Analysis of the Topical Structure of Composition Written by Taiwanese Students

Chia-Ying Chang, National Chung Cheng University, Chiayi County

Abstract: This study attempted to describe and analyze how the rhetoric pattern and topical structure employed by Taiwanese senior-high school students. The research materials were descriptive essays gathered from 100 senior high school students. 96 samples were selected and were given a quantitative analysis first, to compute the overall frequency of occurrence of different rhetoric patterns. Then, 35 samples were selected as high-rated (15 samples) and low-rated essays (20 samples) according to the grades given by two teachers. In the follow-up analysis, 35 written texts were closely examined by utilizing the Topical Structure Analysis proposed by Lautamatti (1987), which examines the semantic relationship between discourse topics and sentence topics and provides insight into the internal coherence in paragraphs. The researcher investigated the types of progressions that are commonly used in the paragraph, and described how these progressions are carried out differently in highrated essays and low-rated essays. The result indicated that students preferred deductive rhetoric pattern to inductive rhetoric pattern. As for the result of topical structure analysis, the findings revealed that low-rated essays often lacked parallel progressions. In addition, more sequential progressions which were indirectly linked to the discourse topic were identified in low-rated essays. Although no salient difference in the frequency of extended parallel progressions employed in high-rated and low-rated essays, the extended parallel progression were most found in conclusion paragraph in high-rated essays. Furthermore, high-rated essays developed fewer topics than low-rated essays so as to maintain the focus of the essay. That is, proficient writers may exhibit better competence in maintaining the topic continuity in their compositions. In sum, the use of thematic progressions is found to have effect on the coherence in writing. The findings of the study can help EFL writing instructors better understand the nature and characteristics of the written text produced by EFL beginning writers. According to the findings, teachers are suggested to investigate distinctive features of rhetoric patterns preferred by students. Moreover, EFL writing instructors are recommend adopting topical structure analysis to analyze students’ writings. Key words: topical structure analysis, coherence, rhetoric pattern, EFL writing

Introduction
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Background of the study According to Almaden (2006), a good writing requires logically consistent ideas in order for the writer to compose a coherent piece of discourse that is comprehensible to the intended audience may be (p. 127). However, for decades, instructors and students in Taiwan believe that a well-written composition lies in grammatically accuracy. Likewise, textbooks put major emphasis on teaching sentence-level grammar rather than coherence in a broader sense (Lee, 2002). It is obvious that students focus more on the lexical and sentence levels rather than on the discourse level. In other words, although students are able to produce a grammatically error-free composition, their compositions still lack a coherent structure. Some studies attributed the incoherence to different cultural backgrounds. Namely, under the influence of different cultural and linguistic traditions, learners perceived different rhetoric patterns in writing in their L1 and L2 (Silva, 1992). Contrastive rhetoric researchers have investigated the similarities and differences between Chinese and Westerns rhetoric. Kaplan’s (1966) indicated the distinctive features between different languages and rhetoric patterns. Anglo-European writers prefer logical argument while Chinese writers had difficulty follow a coherent structure due to the distinct difference between direct linear structure of English writing style and the spiraling pattern of Chinese rhetoric (Kaplan, 1966). In addition to rhetoric pattern, topic continuity and textual coherence are found differently between Western and Chinese rhetoric (Kirkpatrick, 1997; Spencer, Wang & Xing, 2008). To help explain the coherence in writing, Lautamatti (1987) proposed a textlinguistic research method that investigates how sentence topics combine and progress contributing to the coherence of a text. By utilizing Lautamatti’s (1987) topical structure analysis, this study is expected to identify the incoherence problems existed in compositions written by EFL learners so as to determine the attribution to incoherence. Purpose of the study There are three main purposes of this study. First, by examining the written texts of Taiwanese learners, the current study intends to investigate the preferred rhetoric patterns employed by Taiwanese EFL students. In addition, this research uses a descriptive-qualitative design to investigate how topic flows in learner’s written text by utilizing Lautamatti’s (1987) Topical Structure Analysis. Second, the comparison of the high-rated and low-rated essays in terms of thematic progression is expected to provide an insight of teaching certain type of thematic progression to enhance the coherence and fluency of students’ composition. Third, the finding will propose new pedagogical application in L2 writing, expecting to help teachers and textbook editors deal with the problem of incoherence existed in current Taiwanese EFL writings.
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Research questions 1. What were the rhetoric patterns employed in composition produced by Taiwanese EFL senior high school students? 2. Is there any difference in terms of thematic progression between high-rated compositions and low-rated compositions? 3. How were the thematic progression proposed by Lautamatti (1987) carried out in the compositions? Significance of the study Although many alternative writing approaches have been applied in real classroom in order to improve the learner’s writings, textual incoherence remains an unsolved problem encountered by many EFL writers. In spite of the fact that several studies explored ESL/EFL English compositions in light of discourse analysis in Taiwan, most of the subjects that the studies recruit are college-level or graduate students (Chang, 1997; Chi, 2004; You & Joe, 2002). Few studies put attention on senior high school EFL learners. Moreover, text-analysis research drew focus on the argumentative writing or academic writing, different genre such as descriptive writing are rarely discussed in previous research. Judging from previous findings, digression in composition can hamper the logical development of ideas and breaks the overall textual coherence. However, teachers fail to identify the digressions as a main problem in students’ essay, and few of them can address incoherence problems in a clear manner in responding to students’ essays. Since Lautimatti’s (1987) topical structure analysis is suggested as a more satisfying method for analyzing coherence, the current study aims to investigate to identify and explain topical progressions in senior-high school students’ descriptive compositions in terms of TSA. It is expected that the result and suggestions offered by this study can contribute to writing instruction.

