Sentence structure as a measure of writing proficiency : an analysis of ESL learners' compositions at a desegregated school in the Mahikeng Area Office
In recent years there have been concerns regarding the educational attainments and literacy levels of learners in South African schools. Using Hallidayan grammar (Halliday, 1994; 1987), the current study investigated the writing proficiency of Grade 12 English Second Language (ESL) learners in a desegregated school. Unlike their peers in township and rural schools, these learners have acquired conversational fluency as a result of learning in English quite early in their schooling. According to Clachar (2003), the writer who uses a strategy of clause-chaining, linking paratactic and hypotactic clauses to form longer sentences, realises a more oral register and, conversely, the writer who uses a strategy that uses clauses so that they are embedded, employs a more academic register. On index of hypotaxis, the results of the study indicated a high presence of compound and complex sentences formed by using subordination. Embedded clauses that are associated with advanced writing skills were nonexistent. It was concluded that the participants had acquired conversational fluency but had not yet acquired the writing proficiency levels that are required for academic writing.
- Humanities