The Texture of Inefficiently Self-Regulating ESL Systems

The Texture of Inefficiently Self-Regulating ESL Systems

Terence Patrick Murphy (Yonsei University, Korea)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-895-6.ch026
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This chapter addresses the question of how to measure the student’s English as a second language (ESL) textual sophistication. It suggests that the second language text is an inefficiently self-regulating system, at the levels of grammar, lexis and logico-rhetorical structure. Learner texts use a narrow or even fixed set of key lexical phrases; they deploy cohesive ties that bind the text incorrectly, they omit cohesive ties altogether, or redundantly retain items that are easily recovered from the situational context. Following a review of some typical second language cohesion problems, the chapter offers an analysis of the emergent texture of four versions of the same paper, each written by a different ESL student. The results suggest that a learner text-maker is unable to perceive the ineffective choices in texts written at levels of sophistication higher than those he or she is capable of creating.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Markedness: According to Roman Jakobson, “the general meaning of a marked category states the presence of a certain property A, the general meaning of the corresponding unmarked category states nothing about the presence of A and is used chiefly but not exclusively to indicate the absence of A (quoted in Greenberg, 1966, p. 25). For example, in some environments, actor is to actress as “male thespian” is to “female thespian.” However, in other environments, actress is neutralized by the term actor because actress can only refer to female thespians. In addition, actress is morphologically the more complex of the two terms, requiring the addition of an extra morpheme. For this reason, within the terms of the unmarked/marked distinction, actor is unmarked, whereas actress is marked (Clark & Clark, 1978, p. 231, Greenberg, 1966, p.26). In narrative fictions, an extremely important distinction may be made between chronologically ordinary narratives such as romances and marked order narratives such as detective fictions and Gothic horror stories. There is also the important secondary distinction between the marked character and the other characters, who are all unmarked (Murphy, 2004, 2005b).

Logico-Rhetorical Structure: In functional grammar, the logico-rhetorical structuring of a text refers to the intermediate range of choice situated between the grammar and the lexis. In conjunction with the punctuation, it is this intermediate range of choice that is used when configuring the text’s logico-rhetorical structure. The choice of different logico-rhetorical structuring allows the same textual information to be presented in a definite (but not unlimited) range of alternative textualizations. In the terms of Robert De Beaugrande (1980), the logico-rhetorical structure of the text is a form of procedural knowledge. In well-organized texts, this procedural knowledge is “formatted as programs designed to run in specifically anticipated ways” (p. 65). One example of a program designed to run in an anticipated way is the situation-problem-solution-evaluation structure. It follows that an inefficient text runs in unanticipated or unpredictable ways.

Comment: A sentence that picks up the given information of the previous sentence and elaborates it in some way.

Move: A sentence that picks up the new information of the previous sentence and extends it in some way.

Inefficiently Self-Regulating System: A text is an inefficiently self-regulating system when its grammatical, lexical and logico-rhetorical ties are improperly configured. As a result of this, the textual directives lead the reader into the discovery of ambiguities, discrepancies, paradoxes, contradictions and redundancies. While the reader’s first language knowledge may sometimes be enough to recover the intended meaning, some of these misused or missing directives will result in the reader’s failure to understand (portions of) the text. All poorly written texts, including the specific subset of second language texts, may be regarded as inefficiently self-regulating systems.

Self-Regulating System: First proposed by Wolfgang Iser in The Act of Reading (1978), the concept of the text as a self-regulating cybernetic system was more precisely formulated by Robert De Beaugrande in Text, Discourse and Process (1980). According to De Beaugrande, “The stability of the text as a cybernetic system … is characterized by its connectivities, i.e. unbroken access among the occurring elements of the participating language systems.” In other words, a text will contain “sequential connectivity of grammatical dependencies in the surface text,” “conceptual connectivity” and “planning connectivity” (p. 17). In a study of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Murphy (2005a) extended the concept of the self-regulating textual system to the nineteenth century novel by explaining how a reader might process the discrepancies discovered in the clash of directly quoted character speech. These discrepancies are resolved by means of the conversation monitoring of the narrative voice.