Literature Review
Rhetorical structures in writing According to Kaplan (1966), each culture has its own paragraph orders that conceal an equally unique logic system since writers may be greatly influenced by cultural and language traditions. Since 1960, rhetoric scholars have investigated the similarities and differences between Chinese and Westerns rhetoric. By examining the traditional Chinese rhetoric structures, salient differences are found between Chinese and Western Rhetoric patterns. First distinction is the style of paragraph development. That is, Chinese writers prefer a delayed argument which starts with a broad topic and narrowing it down late in the writing. It is described as an inductive style of paragraph
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development. On the contrary, Western Writers tend to start with a clear argument and provide supporting ideas in the following part, which is assumed to be a deductive style (Spencer, Wang & Xing, 2008). The second is that English essays adopt great amount of discourse markers to signal the relations between sentences and paragraphs. Yet, Chinese language places emphasis on coherence of meaning rather than coherence of form (Spencer, Wang & Xing, 2008). The third distinctive feature is the frequency of topic transition. That is, Chinese tend to transit from one view of a situation to another. However, Western rhetoric reveals less frequency of transition of views or less topic changing. To conclude the difference in terms of rhetoric features between Chinese and Western rhetoric, three different features appear the most salient, including the paragraph development, conception of coherence, and frequency of topic transition. Paragraph development in English writing According to Wu & Rubin (2000), the placement of thesis statement can be used as a guideline in determining rhetoric features and the development of paragraph as well. Similarly, Kaplan (1966) distinguish English paragraph by identifying the placement of topic statement. One common type of development usually begins with a thesis statement and followed by a series of subdivions of that topic. The other is the reverse procedure, which states a series of examples and then relates the examples into a central statement at the end of the paragraph. The former type represents the deductive reasoning while the latter stands for the inductive reasoning. Likewise, Cahill (2003) defines a deductive essay as “initial thesis plus support” and an inductive essay as “support plus concluding thesis” (p.179). Therefore, the placement of thesis statement could be adopted as a means to identify the paragraph development of essay. Coherence in English writing According to Richards et al. (1985), coherence is interpreted as the relations which connect the meanings of utterances in a discourse or of the sentences in a text. Lee (2002) and Johns (1986), likewise, defines coherence as a feature internal to text, which lies beyond the surface structure of text. Lautamatti (1990) refers coherence to the organization of information in discourse and the development of the semantic content. In order to investigate coherence in text, Lautamatti (1987) explores the whole discourse in terms of the relations between discourse topic and subsequent topics. She proposed Topical Structure Analysis (TSA), which is one method writers have adopted to achieve coherence in writing English. TSA has been acknowledged
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by researchers in determining thematic development in writings. According to Almaden (2006), “The use of TSA as device in investigating the progressions in writing has been validated by several researchers as a clear demonstration of style and strategy in linking ideas within paragraphs and reflection of thought progression” (P.129).Furthermore, some researchers also indicated that investigation of topic in discourse is a more promising direction for ESL/EFL studies on coherence issue. (Schneider and Connor, 1990). Lautamatti’s (1987) Topical Structure Analysis (TSA) Topical structure analysis (TSA), developed by Lautamatti (1978, 1987), investigates how sentence topics combine and progress contributing to the coherence of a text. Through topical structure analysis, Lautamatti identifies three possible types of topic progressions, including parallel progression, sequential progression, and extended parallel progression. Simpson (2000) introduced another type of progression known as extended sequential progression. (See example below) The following quoted excerpt from Simpson (2000) shows how thematic progression is achieved. Italics are used to identify initial sentence element (ISE), which refers to the initially placed discourse material in sentences. Underlining is used to signal mood subject or grammatical subject and bold face is for the topical subject.
(1)

