The Use of Discourse Markers in L2 Writing along the Novice-Expert Continuum
The correct use of discourse markers is one of the key indicators of language proficiency in L2 writing, therefore developing a good command of discourse markers, often referred to as cohesive devices, is now viewed by researchers and language teachers as an integral part of foreign language acquisition. This study seeks to empirically explore the interconnection between a learner’s level of professional competence (ranging from Novice to Expert) and their strategies for using discourse markers in written English. To find out how these strategies evolve along the Novice-Expert continuum two types of analysis – quantitative and qualitative – were carried out on the basis of a corpus of 98 essays written by Russian learners of English as a foreign language. The research findings show that converging strategies prevail in the use of discourse markers, particularly sequencing ones. Divergence occurs only at higher levels of competence as the learner progresses on the Novice-Expert scale and, in parallel, moves from academia to a professional environment. This study has significant implications for ESAP teaching, content and language integrated learning, and mastering English as a medium of instruction. The study findings can be seen as contributing to language teaching and learning in an international context.