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The Acquisition of Discourse Proficiency

A Study of the Ability of German School Students to Produce Written Texts in English as a Foreign Language

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Alasdair Archibald

This study is a descriptive, error analytical approach to the problem of the construction of texts by school learners of English. It aims to describe the similarities and differences between short texts produced by different levels of learners of English in the German Gymnasium and those produced by a comparable group of native speakers (British school students). The analysis is carried out both in terms of discourse errors, content, and text structure (cohesion and coherence). It deals with the question of whether students of the Gymnasium are prepared by their English classes to produce texts in English and argues that the sentence based model of teaching prevalent in this school system is a hindrance to this acquisition of discourse proficiency.
Contents: The notion of text - Competence, proficiency, and discourse - Learner's errors - The analysis of discourse errors, the analysis of discourse structure - The teaching of discourse.