For example, one project I set involved the class devising a board game on a nursery rhyme or folk tale for younger children. (2) The class were reasonably enthusiastic about this until they realized that the younger children were fictional, (3) i.e., they would be playing these games with real children apart from each other. (4) I felt a certain amount of shame here, for I realized that the reason there would be no audience was because I had already decided that those games would not be .good enough. For public consumption. (5) I have frequently arranged real audiences for other classes, but only when I have been confident that the finished product would show the class, the school, and most shamefully of all, myself, in a good light. (6) My other error was not to impose a structure to the work of a deadline by which to finish. (7) Because these were low-ability students, my reasoning ran, they would need more time to complete the activity, (8)and in the way of these things, the children simply filled the available time with low- level busy work-colouring in the board, and making the dice and counters, rather than the more challenging activities such as negotiating group responsibilities, discussing the game or devising the rules. (Holden, 1995, cited from Simpson, 2000) In the excerpt provided, Simpson identified the occurrences of progressions based on Lautamatti’s proposed TSA as follows: (1)Parallel progression: In Clause 2, the noun phrase “the class” serves as the ISE, the mood subject, and the topical subject. In the following Clause 3, the pronoun “they” similarly functions as the three sentence elements. “They” refers to the
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In sum. TSA can be used as a device in determining the flow of the topics and shift of topic so as to examine the coherence in writings. judging from the table. As shown in the following graph. The following table is a sample graph of the sample writing quoted in Holden (1995). this investigation and that of Simpson’s (2002) revealed a fourth type of progression that can be identified as (4) extended sequential progression. This is then repeated as the topical subject of clause 4 and a number of clauses intervene between the first mention of the game and the second use as a topical subject. 6 . the relationship is parallel progression since these are consecutive clauses with the same topical subjects. This is an example of extended parallel progression because there are intervening clauses with different topical subjects between Clauses 2 and 7. The arrow shift from clause 1 to clause 4 is extended sequential progression while arrow shift from clause 3 to clause 4 indicates sequential progression. arrow of clause 4 to clause 5 is also a sequential progression. it is an example of parallel progression. (2)Extended parallel progression: In Clauses 7 and 8. Therefore. According to Simpson (2000).noun phrase “the class” in the preceding clause. but it is not the topical subject “Games” is part of the rheme element of Clause 3 and is taken as the theme or topical subject of Clause 4 as noun phrase “those games” And in Clause 4. he claims that the topic of the “game” is brought up for the first time in the first clause. the arrow indicates different types of topic progressions. 302). which is then used in Clause 5 using “real audiences” as the topical subject. The noun “games” is mentioned in Clause 3. Likewise. thus. the author mentions “audience”. Although Lautamatti suggested only three types of progression. but not as the topical subject. researcher can describe how the topics are shifted and how the paragraph flow and develop. making this an extended sequential progression. Extended sequential progression occurs when the rheme element of a clause is taken up as the theme of a nonconsecutive clause. after identifying the topic subjects of each paragraph. (3)Sequential progression: This progression is displayed from Clause 3 to Clause 4 and from Clause 4 to Clause 5. the information can be plotted into a table so as to visualize the topical progression of the paragraph. In the previous example given by Simpson (2000). the topical subjects “lowability students” and “the children” both pertain back to the topical subject “the class” in Clause 2. (p. And in Clauses 7 and 8.

The study of Phuwichit (2004) showed that there is a high frequency of occurrence of extended parallel progression. there seems to be a certain degree of relationship between topical structure and writing quality. The paper examined whether the same patterns of topical structure that are rewarded by assessors in student writing. Makinen (1992) applied Topical Structure Analysis to short compositions written in English by students learning English as a foreign language. Thus. Good writers are more homogeneous as a group in handling topics at higher levels than mid-quality and poor writers. The reverse is true of the lowest topical depths. The researcher’s analysis is that the participants could 7 . The analysis found that the accomplished essays contain similar patterns of topical structure to the high-rated student essays in Schneider and Connor's (1991) study.Figure 1. Good writers tend to return to higher topic levels at the end of their compositions more often than the writers in the other categories. Similarly. as reported by previous studies. Hoenish (2008) analyzed the topical structure of accomplished essays and compared the results with the topical structure tacitly preferred by assessors in their judgments of student essays. contain a large proportion of coherence-building sequential progression and a small proportion of parallel progressions. Parallel progression was found least frequently used. like the high-rated student essays. Meanwhile. are in fact used by professionals writing within a similar genre. The analyses show that good writers have the ability to develop the topics in their compositions more evenly across several topic levels than mid-level writers and especially the poor writers. Witte (1983) found that low-rated essays contain more sequential progressions than high-rated essays. The accomplished essays. The study of Almaden (2006) reveals that students used parallel progressions in their paragraphs and rated as high quality essays. However. Simpson’s (2000) visualization of topical progression of paragraph Related studies To describe the relationship between coherence and writing quality. some studies yield the opposite findings.

