An investigation on the Role of Discourse Markers in the Quality of the Descriptive Compositions of Iraqi ELT Students
Writing skill is one of the two productive language skills which is highly dependent on coherence and cohesion. Among the diverse influential variables the role of semantic markers among which discourse Markers (DMs) is prominent. Focusing on an ELT context, the study tried to determine whether there is any correlation between the writing ability and employing discourse markers among Iraqi ELT students. The study also tried to recognize the dominant discourse markers which deployed by Iraqi ELT students. To this end, 60 Iraqi ELT students were selected as the subjects of the study who were asked to write a composition on the exposed topic. Their compositions were scored holistically and analyzed in terms of the three types of discourse markers, namely, contrastive, elaborative and inferential. The data was put into SPSS 22 and were explored through Spearman Rho correlation coefficient. The findings revealed that Iraqi ELT students have mainly utilized the contrastive discourse markers comparing the other two types. The study also showed that there is strong and positive correlation between writing ability and the two types of discourse markers, i.e. contrastive and inferential. However, no correlation was found between writing ability and elaborative discourse markers. Likewise, discourse markers influence the quality of writing because discourse markers improve the cohesion and coherence of the writing. Accordingly, in teaching the productive skills, some portion of instruction should be devoted to teaching discourse markers.
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