Improving EFL Writing Through Study of Semantic Concepts in Formulaic Language

  •  Andrew D. Schenck    
  •  Wonkyung Choi    


Within Asian EFL contexts such as South Korea, large class sizes, poor sources of input and an overreliance on the Grammar-Translation Method may negatively impact semantic and pragmatic development of writing content. Since formulaic language is imbued with syntactic, semantic and pragmatic linguistic features, it represents an ideal means to evaluate the influence of Asian EFL contexts on writing. Thus, formulaic language within academic texts from Korean university students was compared to that found in essays written by American university students. Results revealed that Korean EFL learners overused transitions to define the organization of academic texts at the expense of developing content. Moreover, they used repetition, general lists, and all-purpose formulaic language to “pad” content, neglecting to consider semantic or pragmatic purposes of the text. In contrast to their Korean EFL counterparts, American university students used formulaic language for a variety of pragmatic purposes such as involving the reader, putting examples into a larger perspective, adding connotation, and addressing the perspective of the reader. It appears that EFL contexts such as South Korea require pedagogical and curricular reforms which foster the development of writing composition for semantic and pragmatic purposes.

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