O. Therefore. The title of the writing task was “My Best Friend. & Chen.. T.write well-developed organized essays. the students were provided no interruption or guidance other than explanation of the prompt. Meanwhile.T. and had received general instruction of English paragraph structure.” The title was chosen for it is believed that writings would be easier if beginner writers are given a topic most related to their life experience. The English proficiency of the subjects was general. The following sections elaborate the detail of data collections and data analysis. students were expected to express as much as possible without constraints.. The coherence of each essay was assessed based on the English writing rating scale extracted from College Entrance Examination Center (Lin. the background of the research. K. a well established scoring system was adapted to evaluate the coherence in writing. including a brief description of subjects. The subjects were a total 100 third year students.I. They had undergone series of Chinese-English translation training. 1993). C.. raters and the criteria of classifying high and low-rated essays. The researchers also concluded that the varying result of the study could probably be due to different interpretations and ideas towards writing coherently. Scoring Scheme Since the writing samples would be assessed and be categorized into high-rated essays and low-rated essays. scoring scheme. who had learned English for at least five years. would be given in the first part. the research intends to explore the preferred topical structure employed in student’s descriptive writing. The Writing Task Students were asked to write an approximately 120 words descriptive composition in 50-minute class. Rating scale ranged from poor (0 point) 8 .S. as well as to investigate the differences in terms of thematic progression between high-rated and low-rated essays.. Subjects The study was conducted on four classes from a senior high school in Tainan in December in 2010. During the writing session. Lin. In this chapter. writing task. Huang. S. Methodology The current study intends to investigate how the rhetoric patterns are used by Taiwanese senior high school students.

The thesis statement is defined as a topic sentence that provides the stance. 3.1. 2. Five rhetoric patterns in total according of the placement of the thesis statement were classified in the following chart. the highest score of the essay would be 10 while the lowest score is 0. who at average have 7. Thesis in the beginning The topic sentence occurs somewhere paragraph (TB) in the introduction paragraph. in order to determine deductive or inductive rhetoric pattern of students’ essay. Location of thesis statement Definition 1. the essay was submitted to the third rater for another scoring.year teaching experience. Thesis in the end (TE) A delayed topic sentence appears in the conclusion paragraph. were recruited in this study for rating the writing samples produced by students. The final grade would be the average of the two similar scores. and the arrangement of supporting ideas. Consequently. Raters Two experienced senior-high school teachers. Thesis in the middle (TM) Topic sentence was postponed in the body. or it states the purpose of the essay and conveys the central or main idea of the text (Yang & Cahill. in very few cases. Thesis in the first sentence of Topic sentence appears as the first the beginning paragraph (TFB) sentence of the essay. 3. the low-rated essays comprised those graded below “3.5 Selecting High-Rated and Low-Rated Samples The result of the scores showed that 15 samples scored higher than 8 points while 20 samples were scored under 3 points. Each essay was scored by the two raters independently.” The Instrument for Analyzing Rhetorical Patterns The writing samples were examined in terms of their placement of thesis statement. composed of 15 essays. The current study modified the classification based on the study of Liu (2009) and Petric (2005) concerning to rhetoric pattern. or the point of view. the high-rated essays. If.1 The coding scheme of rhetoric patterns 9 . one grade was given higher than the other by two points. The raters were asked to rate solely on the ‘content’ and ‘organization’ rubrics since the focus of the current study lay in the topic development and textual organization. came from those graded “8” and above. and the final grade was the average of the score given by both raters. 2008). On the other hand.part of the essay 5. 4. Table 3. Thesis in the last sentence of the Topic sentence as the final sentence beginning paragraph (TLB) of the introduction paragraph.to excellence (4~5 points) in each rubric. Therefore. the belief.

The second step is to identify the progression type. which can be explained as “what is being said about the topic. a noun or a noun phrase expressed the topic. Examples excerpted from Lautimatti’s (1987) studies are presented as below.” The sentence subject “newborn infants” coincide with the grammatical subject of the sentence.” Therefore. (4) Although young animals are certainly at risk. (1) Newborn infants are completely helpless. which often. either “young animals” or “they” could be sentence topic. (3) There are many newborn children who are helpless. This section described how TSA is conducted by following the three-stage approach devised by Connor and Farmer (1990). including beginning. the topic of the main clause and that of the sub-clause has the same referent “young animals. middle. The remaining part of the sentence is the comment. sometimes for weeks or even months after birth. In example (1). the sentence topic is “newborn baby” and the comment is “is completely helpless. Identifying the sentence topic The first step of utilizing TSA is to identify the sentence topic. the main idea of the sentence is topic sentence. they very quickly develop the capacity to fend for themselves. Most of the time.” In other words. co-occurs with the grammatical subject of the sentence. Similarly. 10 .The Instrument for Analyzing Topical Structure The thematic progression was analyzed according to Topical Structure Analysis proposed by Lautamatti (1987) in order to examine the shift of topics and topic progressions and to investigate the text coherence. The topic sentence refers to “what the sentence is about. One way of conducting TSA is to follow the three steps proposed by Connor and Farmer (1990).” which refers to the idea discussed. The subject “newborn children” of the sub-clause served as the sentence topic. compared with the human infant.” The noun that express the sentence topic can occur in many places in a sentence. or end of the sentence. The last step is to chart the progression of sentence topics. The first step is to identify the sentence topics. The topical subject “newborn children” in Example (2) and (3) both appear in the middle of the sentence. sentence topic of Example (3) is not the grammatical subject but the discourse topic “newborn children. (Connor & Farmer. The sentence topic of Example (2) is “newborn children” instead of the grammatical subject “Biologists” of the main clause. (2) Biologists suggest that newborn children are helpless. In Example (4). 1990). but not always.

