A Corpus-based Discourse Analysis of Grammatical Cohesive Devices Used in Expository Essays Written by Emirati EFL Learners at Al Ghazali School, Abu Dhabi

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
This descriptive study aimed at investigating eighth-grade Emirati EFL learners‟ familiarity with employing grammatical cohesive devices (GCDs) in generating expository texts. A learner corpus sample comprising 30 written expositions was analyzed according to Halliday and Hasan‟s (1976) grammatical cohesion framework, by using the web-based software concordance toolWmatrix3. The mixed-methods research design was conducted to identify the most frequently utilized GCDs in terms of numbers and percentages, and to disclose the difficulties encountered by the learners in using these linking ties. The results obtained showed that the learners employed all four types of grammatical cohesion: reference, substitution, ellipsis, and conjunction, despite of the considerable differences regarding their frequencies in the texts. They relied heavily on conjunctive devices (57%), followed by referential ones (35%), whereas elliptical and substitutional devices represented only 6.5% and 1.5%. respectively of the total usage of GCDs. Furthermore, the learners employed all sub-types of grammatical cohesion, often with a focus on specific devices within each sub-type. However, 19% of the devices used in the text showed inappropriateness. The qualitative analysis indicated that the problems encountered by the learners were mainly misusing, excessively using, and inadequately using some GCDs in many paragraphs. Some pedagogical implications were provided to help EFL teachers enhance learners‟ skills in generating more cohesive written discourse. These included:blending reading with writing activities, teaching GCDs explicitly, helping learners to think in English while writing, exploiting writing as a thinking tool, and using corpora in learning and teaching practices.
corpus-based discourse analysis, grammatical cohesive devices, Emirati EFL learners, Abu Dhabi