Alissa Hartig

Date of Award

Summer 8-30-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Applied Linguistics

Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 46 pages)


English language -- Grammar -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- Foreign speakers, English language -- Rhetoric -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- Foreign speakers, Academic writing -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- Foreign speakers




As more international students who are not expert users of English come to the United States to study at university, the field of teaching English for Academic Purposes grows. There are many important skills these international students must learn to become successful university students in America, but writing for academic purposes is of particular importance for these students to join the academic conversation in their respective disciplines. Corpus research has identified the grammatical features which are frequently found in different registers, and from this work it is known which structures are important in different types of academic writing. Grammatical structures frequently found in the academic register must be taught to these university-bound students. However, many English Language Learners (ELLs) are infrequently using, or inaccurately using, some of these grammatical features in their writing when compared to L1 writers. This study focuses on three of those under-used, and/or inaccurately used structures: passive voice, reduced relative clauses, and modal would.

At an Intensive English Language Program (IELP) in the Pacific Northwest, an experimental group of advanced ELLs were given extended instruction--extra time and practice--on these three features. The control group received the standard amount of time and practice students typically receive at this IELP. 25 essays from the experimental group and 44 essays from the control group were tagged for presence, accuracy, and appropriacy of the three grammatical features (passive voice, reduced relative clauses, and modal would). The experimental and control group essays were compared to see if the treatment instruction had a significant effect on the frequency, accuracy, and/or appropriacy of these features.

Results from an independent t-test on the frequency of passive voice showed no significant difference between the experimental group essays and the control group essays. Results from a Mann-Whitney U test on the frequency of reduced relative clauses and modal would showed no significant difference between the two groups. In regard to accuracy and appropriacy, a Mann-Whitney U test found no significant difference between the experiment group and control group.

The analysis of the two groups showed that students in the treatment group did use passive voice on average more than students in the control group, but it was not enough to be significantly different. The frequency of reduced relative clauses and modal would was low, yet accuracy and appropriacy of these features was very high for both groups.

These findings reveal that different, or perhaps more focused, approaches must be taken beyond extra time and practice to increase ELLs' use of passive voice, reduced relative clauses, and modal would in their writing.

Persistent Identifier