cohesion. Yet, corpuslinguistic advances have paved the waytowards creating appropriate instructional material. By analysing comparable corpora of nativeand non-native speakers, the differences in cohesion strategies can be identified semiautomatically.

This method, called Contrastive Interlanguage Analysis, will be used to run a needsanalysis for the development of online instructional material for advanced learners of German L2.This contrastive analysis will be complemented with the analysis of cohesion in a longitudinalcorpus of German L2 with the aim of contributing to research on L2 language development.Cohesive features are closely linked to both syntactic and lexical complexity to the extent that thetransition between developmental stages depends on their mastery. The analysis of cohesion cantherefore support a better understanding of complexity development, a fact that has receivedlittle attention to date.

The long-term goal of this research project is the development of an online module that provides automated feedback on cohesion problems in the writing of advanced German L2 learners.

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