people may be asked about detergents. badge SAMPLE 4 (1) School is boring.Identifying the topical progression After identifying the sentence topic of each sentence. including parallel. I 2. 11 . Lautimatti conducted analysis based on three kinds of progression. 1. (2) Records show that they are sold in huge quantities – 11. Computer interviews 2. 1. (3) Designer chocolates often sell for nearly $30/lb. detergents SAMPLE 3 (1) I saw a strange man in the street. most teenagers have part-time jobs. (2) He was wearing a large badge. products 3. (3) As you know. (2) Using these. Parallel progression SAMPLE1 (1) Chocolates are a national craving. He 3. Chocolates 2. 1. Sample Passages Showing Three Types of Sentence Progressions and Coherence Diagram.2 pounds per capita per year. these candies Sequential progression SAMPLE 2 (1) Computer interviews are used by market researchers to assess product demand. Designer chocolates 4. (2) Many of my friends have motor cycles. (3) The badge was multicolored and gaudy. the second step is to identify the topical progression. and extended parallel. (4) It is obviously that these candies are America’s number one choice. sequential. many different products are analyzed (3) For example. Sample passages showing three types of sentence progression and coherent diagrams excerpted from Connor and Farmer (1990) are presented below. they 3.

(3) Japanese and Italians use the same nod to say no. 1. the researcher used the t-units as the unit of analysis and followed Scheidner and Connor’s (1991) guidelines for coding them. Americans 3. allowing clauses separated by coordinating conjunctions to be evaluated as complete topicbearing units. 2008. Thus. School 2. The first three sentences formed sequential progression and the first sentence and the last sentence formed an extended parallel progression. The guidelines 12 . the sentence topic in the first sentence and that in the last sentence had the same referent. whereas Sample 2 is another case of sequential progression. (Hoenish.1. parallel progression was where the sentence topics of successive sentences “have the same referent”. Meanwhile. Sequential progression referred the sentence topic is the rhematic part of the previous sentence. The rationale for using tunits was that they distinguish between simple and compound sentences. friends 3. (4) Body language is an important skill for international managers. In the current study. Americans nod their heads up and down. a coding guideline for topical structure analysis proposed by Schneider and Conner (1991) was adopted in this study. In order to determine the topical progression. p. where a comment of a sentence becomes the topic of the nest sentence. Sample 4 illustrated the sequential progression where the topic of each sentence is unrelated. the topic of each sentence has the same referent –chocolate.36). As shown in Sample 1.2 Sample passages showing three types of sentence progressions and coherence diagram. teenagers Extended parallel progression SAMPLE 5 (1) Body language varies from culture to culture. (Connor and Farmer. Body language 2. Japanese and Italians 4. Sample 5 showed the topical progression of extended parallel. Sample 3 shows a classic case of sequential development. the criteria of coding three progressions also follow the study of Scheider and Connor (1991). 1990) Based on Lautimatti. That is. the extended parallel progression is formed. Body language Table 3. (2) To say yes.

that is. Any imperative. science. the ideas of artists. science and art. housewives. Sequential Progression (S) 1.g. 3. scientists). or P. the contributions made by scientists. Extended Parallel Progression (Ex) Any sentence topic that is interrupted by at least one sequential topic before it returns to a previous sentence topic.g. a very small. or is a synonym of the immediately preceding sentence topic. Any sentence topic that is a derivation of an immediately preceding sentence topic (science. Table 3. old people). a nation. Any sentence topic that repeats a part but not all of an immediately preceding sentence topic (e.g. Any sentence topic that exactly repeats. 2. 5.. 4.. no artists). 4. not (1)-(4). 2. Any independent clause and all its required modifiers. the contributions made by artists). Any sentence topic that is a singular or plural form of the immediately preceding sentence topic. these groups.g. is a pronominal form. 2. Any non-independent clause punctuated as a sentence (as indicated by end punctuation). 3. Any sentence topic that is different from the immediately preceding sentence topic. art). referring to two different nations).. the ideas of scientists. multi-racial nation.g. Any sentence topic in which there is a qualifier that so limits or further specifies an NP that it refers to a different referent (e. children.3 Schneider and Connor (1991) Coding Guidelines for Topical Structure Analysis Charting the progressions of sentence topics 13 . 3. Any sentence topic that has the same head noun as the immediately preceding sentence topic (e. Parallel Progression (P) 1.were replicated below... Any sentence topic that is an affirmative or negative form of the immediately preceding sentence topic (e. Coding Guideline for Topical Structure Analysis T-Units (T) 1. Any sentence topic that is related to the immediately preceding sentence topic by a part-whole relationship (e. artists.

