The senior English major students’ perception of cohesion in academic ielts writing task 2

Among the four language skills of English assessed by IELTS, academic

writing poses difficulties for candidates, and it is not an exception for Vietnamese testtakers. It is essential that the candidates should be aware of its evaluation in order to

achieve a high score in writing module. One criterion used to assess IELTS writing task

2 is ‘cohesion and coherence’. Cohesion refers to the use of linguistic devices to make

ideas in the text cohere, which, in turn, contributes to the coherence of the text as a

whole. This paper presents a study on Quang Nam University English major students’

perception of academic IELTS writing task 2, particularly its cohesion criterion. The

research suggests practical implications for teaching English major students academic

IELTS writing task 2 to effectively compose their piece of writing

pdf10 trang | Chia sẻ: hoa30 | Ngày: 30/08/2021 | Lượt xem: 182 | Lượt tải: 0download
Bạn đang xem nội dung tài liệu The senior English major students’ perception of cohesion in academic ielts writing task 2, để tải tài liệu về máy bạn click vào nút DOWNLOAD ở trên
114
THE SENIOR ENGLISH MAJOR STUDENTS’ 
PERCEPTION OF COHESION IN ACADEMIC IELTS 
WRITING TASK 2
Nguyễn Thị Trung1
Abstract: Among the four language skills of English assessed by IELTS, academic 
writing poses difficulties for candidates, and it is not an exception for Vietnamese test-
takers. It is essential that the candidates should be aware of its evaluation in order to 
achieve a high score in writing module. One criterion used to assess IELTS writing task 
2 is ‘cohesion and coherence’. Cohesion refers to the use of linguistic devices to make 
ideas in the text cohere, which, in turn, contributes to the coherence of the text as a 
whole. This paper presents a study on Quang Nam University English major students’ 
perception of academic IELTS writing task 2, particularly its cohesion criterion. The 
research suggests practical implications for teaching English major students academic 
IELTS writing task 2 to effectively compose their piece of writing. 
Key words: IELTS academic writing, cohesion, perception, criteria
1. Introduction
Nowadays, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) has 
become one of the most popular tests to candidates who would like to study abroad or 
find a job requiring English language skills. Getting a high score in this international 
exam is, therefore, the key to enable candidates to open the door to their future career. 
The IELTS consisting of four sub-tests in the skills of listening, reading, writing and 
speaking has two forms: The Academic module and the General Training module. The 
General Training reading and writing tests are less demanding than the corresponding 
Academic Module ones; however, the listening and speaking skills have the same 
requirements.
In this paper, the main focus is on the investigation into Quang Nam university 
English major students’ perception of cohesive devices in IELTS academic essays. Once 
the students’ perception is properly identified, teachers will have a better understanding 
of students’ attitudes as well as their knowledge about cohesive devices and thus can 
apply appropriate strategies with a view to assisting students in achieving a higher score 
for ‘cohesion and coherence’ criterion in their IELTS writing test. 
2. Research Methods 
The aim of the study is to identify the senior English major students’ attitudes 
as well as their awareness of IELTS writing task 2 in general and of cohesive devices 
1. ThS, Khoa Ngoại ngữ, Trường Đại học Quảng Nam
115
NGUYỄN THỊ TRUNG
in particular in order to find out their actual understanding about this criterion in the 
academic IELTS writing task 2. Questionnaires were used as an instrument to measure the 
extent of students’ attitudes towards academic IELTS writing task 2 and their conception 
of the nature of IELTS writing and cohesive devices since the use of questionnaire is 
comparatively convenient. Nunan (1992) mentions that the questionnaire allows the 
researcher to collect data in field settings, and the data themselves are more amenable to 
quantification than discursive data.
The questionnaire includes three parts: students’ personal information (from 
Question No. 1 to Question No. 7), detailed questions regarding academic IELTS writing 
task 2 (from Question No. 8 to Question No. 11), detailed questions related to cohesive 
devices in academic IELTS writing task 2 (from Question No. 12 to Question No. 20). 
They were delivered to 82 out of the total 91 students of two English classes: DT13TA01 
and DT13TA02 because 9 students were absent on the day the questionnaires were 
delivered. All the questionnaires were distributed and collected on the spot. 
The questionnaire was written in English with careful and clear instructions as 
well as guidance to make sure that the respondents could easily understand and give 
appropriate answers to the questions. To complete the questionnaire, students were 
