A Corpus-Based Study of Adverbial Connectors in Learner Text

Mark Shea


            This study presents the results of an analysis of the use of adverbial connectors (e.g., however, moreover) in an English learner corpus consisting of 100 timed-writing texts (33,147 words). Adverbial connectors are often identified in the research literature and taught to learners as a means of creating cohesion between sentences in a text. Previous corpus studies of learner use of adverbial connectors have focused on comparing learners’ use of these cohesive devices with various samples of NS writing. Results have been conflicting, and, when differences have been observed, it is unclear whether they have a substantive effect on how a learner’s writing is perceived by a reader.

Whereas earlier research has compared NNS use of adverbial connectors to that in NS texts, the present study instead investigated whether learner use of these cohesive devices correlates with raters’ perceptions of the organization or overall quality of the writing. The texts were rated by two raters using an analytic scale. The combination of corpus and rater data represents new direction in research on cohesion in learner writing. Correlations between rates of connector use and rater scores indicated a significant, but small, relationship between adverbial connector use and raters’ evaluation of text organization.

Keywords: L2 Writing; Cohesion; Corpora

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