Japanese Students’ Difficulties with Metadiscursive Nouns in Argumentation Essays

  •  Nobuko Tahara    


The present study attempts to identify difficulties that Japanese students encounter with metadiscursive nouns in writing second language (L2) argumentation essays. Metadiscursive nouns are abstract and unspecific nouns which can serve as cohesive markers by retrieving their meanings in the text where they occur. Using a selected number of nouns (i.e., problem. reason, thing, fact, idea, decision), this study examines how the nouns, occurring in several syntactic patterns, expressed their meanings in the text and served as metadiscursive devices in L2 essays written by Japanese students, in comparison with essays by American students as a benchmark. The study also discusses the use of problem and reason in relation to rhetorical patterns such as cause-effect clauses and the Problem-Solution text pattern that occurred in the two corpora. A comparison of the ways in which the Japanese and American students use these nouns points to several difficulties the Japanese cohort faces in using metadiscursive nouns in argumentative essays: providing a focus in describing information, making an explicit meaning link, and using particular English rhetorical patterns. Suggestions are made for further inquiries which could broaden our understanding of the behavior of this class of nouns and inform the teaching of L2 argumentation essays. 

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