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Formulaic sequences and EAP writing development: Lexical bundles in the TOEFL iBT writing section

Published on Sep 1, 2013in Journal of English for Academic Purposes 1.73
· DOI :10.1016/j.jeap.2013.05.002
Shelley Staples7
Estimated H-index: 7
(NAU: Northern Arizona University),
Jesse Egbert7
Estimated H-index: 7
(NAU: Northern Arizona University)
+ 1 AuthorsAlyson McClair1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Iowa State University)
Abstract Formulaic sequences are widely used in academic writing and are known to be an important aspect of EAP writing development. However, little research has investigated the frequency, function and degree of fixedness of their use by ESL writers across proficiency levels. This study examines the use of lexical bundles in written responses across three proficiency levels in the TOEFL iBT ( N  = 480). Bundles that were identical to those found in the prompts were analyzed separately. Biber, Conrad, and Cortes' (2004) taxonomy was used to identify bundle functions. Following Biber (2009) , the degree of fixedness for each of the four slots in the bundle was investigated in relation to the other three. The results indicate that lower level learners used more bundles overall but also more bundles identical to those in the prompts. In contrast, the functional analysis reveals a similar use of stance and discourse organizing bundles across proficiency levels and very few referential bundles used by any of the groups. In addition, there were few differences in fixed versus variable slot bundles across proficiency levels. These findings have important implications for instruction and assessment of EAP writing.
  • References (25)
  • Citations (31)
Published on Jun 6, 2014
Andrew Pawley20
Estimated H-index: 20
Frances Hodgetts Syder3
Estimated H-index: 3
A system for centrifugal casting of induction melted metal includes a crucible and a porous mold secured to a casting arm. The casting arm is secured to a hollow rotatable shaft which includes two separate fluid channels extending axially therethrough. The shaft is supported on a rotary valve which provides separate flow communication with each flow channel. One flow channel provides pressurized argon to the crucible to prevent oxide formation during casting. The other channel provides a vacuum ...
Published on Apr 1, 2012in English for Specific Purposes 1.70
Annelie Ädel10
Estimated H-index: 10
(Stockholm University),
Britt Erman4
Estimated H-index: 4
(Stockholm University)
In order for discourse to be considered idiomatic, it needs to exhibit features like fluency and pragmatically appropriate language use. Advances in corpus linguistics make it possible to examine idiomaticity from the perspective of recurrent word combinations. One approach to capture such word combinations is by the automatic retrieval of lexical bundles. We investigated the use of English-language lexical bundles in advanced learner writing by L1 speakers of Swedish and in comparable native-sp...
Published on Jan 1, 2010in International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 0.83
Stefan Th. Gries28
Estimated H-index: 28
(UCSB: University of California, Santa Barbara),
Joybrato Mukherjee13
Estimated H-index: 13
(University of Giessen)
In our earlier work on three Asian Englishes and British English, we showed how lexico-syntactic co-occurrence preferences for three argument structure constructions revealed differences between varieties that correlated well with Schneider’s (2003, 2007) model of evolutionary stages. Here, we turn to lexical co-occurrence preferences and investigate if and to what degree n-grams distinguish between different modes and varieties in the same components of the International Corpus of English. Our ...
Published on Jun 1, 2010in Language Learning & Technology 2.57
Yu-Hua Chen3
Estimated H-index: 3
Paul Baker24
Estimated H-index: 24
Yu-Hua Chen and Paul Baker Lancaster University This paper adopts an automated frequency-driven approach to identify frequently-used word combinations (i.e., lexical bundles) in academic writing. Lexical bundles retrieved from one corpus of published academic texts and two corpora of student academic writing (one L1, the other L2), were investigated both quantitatively and qualitatively. Published academic writing was found to exhibit the widest range of lexical bundles whereas L2 student writin...
By means of a phraseological identification method, this study provides a general description of the use of conventional sequences (CSs) in interviews at four different levels of spoken L2 French as well as in interviews with native speakers. Use of conventional sequences is studied with regard to overall quantity, category distribution and type frequencies. The most predictive measure is overall quantity, which yields significant differences between several learner levels. It is also found that...
Published on Sep 1, 2009in International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 0.83
Douglas Biber40
Estimated H-index: 40
(NAU: Northern Arizona University)
The present study utilizes a corpus-driven approach to identify the most common multi-word patterns in conversation and academic writing, and to investigate the differing pattern types in the two registers. The paper first surveys the methodological characteristics of corpus-driven research and then contrasts the linguistic characteristics of two types of multi-word sequences: ‘multi-word lexical collocations’ (combinations of content words) versus ‘multi-word formulaic sequences’ (incorporating...
Published on Jan 1, 2009
Ute Römer18
Estimated H-index: 18
Ann Arbor1
Estimated H-index: 1
Published on Dec 1, 2008in ETS Research Report Series
Lawrence J. Stricker22
Estimated H-index: 22
(Princeton University),
Donald A. Rock29
Estimated H-index: 29
(Princeton University)
This study assessed the invariance in the factor structure of the Test of English as a Foreign Language™ Internet-based test (TOEFL® iBT) across subgroups of test takers who differed in native language and exposure to the English language. The subgroups were defined by (a) Indo-European and Non-Indo-European language family, (b) Kachru's classification of outer and expanding circles of countries (based on prevalence of English use in educational and business contexts), and (c) years of classroom...
