Cohesion and Coherence in Children's Written English: Immersion and English-only Classes
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Cohesion and Coherence in Children's Written English: Immersion and English-only Classes

Abstract

This study investigates the nature of cohesion, coherence, content, and grammar emergent in children 's essays, with a greater emphasis given to the understanding of cohesion and coherence. Conceptual definitions of these constructs are summarized based on prior research. The measurement of these constructs is operationalized into a picture-based narrative writing task for elicitation and scoring criteria for quantification. 192 first and second graders from an immersion program and English-only classes participated in the study. The analysis uses percentages, correlations, multiple regression, and qualitative analyses. Main findings include the following: (a) the measurement of cohesion and coherence can be operationalized; (b) referential and lexical cohesion correlate highly with the overall writing quality defined as the sum of the ratings of coherence, content, and grammar; (c) ellipses and substitution show a weak correlation with the overall writing quality; (d) lexical and referential cohesion are significant predictors of coherence while other types of cohesion are not; (e) dominant reference types are pronominal forms and proper nouns, and prominent types of conjunctive relation are temporal and additive; and (f) the most common error in cohesion is inaccurate reference. The substance and method of this study can provide a foundation for investigating subsequent topics with latent variables and different linguistic backgrounds and grade levels.

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