The Use of Discourse Markers in Paragraph Writings: The Case of Preparatory Year Program Students in Qassim University

Ayman Sabry Daif-Allah, Khaled Albesher


The purpose of this paper is to identify the discourse markers used by Saudi EFL learners in their paragraph writing. The study was conducted on fifty students of the Preparatory Year Program at Qassim University. Data were collected from one hundred paragraphs written by the students at the end of the first and second semesters of the academic year 2012/13. These paragraphs were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively in terms of the number of discourse markers used and their categories preferred in written paragraphs by three raters. The findings of the study revealed that the students overused the additive connectors followed by the causative, the contrastive and the illustrative ones. In addition, the students’ use of writing discourse markers is too limited and the ones that were most frequently used are “and”, “in addition”, and “for example”. The findings also indicated that the subjects of the study wrote too many simple sentences in their paragraphs in a choppy and immature manner and that their use of discourse markers did not develop as they progressed in education. The results also showed a positive and direct relationship between test scores and the use of discourse markers. A number of reasons were found to underlie the lack of using discourse markers on top of which were the teaching materials and examinations. The study concluded that students’ ability to use discourse markers should be developed as a condition to improve their writing fluency and that their writing instructors should bridge the gaps in writing course books by suggesting necessary supplementary materials. The study suggests further extensive research investigating the misuse of discourse markers in the different language skills among students of different majors.

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Copyright (c) 2013 Ayman Sabry Daif-Allah, Khaled Albesher

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English Language Teaching       ISSN 1916-4742 (Print)   ISSN  1916-4750 (Online)

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