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“In light of this, it is suggested…”: Comparing n-grams in Chinese and British students’ undergraduate assignments from UK universities Maria LeedhamICAME.

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Presentation on theme: "“In light of this, it is suggested…”: Comparing n-grams in Chinese and British students’ undergraduate assignments from UK universities Maria LeedhamICAME."— Presentation transcript:

1 “In light of this, it is suggested…”: Comparing n-grams in Chinese and British students’ undergraduate assignments from UK universities Maria LeedhamICAME 2009

2 Outline 1.Research questions and the corpora 2.Findings 2.1N-grams and functional classifications 2.2Four-grams in four corpora 2.3Four-grams across disciplines 3. Conclusions and pedagogical implications

3 Research Questions 1. In what ways do n-grams differ in Chinese and British undergraduate students' academic writing in U.K. universities? 2. How do n-grams develop in Chinese and British students' writing from year 1 to year 3 of undergraduate study? 3. What are the pedagogical implications for teachers of academic writing? 4. Do n-grams reveal any disciplinary differences?.

4 The Corpora British Academic Written English (BAWE) 6,506,995 words 2,896 texts 2,761 assignments 1,039 contributors 30+ disciplines 13 genre families 4 levels of study Compiling my corpora L1 English and L1 Chinese Divided into years 1&2, and year 3 12 disciplines Extra students recruited through teaching contacts, discussion lists and Facebook. ESRC project number RES

5 Four corpora L1 ChineseL1 English Years 1 & 2140,341 words [89 texts] 876,894 words [436 texts] Year 3139,354 words [57 texts] 458,782 words [175 texts] Totals279, 695 words [146 texts]1,335,676 words [611 texts]

6 Changes in n-gram tokens The number of n-grams of each size reduces in year 3 Chinese… …and increases in year 3 English

7 Functional classification Participant-oriented: -Engagement features (eg it is important to) -Stance features (eg may be due to) Text-oriented: -Framing (eg in the case of) - Structuring (eg as shown in the) -Resultative (eg as a result of) - Transition (eg on the other hand) Research-oriented: -Description (eg the size of the ) - Quantification (eg one of the most) -Location (eg in the present study) - Topic (eg the currency board system) -Procedure (eg the role of the) (Hyland, 2008a,b)

8 4-grams: functional classification

9 Outline 1.Research questions and the corpora 2.Findings 2.1N-grams and functional classifications 2.2Four-grams in four corpora 2.3Four-grams across disciplines 3. Conclusions and pedagogical implications

10 A closer look at 4-grams KEY Bold = common across L1 groups Shaded = common across year groups

11 Concgrams with ‘can’

12 Difficulties with classification Participant- oriented: engagement features - address readers directly (eg it can be seen, as can be seen) Text- oriented: structuring signals - direct reader within the text (eg as shown in the, as shown in figure)

13 4-grams: functional classification

14 Word docs and text files Tables, diagrams and images are tagged and deleted. => The sense of the whole assignment is lost.

15 Non-prose features These features reduce the need for connected prose Listlikes as a strategy ??

16 Outline 1.Research questions and the corpora 2.Findings 2.1N-grams and functional classifications 2.2Four-grams in four corpora 2.3Four-grams across disciplines 3. Conclusions and pedagogical implications

17

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19 Linkers

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21 Pronouns across disciplines

22 Some conclusions Across L1 groups L1 English students seem to use more participant-oriented chunks than L1 Chinese students BUT maybe this is more to do with the classification? ALSO, over time, Chinese students increase their use of non-prose features such as tables and listlikes - this perhaps reduces the need for textual and interpersonal chunks. Across disciplines Some n-grams are common across disciplines (e.g. ‘as a result of’, ‘may be due to’) Some n-grams are more discipline-specific (e.g. ‘the amount of’, ‘the number of’ in Food Science) Some n-grams such as ‘on the other hand’ are common across all disciplines in L1 Chinese writing.

23 Pedagogical implications Writing in each discipline is different – in terms of chunks, use of diagrams and tables, acceptability of pronouns… => Discipline-specific EAP classes are useful Many genres are demanded of students (essay, lab report, reflective writing…) => Model assignments are a good idea. Both L1 Chinese and L1 English students need guidance as to appropriate language within their discipline and within each genre.

24 References British Council ‘China Market Introduction’. Downloaded from Hewings, A. & Hewings, M ‘Approaches to the study of disciplinary variation in academic writing: implications for syllabus design’, in David R. Hall, and Ann Hewings (eds.) Innovation in English language teaching, pp A reader. Open University/Routledge. Heuboeck, A., Holmes, J. & Nesi, H The Bawe Corpus Manual. Retrieved from Hyland, K. (2008a). Academic clusters: text patterning in published and postgraduate writing. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 18(1), Hyland, K. (2008b). As can be seen: Lexical bundles and disciplinary variation. English for Specific Purposes, 27(1), Leedham, M. (forthcoming, 2009) ‘From traditional essay to ‘Ready Steady Cook’ presentation: reasons for innovative changes in assignments’ In Active Learning in HE. Nesi, H. and S. Gardner (2006) ‘Variation in Disciplinary Culture: University Tutors' Views on Assessed Writing Tasks’, in Richard Kiely, Gerald Clibbon, Pauline Rea- Dickins, and Helen Woodfield, (eds) Language, Culture and Identity in Applied Linguistics (British Studies in Applied Linguistics, 21) London: Equinox Publishing.Variation in Disciplinary Culture: University Tutors' Views on Assessed Writing Tasks


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