(4) I found her in the park. yellow fur and shorty limbs. I 6. The following text showed how the student’s essays were coded and how a diagram is plotted. I promised my parents that I would take care of her. (8) Of course. (5) When I first saw her at first sight. Sentence 3 and sentence 8 formed an extended parallel progression. sentence 2 and 3. it 3. it 2. Bingo 4. sentence 5 and 6 were identified as sequential progression. Bingo was my responsibility now. my parents disapprove of it. (2)It is my pet. (7) Eventually. sentence 4 and 5 were identified as parallel progression. which has accompanied me for ten years. 1 2 3 1. 1 1 1 2 2 3 2 1 Example 1contained eight sentences and three sentence topics. 14 . I 8. (6) Without any doubt.The last step of conducting TSA is to plot those sentence topics onto a graph for a visual presentation of the types of progression employed in the essay. my parents 7. shaking coldly in the box. I 5. (3)Bingo also is my best friend even though she is a dog. I then decided to bring it back. Procedure of Data Collection The following chart shows the procedure of data collection. Bingo Topic No. Clause Topical Depth No. (Phrase in bold refers to sentence topic) Example 1 (1) It has charming eyes. Sentence 1 and 2. Bingo. Sentence 3 and 4.

15 high-rated essays and 20 low-rated essays were analyzed in terms of topical structure analysis.100 subject were asked to write the essay titled “My best friend” 4 Essays that were written fewer than 10 clauses were eliminated. 15 . Essays were first analyzed in terms of the rhetoric pattern. After the grading process. 96 essays were collected and were given to two raters. essays were divided into high-rated and low-rated essays according to the given grades.

and explain its significance later on. it is important for descriptive essays to include a clear topic sentence in the introduction paragraph. one group of scholars suggested having a thesis statement in the beginning of the introduction paragraph. Descriptive essay is a wide-spread type that is intended to describe an object. The other scholars recommend a general to specific organization and have the topic sentence appear at the end of the introduction paragraph. to create a clear pattern of organization in descriptive essays. an introduction should work from general to specific. two more different placements of topic sentence were also investigated in students’ essays. Oshima & Hogue (2007) declare that the topic sentence of a descriptive paragraph should name the topic. according to the writing guidelines provided by Roane State Community College. That is. Second. an even. a thesis statement is suggested to be included somewhere in the introduction part in order to identify thing or person discussed in the following paragraphs. The first one which thesis statement appears in the beginning sentence is regarded as Thesis in the first sentence of the beginning paragraph (TFB). The quantitative analysis presents the overall frequency of the rhetoric patterns used in students’ samples. (Yang & Cahill. Similarly. Three types of thesis placement were found in the current research. Richard Norquist (1987) in his book “ Passages: A Writer's Guide” indicates that descriptive writing should begin with a topics sentence that identifies the event or person. Another declare the topic sentence should be placed somewhere in the introduction part. Five rhetoric patterns according of the placement of the thesis statement were classified in the following chart. In conclusion. First. three placement of thesis statement in descriptive essays are suggested. the belief. According to many writing guide lines and textbooks. both quantitative and qualitative analyses are discussed. a descriptive essay is better start with a clear identification of the topic the writer is going to describe or discuss. Third.Table 3. or the point of view.4 Procedure of data collection Results & Discussion Rhetoric Pattern of Writing Samples In this section. The second type refers to the 16 . 2008). Besides. or a person. As to the placement of the thesis statement. The qualitative analysis describes how the rhetoric patterns were used in students’ samples. Descriptive usually follows introduction-bodyconclusion structure. It is important for descriptive writing to include interesting facts in introduction part so that the reader will continue reading the paper. Quantitative Analysis The thesis statement should provide the stance. or it states the purpose of the essay and conveys the central or main idea of the text. ending with a thesis sentence.

