Using Non-Finites in English Academic Writing by Chinese EFL Students

Bingjun Yang


Frequent use of non-finites is an important feature of English academic writing (Chafe & Danielewicz, 1987), but teachers and students in the Chinese environment are not aware of it. To investigate the problems that can be found in academic writings by Chinese students is significant in two aspects: academic writing by Chinese EFL students being largely ignored in literature; writing in English for publishing research being highly demanding in China nowadays. In order to look into how non-finites are represented in academically-oriented English writing by Chinese EFL students, three groups (30 participants in each) of EFL students from three levels of English proficiency (low-level, intermediate and advanced) were requested to participate in the present study. Participants were required to complete a test, following which 45 participants (15 in each group) were selected according to correlations between test results and scores in the nationwide examinations. Forty-five pieces of writing completed by the participants were then investigated in terms of lexical density, non-finite density, distribution of non-finites, and correlation between use of non-finites and writing proficiency. The results show that the use of non-finites is significantly correlated with higher levels of writing proficiency in English. The findings suggest that, as a typical phenomenon in English academic writing, the use of non-finites display distinct interference from the language of non-native writers, and that awareness of and emphasis on non-finites are necessary in the teaching of English writing, academic writing in particular, in the EFL environment.

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Copyright (c) 2014 Bingjun Yang

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

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