Dutch learner English in close-up
A Bayesian corpus analysis of pre-subject adverbials in advanced Dutch EFL writing
This study presents a longitudinal Bayesian analysis of pre-subject adverbial (PSA) use in a 571,174-word corpus of Dutch learner English. Overall, learners use more circumstance and linking adverbials, but fewer stance adverbials than both novice and expert native writers. Learners also use more ‘local anchors’, i.e. adverbials that serve a cohesive purpose by linking back to an antecedent in the directly preceding discourse. Interestingly, untimed essays are more native-like than timed essays in their use of each of the adverbial types considered. Although learners generally develop in the direction of native writing, the use of linking adverbials in learners’ literature essays develops in the opposite direction. L1 transfer may account for more frequent use of some categories of adverbials, particularly local anchors, but the widening gap between learners and native speakers (NSs) in the use of linking adverbials suggests that the potential role of textbook and curriculum design warrants further research.
Keywords: information structure, discourse linking, EFL, advanced learners, L1 transfer
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