Qualitative Analysis This section discusses five rhetoric patterns. rhetoric pattern was indexed by the placement of thesis statement. thesis in the beginning paragraph (TB). Thesis-in-middle (TM) pattern combined both deductive and inductive patterns. Thesis in the last sentence 7 7% of the beginning paragraph (TLB) 4. Table 4. showed a deductive pattern. and TLB. and thesis in the end (TE). The differences of each rhetoric patterns as well as the arrangement of 17 . which place thesis statement in the middle of the essays (TM). followed by non-deductive and non-inductive rhetoric pattern (TM). Thesis in the first sentence 39 41% of the beginning paragraph (TFB) 2. TB. The last type refers to those writings with a delayed thesis statement in the end of the essays (TE). including TFB. Thesis in the end (TE) 3 3% Generally speaking. p. Table 4.1 The frequency of rhetoric patterns used in students’ writings Location of thesis statement Total Percentage (%) 1.1 illustrated the frequency of rhetoric patterns used in students’ writings. including thesis in the first sentence of the beginning paragraph (TFB). the thesis statement placed in the introduction paragraph. When the thesis statement appeared in the first paragraph. TB. Thesis-at-end (TE) pattern reflected an inductive pattern. (TB). Similarly to the explanation given by Cahill (2003). In the present essay. The third one which place thesis statement at the end of introduction paragraph is classified as Thesis in the last sentence of the beginning paragraph (TLB). Thesis in the middle (TM) 23 24% 5. TLB) were employed most frequently. A more detailed discussion of how the rhetoric patterns were carried out in students’ writing are presented in the following section. 179). Inductive pattern (TE) was the least used rhetoric pattern. The forth rhetoric pattern refers to a postponed thesis statement in the second paragraph. the findings indicated that the deductive pattern (TFB. a deductive essay means “initial thesis plus support” and an inductive essay means ‘support plus concluding thesis” (Cahill.thesis statement that is placed somewhere in the beginning paragraph. thesis in the middle (TM). thesis in the last sentence of beginning paragraph (TL). Thesis in the beginning 24 25% paragraph (TB) 3. it was regarded as deductive rhetoric pattern. Therefore. 2003.

1. the opening sentence was meanwhile the thesis statement of the whole essay that conveyed the central idea of the essay. The main idea was presented directly and explicitly as well. the more I saw my ignorance. Thesis in the first sentence of the beginning paragraph (TFB) The type that thesis statement appears in the first sentence of the beginning paragraph. Artest and I were known in elementary school. charming and active person. I would read some books and forget those which made me sad and failed. which are shown as follows.thesis statement are discussed below. Artest is very strong and he always wins in basketball game. Artest is a good man. 18 . Most students tend to use a direct and explicit way of opening an introduction like the following examples. The following passage is a typical type that straightly identifies the main idea of the essay. (Text 1) My best friend is books. Reading books not only increase my knowledge but also my vision. the person’s name was introduced at the beginning. (Text 2) The opening sentence identified the thing or person the author was going to describe in the following passages. His habit is very forthright but he is also impulsive. Therefore. (Text 3) Text 3 used the person’s name as the grammatical subject of the opening sentence. Several kinds of opening sentence were found in these samples. which is also the introduction of the whole essay. Slightly different to the previous examples that start with “my best friend”.” By reading good books. The name of the best friend was reinforced in the first place. was the most common type used by students. I like her because she had a kind heart to help people and she always had a good performance on her schoolwork. When it comes to my best friend. Daphne Wang was my best friend in senior high school. other verified ways of opening an introduction were found in other students’ samples. We all play basketball after school. she is a pretty. Beside the typical type such as Text 1 and Text 2 that explicitly identified the main topic. “He who makes a mistake makes nothing. When I was in bad mood. the more I learned. There is a saying goes. My best friend is Ron Artest.

(Text 5) Some students tend to use a more colloquial way to start the topic. I like her and view her as my best friend. Thesis in the beginning paragraph (TB) Thesis in the beginning paragraph refers to the thesis statement was placed somewhere in the beginning paragraph. I have my best friend who named Julie. Julie does everything a gentle heart and usually gives me some dessert to thank me that I take good care of her. we met again and became best friend from then on. Furthermore. It helped the reader to grasp the idea the author tried to convey in that passage. (Text 4) “When it comes to” was used often in student’s samples. She is really a coolest person I have ever met before. When I met Julie at the first time. Although we sometimes quarrel with some trifle 19 . She is good at art and design. Essays that write with a colloquial tone tend to consider the reader as a listener. At that time. The function of placing thesis statement in the beginning sentence is to identify the thing or person later illustrated as well as to help the reader grasp the main idea as soon as possible. I want to introduce one of my best friends. The stance of the writing has been transferred from the person being described to the reader. You will amaze what she ever said and done before. Like Text 5. the personal pronoun “you” appeared in the last sentence (you will amaze what she ever said and done before) of the paragraph. 39 out of 96. 2. Therefore. the essay would sound more like a letter or a transcript rather than a formal writing. I felt she is vivid. She always thinks differently with others. tend to place thesis statement in the first sentence of the introduction paragraph. who accompanies with me and get through many difficult time in my senior high school life. Her outstanding personality appeals me to meet her. As I entered to senior high school. she is also a good photographer. so does she. it was found that students tend to put thesis statement in the second or third sentence in the beginning paragraph.Her name is Annie. I remember that out first sight was in junior cram school. not best friend. we were just friend. They were often placed after a given definition of the topic or after the description of the person which would be discussed later. This section presents several texts with thesis statement placed somewhere in the beginning paragraph. Notably. Everyone has their friends and one of them is their best friend. It was indicated that most students. cute and optimistic. Hattie. Of course.