Texture: In Halliday and Hasan’s Cohesion in English (1976), “a text has texture, and this is what distinguishes it from something that is not a text. It derives this texture from that fact that it functions as a unity with respect to its environment” (p. 2). The texture of any text is constituted by the five major cohesive ties: those of reference, substitution, ellipsis, conjunction and lexis.

Emergent Texture: In Murphy (2001), the concept of emergent texture is defined as “the manner in which interlanguage texts gradually extend their use and control of the grammatical means used to establish lexical and textual cohesion” (p. 154). The more refined definition utilized in this chapter is that emergent texture refers to a given text’s inefficient utilization of the full set of grammatical, lexical, and logico-rhetorical ties. In this sense, an analysis of the state of the emergent texture of a second language text is one measure of its distance from a reconfigured first language textualization of the same information.

Complete Chapter List

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List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Andrew Lian
Felicia Zhang, Beth Barber
Chapter 1
Gabriella Brussino, Cathy Gunn
A theoretically driven and technology enhanced approach to second language acquisition at beginners level is illustrated through the description of... Sample PDF
Australasian Language Learners and Italian Web Sites: A Profitable Learning Partnership?
Chapter 2
Michael Fitze
This chapter reports on a comparative study of face-to-face (FTF) and written electronic (WE) conferences as pre-writing activities in the English... Sample PDF
Assessing the Benefit of Prewriting Conferences on Drafts
Chapter 3
Joel Bloch, Cathryn Crosby
This chapter discusses the use of blogging in a beginning level academic writing course. Blogging was used in this writing course both as a means of... Sample PDF
Blogging and Academic Writing Development
Chapter 4
Robert Ariew, Gulcan Erçetin, Susan Cooledge
This chapter introduces second language reading in hypertext/hypermedia environments. It discusses the development of a template to annotate reading... Sample PDF
Second Language Reading in Hypertext Environments
Chapter 5
Leo Kam-hung Yu
The consciousness-raising approach to grammar teaching aims to provide opportunities for students to identify some grammatical components through... Sample PDF
Application of Online Questionnaires in Grammar Teaching
Chapter 6
Diane Huot, France H. Lemonnier, Josiane Hamers
This chapter presents the key findings of a longitudinal study conducted with secondary school students over a period of five years to determine... Sample PDF
ICT and Language Learning at Secondary School
Chapter 7
David Barr
This chapter reports on the results of a study undertaken to gauge what difference computer technology makes to grammar learning. Unlike other... Sample PDF
Computer-Enhanced Grammar Teaching
Chapter 8
Luba V. Iskold
This study examines the effects of listening tasks performed by second-semester learners of Russian. Two video viewing conditions are investigated... Sample PDF
Research-Based Listening Tasks for Video Comprehension
Chapter 9
Linda Jones
This study addresses the views of 9 students on the amount of invested mental effort (Salomon, 1983a) needed to effectively process multimedia... Sample PDF
Invested Mental Effort in an Aural Multimedia Environment
Chapter 10
Kenneth Reeder, Jon Shapiro, Margaret Early, Maureen Kendrick, Jane Wakefield
This chapter describes the first year of research on the effectiveness of automated speech recognition (ASR) for ESL learners in the early school... Sample PDF
A Computer-Based Reading Tutor for Young Language Learners
Chapter 11
Eva Lindgren, Marie Stevenson, Kirk P.H. Sullivan
In this chapter an instructional format, Peer-Based Intervention (PBI) using computer keystroke logging is investigated as a computer technology to... Sample PDF
Supporting the Reflective Language Learner with Computer Keystroke Logging
Chapter 12
Jörg Roche, Julia Scheller
The present study is situated in the context of cognitive aspects of language processing as it focuses on the learning and teaching of grammar in... Sample PDF
Grammar Animations and Cognition
Chapter 13
Hazel Morton, Nancie Davidson, Mervyn Jack