carefully instructed and they were free to discuss so that the research could get higher 
accuracy, reliability and objectiveness. 
Table 1 below summarizes background information about the students including 
gender, age, years studying English as well as academic IELTS writing task 2.
Table 1. Students’ personal information
 Students’ personal
information
Category Number of
students
Percentage
Gender Male 7 8.5%
Female 75 91.5%
Age 21 11 13.4%
22 62 75.6%
23 9 11%
Years of studying English about 7 years 9 11%
about 11 years 73 89%
 Years of studying academic
IELTS writing task 2
about 3 years 10 12.2%
about 2 years 72 87.8%
3. Findings and Discussion
Of the 20 questions in the questionnaire, the first four have already been mentioned 
in the research method and the rest, 16 questions, subdivided into three main parts were 
taken into consideration in details in this section in the light of serving the research 
117
NGUYỄN THỊ TRUNG
Chart 1, 80.5% of the students realized grammatical range and vocabulary as one of 
the criteria while 51.2% of the participants viewed coherence and cohesion as one 
criterion. Moreover, only half of the students recognized lexical resource as one of the 
marking criteria and quite a small number of samples showed the students’ awareness of 
the fact that task response was one criterion. The data from the questionnaire revealed 
that students did not know much how their essays were marked. These figures were 
in accordance with the results obtained from the question No. 9 in which 21 out of 
82 students confessed that they sometimes paid attention to these criteria in academic 
IELTS writing task 2. 
Table 3. Students’ attention towards academic IELTS writing criteria
No Questions (%) Rate
9 Do you pay attention to these criteria
 (task achievement, coherence
 and cohesion, lexical resource,
 grammatical range and accuracy)
 while you practice academic IELTS
?writing task 2
Yes
61
74.4%
No
0
0%
Sometimes
21
23.1%
In terms of the students’ own perception of the level of difficulty related to marking 
criteria they faced when producing academic IELTS writing task 2, over half of the 
students (30.5% for grade 1 and 25.6% for grade 2) argued that grammatical range and 
accuracy were the most challenging in their writing. Failing to use cohesive devices 
to connect and arrange ideas in English logically in order to produce a coherent text 
occupied the second position, with 25.6% for grade 1 and 26.8% for grade 2, making 
up 52.4% of the participants’ choices. Around 46.3% of the students (19.5% for grade 
1 and 26.8% for grade 2) stated that they struggled with lexical resource. Additionally, 
just under half of the participants came up with obstacles in task response. Due to time 
constraint, some students could not present their arguments in 250 words and more. It 
goes without saying that competent writers must also be good time managers. If they 
know how to allocate their writing time suitably, they can finish the IELTS writing task 
successfully.
Table 4. Students’ perception of academic IELTS writing criteria
No Questions Rate: 1= the most difficult
 the least difficult = 4 
1 2 3 4
10 What criterion do you think is the 
most difficult to achieve?
119
NGUYỄN THỊ TRUNG
participants knew that substitution was one kind of cohesive devices while 23 out of 82 
students (28%) considered reference as a cohesive device. A small amount of the students 
recognized ellipsis as a cohesive device. As a result, 41.5% of the respondents confessed 
that they always or often made errors regarding cohesive devices in their writing. 54.9% 
of the participants claimed that they sometimes misused cohesive devices. Just 3 out of 
82 students said that they rarely made mistakes concerning cohesive devices.
Table 5. Students’ perception of cohesive devices
No Questions Rate (%)
12 In your opinion, which of the following 
are cohesive devices? 
 Reference
23
28%
 Substitution
31
37.8%
Ellipsis
12
14.6%
 Conjunction
53
64.6%
Lexical 
cohesion
42
51.2%
13 Do you think that using cohesive devices 
as much as possible can help you to get 
high marks?
Yes
62
75.6%
No
1
1.2%
Somewhat
19
23.1%
14 Do you know thoroughly the meaning of 
each cohesive device you use and how it 
should be used in a sentence accurately?
Yes
38
46.4%
No
1
1.2%
Somewhat
43
52.4%
The data from the questionnaires also elicited the subjects’ view of the frequency 
of cohesive device use in relation to the writing quality. A large proportion of students 
(75.6%) believed that using cohesive devices as much as possible enabled them to get 
high marks. About under a quarter of the participants showed their tentative attitudes to 
the matter. Only one student stated that using a lot of cohesive devices could not help 
him to get a high score. 
With reference to the students’ application of cohesive devices, Table 5 indicates 
that a considerable number of respondents (52.4%) had a neutral attitude towards their 
competence of using cohesive devices. Even one participant confessed that he did not 
know the meaning of each cohesive device he was using and how it should be accurately 
