S-Space College of Education (사범대학) Dept. of Foreign Language Education (외국어교육과) English Language (영어전공) Theses (Master's Degree_영어전공)
Thematic Organization in the English Writing of Korean College Students: A Systemic-Functional Approach : 한국인 대학생 영어 학습자의 영어 글쓰기에서의 주제 구조 연구: 체계기능적 접근
- 사범대학 외국어교육과
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 대학원
- Theme ; thematic structure ; systemic functional grammar ; second language writing ; argumentative writing ; corpus
- 학위논문 (석사)-- 서울대학교 대학원 : 외국어교육과, 2017. 2. 오선영.
- In academic writing, conventional wisdom holds that the logical development of ideas is an essential factor for organizing a text. Drawing on Hallidays (1994) Systemic Functional framework, theme, an analytical unit which is defined as the starting point of a message, has been regarded as a vital method of development by systemic functional linguists.
Given the crucial role of the thematic organization in constructing logical connection in the text, considerable research efforts have been made to examine the thematic structures in academic writing (Bloor & Bloor, 1992
Ghadessy & Gao, 2000
Green et al., 2000
North, 2005). Despite the growing interest in the thematic selection, however, the systemic functional approach is at an early stage of L2 research area. There is a clear need for examining differential impact of L2 learners proficiency levels on thematic choice as it remains elusive. In addition, the literature needs statistical generalization as previous research has been based mostly on the relatively small amount of data.
Employing Hallidays Systemic functional approach, the present study focuses on the Korean EFL college students way of distributing information in written English texts, with special focus on how learners proficiency contributes to how they organize thematic structure. The current research takes materials of argumentative essays written by Korean EFL college students and English native speakers with inquiry focused on the thematic selection and usages of theme features including theme length, theme function, theme markedness, thematising structure, theme role, and lexico-semantic properties of the theme. In particular, the current study aims to identify if Korean EFL writers usage of the thematic organization gets closer to that of native writers as learners proficiency improves. Further, by identifying the thematic structure of many thousands of instances, the current research purports to examine a key characteristic of high-performing writers in terms of constructing the thematic structures. The detailed qualitative analysis gives a better understanding of how individual learners employ theme in actual contexts.
The quantitative result uncovers disparity between non-native and native writers texts in pivotal aspects of the thematic structure. The tendency to overuse certain theme features such as textual theme, multiple theme, thematic equative, the first and the second person pronouns and abstract concepts is observed in all levels of learners. It is also worth noting that learners proficiency is a crucial factor that affects theme length, marked theme, predicated theme, and theme role in that learners show improvement as their proficiency increases.
The qualitative analysis reveals pronounced differences in the thematic organization of non-native and native writers. One stark difference is the tendency to overuse the textual theme
the variety of textual elements and the number of textual theme increase as proficiency develops. Also noteworthy is that the present study provides a clearer picture of differences in the aspects of the interpersonal theme. The results indicate that Korean EFL learners stick to certain familiar interpersonal features, thus their arguments become less convincing. Regarding learners dependence on the first and second person pronouns in the topical theme, the results of the current study indicate that the overuse problem improves as learners proficiency increases. Indeed, the results show that the level of proficiency significantly influences learners choices of thematic structures.
These findings provide meaningful implications for Korean EFL writing pedagogy. The present study statistically verifies significant differences due to proficiency and reveals that advanced learners also make inexperienced choice in constructing thematic structure. In this regard, the results suggest current education should concentrate more on drawing out the proper use of thematic structure, thus enabling learners to raise awareness and achieve knowledge of the thematic development of texts.