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English information packaging constructions in Vietnamese students' essays




Nguyen, Nhat, author
Delahunty, Gerald, advisor
Becker, Anthony, committee member
Correa, Maite, committee member

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Mastering English information packaging constructions is essential for Vietnamese students in language departments in universities and colleges in Hanoi. Previous research on English grammatical constructions has focused on the analysis of the structure at word and sentence level. The present study aims to investigate the way Vietnamese students use English information packaging constructions (subject-dependent Inversions, clefts, passives, existentials, and extrapositions) in their essays. The study is intended to examine the structures the students used and the syntactic and pragmatic errors they made. The following research questions were addressed: "How do Vietnamese students use the five English information constructions which were taught in grammar lessons in their essays?" "What are the common syntactic and pragmatic errors they made while using these constructions?" Fifty first year students of Hanoi University participated in this investigation. A writing test served as the principal tool to collect data. The results show that the students used passive, cleft, existential, and extraposition structures, but they did not use the subject-dependent inversion construction in their writing. The results also show that the students made a small number of syntactic errors; however, they made a wide range of pragmatic errors, probably on account of rather limited instruction on how to use these English structures pragmatically. These findings suggest that to help Vietnamese students use English grammatical constructions accurately and appropriately in various contexts, the inclusion of pragmatic features into the teaching and learning of English grammar is essential.


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