used. Just under a half of the students thought that they were able to use cohesive devices 
appropriately. Consequently, 62.2 % of the students could partially identify cohesive 
device errors and nearly half of them could partially correct their errors as shown 
in Table 6. Appropriately 7.3% of the participants revealed that they were unable to 
recognize cohesive device errors and more than 13% of them could correct the errors 
by themselves. Just about a third of the respondents could identify and correct cohesive 
device errors in their IELTS writing. 
122
THE SENIOR ENGLISH MAJOR STUDENTS’ PERCEPTION OF COHESION...
process of writing such as accurately using a wide range of grammar structures and 
lexical resources, cohesive devices to tie ideas to produce a coherent essay. Although 
good awareness of the marking criteria plays an important role in achieving a high 
score, the English major students seemed unknown about the IELTS writing criteria 
including coherence and cohesion. Particularly, a small number of the students were 
able to recognize ellipsis as a cohesive device. As a result, gaining insight into students’ 
perception of cohesive devices may serve as background information which enables 
teachers to have an overall outlook on students’ writing competence and to be able 
to develop an effective syllabus designed with flexible strategies in IELTS academic 
writing. 
In addition, students should have a deep theoretical insight into the marking criteria 
of an IELTS writing, of which cohesion and coherence should be emphasized. More 
importantly, students should know how to make their writing cohesive and coherent 
not only by using some familiar cohesive devices beyond the sentence boundary 
appropriately, but by various other ones as well. In other words, students need to be 
equipped with comprehensive knowledge of cohesive devices, especially unfamiliar 
ones like substitution, ellipsis, conjunction to be able to use them properly and flexibly 
in their writing and avoid misusing or overusing them. Simultaneously, learners of 
English ought to acquire a large number of collocations to be able to produce their ideas 
accurately, fluently and naturally, making their text more academic and better to read.
It is hoped that the findings of this study can be applied as a guideline in a classroom 
in which the teachers of English would like to raise students’ awareness of the importance 
of cohesion and coherence in their writing in relation to task response, lexical resource 
and grammatical range and vocabulary. 
REFERENCES
[1] Bagheri, M. S. (2016), EFL Graduate Students’ IELTS Writing Problems and Students’ 
and Teachers’ Beliefs and Suggestions Regarding Writing Skill Improvement, 
Journal of Language Teaching and Research, Vol. 7, No. 1, 198-209.
[2] Halliday, M. A. K. & Hasan, R. (1976), Cohesion in English, London: Longman.
[3] Halliday, M. A. K. Revised by C.M.I. M Matthiessen (2014). An Introduction to 
Functional Grammar. Fourth Edition. Routledge. 
[4] Mickan, P. & Slater, S. (2003), Text Analysis and the Assessment of Academic 
Writing, IELTS Research Reports, Canberra ACT: Australia, 5, 59-88.
[5] Mickan, P. & Motteram, J. (2009), The Preparation Practices of IELTS Candidates: 
Case Studies. IELTS Research Reports, Canberra ACT: Australia, 10, 223-243.
[6] Moghaddam, S. (2010), IELTS Preparation Practices: Argumentative Writing 
123
NGUYỄN THỊ TRUNG
Development, The Journal of Asia TEFL Vol. 7 No. 2, 313-353.
[7] Nakamura, A. (2009), Construction of Evaluative Meanings in the IELTS Writing: an 
Intersubjective and Intertextual Perspective, Ph. D Thesis, University of Wollongong.
[8] Nunan, D. (1992), Research Methods in Language Learning, Cambridge University 
Press. 
[9] Panahi, R. (2015), The Strengths and Weaknesses of Iranian IELTS Candidates in 
Academic Writing Task 2, Theory and Practice in Language Studies, Vol. 5, No. 5, 
957-967 
NHẬN THỨC CỦA SINH VIÊN NĂM CUỐI CHUYÊN NGÀNH TIẾNG 
ANH VỀ PHƯƠNG TIỆN LIÊN KẾT TRONG BÀI VIẾT HỌC THUẬT 
IELTS TASK 2 
NGUYEN THI TRUNG
Quang Nam University
Tóm tắt: Trong bốn kỹ năng ngôn ngữ tiếng Anh trong bài thi IELTS, viết học thuật 
gây khó khăn cho thí sinh, và thí sinh Việt Nam cũng không phải ngoại lệ. Thí sinh cần 
nắm được cách đánh giá bài thi để phần viết đạt điểm cao. Một tiêu chí được sử dụng 
để đánh giá bài viết IELTS task 2 là "tính liên kết và tính mạch lạc". Tính liên kết đề cập 
đến việc sử dụng các phương tiện ngôn ngữ để kết nối ý tưởng trong bài viết, góp phần 
tạo nên tính mạch lạc của bài viết. Bài báo trình bày nghiên cứu về nhận thức của sinh 
viên chuyên ngành tiếng Anh tại trường Đại học Quảng Nam về bài viết học thuật IELTS 
task 2, đặc biệt là tiêu chí liên kết. Bài báo đưa ra một số đề xuất mang ý nghĩa thực tiễn 
đối với việc dạy viết IELTS task 2 cho sinh viên chuyên ngành tiếng Anh nhằm giúp sinh 
viên viết bài luận hiệu quả. 
Từ khóa: Bài viết học thuật IELTS, tính liên kết, nhận thức, tiêu chí

File đính kèm:

  • pdfthe_senior_english_major_students_perception_of_cohesion_in.pdf