Education Journal

A Sociolinguistic Study of the Argumentative Writing of Chinese Students

1999.第27卷第2期(Vol. 27 No. 2).pp. 43–64


A Sociolinguistic Study of the Argumentative Writing of Chinese Students


Kerri-Lee KRAUSE & Dan O’BRIEN


This study examines the argumentative writing, in English, of Chinese senior secondary school students from a sociolinguistic perspective. Students in the sample wrote persuasive essays which were analysed for evidence of writers' ability to demonstrate audience awareness through the use of metadiscourse markers. Audience awareness is accepted as a major determinant of quality in argumentative writing, serving as an indicator of writing maturity. Findings suggest that frequency and range of metadiscourse features are indicative of L2 writers' audience awareness. Our examination showed that the majority of students demonstrated a cursory awareness of alternative views or were entirely egocentric in their focus.

A secondary concern of this study is the relationship between adolescent L2 writers' audience awareness and the quality of their compositions. Findings suggest a moderate relationship between these two variables. The paper takes account of the arguments of those who challenge the stereotypical views of Asian L2 writers as reproductive, rote learners, rarely engaging in critical thought and writing. It concludes with implications for teaching writing to L2 students at secondary and tertiary levels, both in Australia and overseas.