Published on Sep 1, 2008in TESOL Quarterly 2.72
Nick C. Ellis51
Estimated H-index: 51
(UM: University of Michigan),
Rita Simpson-Vlach4
Estimated H-index: 4
(SJSU: San Jose State University),
Carson Maynard1
Estimated H-index: 1
(UM: University of Michigan)
Natural language makes considerable use of recurrent formulaic patterns of words. This article triangulates the construct of formula from corpus linguistic, psycholinguistic, and educational perspectives. It describes the corpus linguistic extraction of pedagogically useful formulaic sequences for academic speech and writing. It determines English as a second language (ESL) and English for academic purposes (EAP) instructors' evaluations of their pedagogical importance. It summarizes three exper...
Cited By31
Published on Jul 1, 2019in Journal of English for Academic Purposes 1.73
Yu Kyoung Shin (Hallym University)
Abstract Formulaic language is widely used in academic prose and is known to be a useful measure of various aspects of language development. Prior studies have reported that L2 novice/student writers rely on formulaic language typical of conversation more than L1 academic writers do. However, these studies compared different types of academic writing, and thus do not clarify whether the L2 patterns they found are attributable to register or to characteristics of L2 writers, or both. The present ...
Published on Jun 1, 2019in Journal of Second Language Writing 4.20
Sonca Vo (Iowa State University), Sonca Vo
Abstract Second language writing research has often analyzed written discourse to provide evidence on learner language development; however, single word-based analyses have been found to be insufficient in capturing learner language development (Read & Nation, 2006). This study therefore utilized both single word-based and multi-word analyses. Specifically, it explored vocabulary distributions and lexical bundles to better understand the development of writing proficiency across three levels in ...
Published on May 1, 2019in Journal of English for Academic Purposes 1.73
Xiaofei Lu10
Estimated H-index: 10
(PSU: Pennsylvania State University),
Jinlei Deng (University of Languages and International Studies)
Abstract This study compared the use of lexical bundles in dissertation abstracts written in English by Chinese and L1 English doctoral students. Our data consisted of 13,596 and 4,755 abstracts of doctoral dissertations written by Chinese students at Tsinghua University (the Tsinghua Corpus) and L1 English students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (the MIT Corpus), respectively. With a combination of frequency and dispersion criteria, 165 and 134 four-word bundles were identified fr...
Published on Apr 1, 2019in RELC Journal
Liang Li1
Estimated H-index: 1
(University of Waikato),
Margaret Franken8
Estimated H-index: 8
(University of Waikato),
Shaoqun Wu5
Estimated H-index: 5
(University of Waikato)
Lexical bundles, recurrent multiword combinations in a register, are extremely common and important discourse building blocks in academic writing. An increasing number of studies have investigated lexical bundles in academic writing in recent years, but few studies have explored L2 learners’ interpretations of their own bundle production, particularly sentence initial bundle production. Investigating the sources that have appeared to influence learners’ choices and knowledge of bundles is import...
Published on Apr 1, 2019in English for Specific Purposes 1.70
Heidi R. Wright (CMU: Carnegie Mellon University)
Abstract Stand-alone literature reviews exist to synthesize the vast amount of data produced by modern academia, but to date, little research exists on this genre of written academic prose. The present study, therefore, investigates the frequency, dispersion, and discourse functions of lexical bundles in stand-alone literature reviews. A 3.4 million word corpus of 417 stand-alone literature reviews in psychology, education, and medicine was compiled, and four-word bundles occurring more than 40 ...
Yu Liu (BYU: Brigham Young University)
This chapter reviews discussion and findings in the research of second language speaking fluency and its relationship with formulaic language instruction. It examines the disfluent phenomenon in thirty-nine L2 Chinese academic oral presentations. There are eight types of disfluencies found in the data. It is suggested that training in common formulaic sequences in Chinese presentations can provide learners useful framing structures for their presentations. Knowing formulaic sequences can help th...
Published on Dec 1, 2018
Vahid Rafieyan7
Estimated H-index: 7
(Tsuru University)
Formulaic sequences comprise a large body of language and their mastery is supposed to be a key determiner of language proficiency. However, despite their significance in language learning, they are seldom taught in any principled manner in language classrooms and their correct and appropriate use remains a particular challenge to language learners, even at advanced levels. To address this issue, the current study investigated the relationship between knowledge of formulaic sequences and languag...
Even though the learning and use of formulaic language is an important aspect of language learning, the study of lexical bundles, which are within the scope of formulaic language, appears to be an under-researched area in the domain of language learning and teaching. In this respect, the present study aimed to contribute to the literature by providing an account of the use of lexical bundles which included the definite article ‘ the ’ in a corpus of 160 literary analysis essays written by 2 nd y...