This chapter describes the design of a speech interactive CALL program and its evaluation with end users. The program, SPELL (Spoken Electronic... Sample PDF
Evaluation of a Speech Interactive CALL System
Chapter 14
Maliwan Buranapatana, Felicia Zhang
This chapter reports on a study which evaluates the effect of a language teaching approach called the Somatically-Enhanced Approach (Zhang, 2006)in... Sample PDF
Pedagogy Meets Technology in the Somatically-Enhanced Approach
Chapter 15
Xinchun Wang
This study explores the effect of two training paradigms for learning Mandarin tones in pedagogical contexts. Eighteen beginning learners of Chinese... Sample PDF
Training for Learning Mandarin Tones
Chapter 16
Nattaya Puakpong
This chapter examines the effect of an individualized Computer-Enhanced Language Learning Listening Comprehension Program (MMExplore) on students’... Sample PDF
An Evaluation of a Listening Comprehension Program
Chapter 17
Terence C. Ahern
Authentic experiences encourage the student to cognitively engage the content by actively trying to make sense and to integrate the experience. This... Sample PDF
CMC for Language Acquisition
Chapter 18
Shannon Johnston
A task-based approach to e-mail provides a sound pedagogical orientation for real language interactions between learners and native speakers. The... Sample PDF
A Task-Based Design for Integrating E-Mail with FL Pedagogy
Chapter 19
Margarita Vinagre, Maria Lera
In this chapter we analyze the role that error correction plays in fostering language development via e-mail tandem exchanges. In order to do so, we... Sample PDF
The Role of Error Correction in Online Exchanges
Chapter 20
Stella K. Hadjistassou
This study reports on a culturally-transforming group activity using asynchronously-mediated forums on the “discussion board” of Blackboard Academic... Sample PDF
Emerging Feedback in Two Asynchronous ESL Writing Forums
Chapter 21
Martina Möllering, Markus Ritter
One key theme in the area of computer-assisted language learning has been the potential of computermediated communication (CMC) for the language... Sample PDF
CMC and Intercultural Learning
Chapter 22
Claudia Finkbeiner, Markus Knierim
Research on CALL environments that explicitly focuses on the development of strategic competence is almost non-existent. This chapter reports on an... Sample PDF
Developing L2 Strategic Competence Online
Chapter 23
Faridah Pawan, Senom T. Yalcin, Xiaojing Kou
This research is an exploratory study of student variables that mediate collaborative engagement in online discussions. More directly, the research... Sample PDF
Interventions and Student Factors in Collaboration
Chapter 24
Rolf Kreyer
Although corpus linguistic methods and research have had a considerable impact on language teaching in the last few decades, the corpus is still... Sample PDF
Corpora in the Classroom and Beyond
Chapter 25
Angela Chambers, Martin Wynne
Since the early 1990s, researchers have been investigating the effectiveness of corpora as a resource in language learning, mostly creating their... Sample PDF
Sharing Corpus Resources in Language Learning
Chapter 26
Terence Patrick Murphy
This chapter addresses the question of how to measure the student’s English as a second language (ESL) textual sophistication. It suggests that the... Sample PDF
The Texture of Inefficiently Self-Regulating ESL Systems
Chapter 27
Hayo Reinders, Noemí Lázaro
This chapter discusses the results of a study into the use of technology in the specific pedagogical setting of self-access centers. As part of the... Sample PDF
Technology in Support of Self-Access Pedagogy
Chapter 28
Stephen Alan Shucart, Tsutomu Mishina, Mamoru Takahashi, Tetsuya Enokizono
Unlike most CALL labs that are purchased from a vender and employ either generic or commercial CALL software and technologically untrained teachers... Sample PDF
The CALL Lab as a Facilitator for Autonomous Learning
Chapter 29
Junichi Azuma
This chapter describes how the synthesized English speech sound generated by a commercial TTS engine (Pentax “VoiceText”) is utilized within a CALL... Sample PDF
Applying TTS Technology to Foreign Language Teaching
Chapter 30
Yuko Kinoshita
This chapter presents a descriptive report on a video chat project undertaken in early 2006 at the University of Canberra, Australia using iChat.... Sample PDF
Using an Audio-Video Chat Program in Language Learning
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