International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Discourse Markers in ESL Personal Narrative and Argumentative Papers: A Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis
Emad A. Alghamdi

This study reports a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the use of discourse markers (DMs) in personal narrative and argumentative papers written by 30 undergraduate students: 15 native speakers (NS) and 15 nonnative speakers (NNS). The study also ascertains whether the frequency and the incorrect use of DMs plays a role in determining the quality of ESL writings. Findings showed that there was no significant difference in the use of DMs. In both types of composition, NS and NNS writers used elaborative, contrastive and reason markers at higher rates than any DMs in other categories, forming, as consequence, a hierarchy of use. The qualitative analysis of NNS writings showed an overuse of DMs at sentence-initial position and an unnecessary use of semantically similar DMs within the boundary of a single sentence. The incorrect use and the frequency of DMs were key indicators of the quality of ESL writings. Finally, some pedagogical implications are offered.

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