A Comparative Study of the Oral Proficiency of Chinese Learners of English Across Task Functions: A Discourse Marker Perspective
Article first published online: 14 NOV 2011
© 2011 American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, Inc.
Foreign Language Annals
Volume 44, Issue 4, pages 674–691, Winter 2011
How to Cite
Wei, M. (2011), A Comparative Study of the Oral Proficiency of Chinese Learners of English Across Task Functions: A Discourse Marker Perspective. Foreign Language Annals, 44: 674–691. doi: 10.1111/j.1944-9720.2011.01156.x
- Issue published online: 14 NOV 2011
- Article first published online: 14 NOV 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 20 JUL 2011
- Manuscript Received: 10 DEC 2009
- Chinese learners of English;
- discourse marker;
- oral proficiency;
- task function
This study investigated the use of discourse markers (DMs) by college learners of English in China. It compared the use of DMs for four discourse functions by students at different proficiency levels. An audio–video instrument called Video Oral Communication Instrument was conducted to elicit ratable speech samples. Fraser's (1999) taxonomy was adopted to identify DMs. Quantitative and qualitative analyses indicated that while both intermediate and advanced students showed certain sensitivity to different task functions in DM use, advanced students resorted to DMs not only to construct hierarchical structures of meanings for more transactional tasks, but also to fulfill more interactive purposes for the more interactional task. Intermediate students tended to use DMs, sometimes in a confusing way, to organize their spoken discourse sequentially at minor discourse divisions, regardless of task functions. The findings overall suggest that proficiency level relates to the way DMs are used across contextual variations.