(Text 7) Text 7 is another type with a short opening about the significance of making good friends. When it comes to my best friend. No one in school never heard about him. As the proverb goes. With a short hair and black skin. and it is important for us to meet a good friend in our life time. Judy. the writer continued to describe the feature of his own best friend. Therefore. he must be Jack. Julie is good at Chinese and English. I need friend to help me and give me courage.” A best friend will give you a hand without hesitation on the right time. A friend can influence one person’s life a lot. She quickly relieved my anxiety and took me around to familiar the new place. needless to say. We often play basketball in the gym and do some interesting things our friendship is very staunch like stone that no one can break it. “A friend in need is a friend indeed. When I got along with her. He is 180 cm but just 50 kilogram. The thesis statement was delivered after giving an opening statement about “best friend”.but we will make peace with each other. He is so perfect and popular. (Text 9) 20 . straight nose and small mouth. I think that friend is essential in my life. I was afraid of the new environment because everything was new for me until I met the girl. For me. I had met my best friend in my life. the first friend I met at that day and the most important friend in my life. It was the day that we moved to the place which we live now. giving spiritual support for your injured heart. The girl is Judy. Jack. we will teach other which we aren’t good at. white skin. I will never forget the day we met together. an energetic girl who always can encourage someone else. (Text 8) After presenting his point of view about friends. And he has blue bright eyes. As far as I concerned. had not only had great sense of humor but also a thoughtful heart to those who needed help. I always can feel the energy come for her. she looks like a borned athlete who is good at any sports. who was one of the most famous students in my class. in the contrast. he was just like an idol for me. (Text 6) Text 6 is an example of TB. My best friend is a handsome boy that everyone called him Martin. I am cleaver at Chemistry and Math.

he can comfort the badmood friend to make his sadness go away. John. Thesis in the last sentence of the beginning paragraph (TLB) The last type of deductive rhetoric pattern is to postpone thesis statement at the end of the beginning paragraph. that student using proverbs or general definitions as opening statement is similar to Chinese writings. He is my best friend. In the sad time.Text 9 is a common type found in students’ samples. He can bring many laughs to our classroom. Chinese students rely on the fixed patterns such as proverbs and idioms. It is pretty similar to the following texts. it was found out that definition and proverbs were commonly used as an opening statement to introduce the following person they were going to discuss. the introduction should be ended with a thesis sentence. Therefore. a general to specific introduction is preferred in descriptive essays. Many students employed TB in their writings (25 out of 96). a slight difference between TFB and TB is that the opening statement employed in TB. The preference of Chinese students using proverbial reference in Chinese and English writings has been investigated by Wong (1992). he can let the boring class be more interesting. That is. In the class. 3. Chinese writers are encouraged to incorporate poems and proverbs in their writings (Wu and Robin. By examining the texts of TB. several sentences were employed to describe the best friend before the author turning to the thesis statement. Therefore. That is. He is a pistachio nut. He has a vigorous personality. As supported by some scholars. It can be related to the studies that indicate the preference of using proverbs in Chinese students’ writings. Young (1994) noted that the function of quoting Chinese poetry is to maintain an intimate and interpersonal relation in Chinese society. He found that the Chinese participants referred to Chinese proverbs frequently in Chinese as well as in English. According to Matalene (1985). The memory has remained vivid in my mind because of his handsome 21 . 2000) in order to achieve social harmony. (Text 10) In Text 10. Moreover. TFB cut into topic straightly and directly while TB indirectly introduces the main idea. Chen (1994) claims the usage of proverbs is rewarded for increasing the beauty of language. I will never forget such a valuable experience happening to me while I was a childlike junior high school student. I still feel embarrassed and cannot help but burst into crying and sorrowful. No matter when I recall this unforgettable experience. Proverbs were mostly used as an opening statement.

Those people are called “best friends. All in all. TB and TLB is the placement in introduction paragraph. try to think if you may still angry when you recall this thing after ten years. Samples using TLB is organized in two identical orders. As soon as I started to shout at him. Eason and I could learn more things that I can’t found in other people. like to postpone their thesis statement to the second paragraph. I realized how silly I am. 4. 24 out of 96. and followed by detailed supporting ideas in the later paragraphs. Needless to say. Eason is not the student who always got good grades in the exam or the most popular guy in our class. Eason is a drawer and an artist. One is to put a description of the person before the main idea. One day I fought with my classmates again because he used my pen without my permission. he is the only one person who told me to face my life optimistic. is my best friend in my life. (Text 11) Sometimes an experience or a story between the author and the best friend were stated before thesis statement is delivered. Thesis in the middle (TM) TM is the type that cannot be classified as deductive or inductive pattern since the thesis statement is placed in between. Few students employed TLB organization. “Friend” means the people who can let you open your mind and talk everything to him or her. From then on. Tom. Eason touched my shoulder and told me “Look before you leap.” One of my best friends is called Eason. It was a story. But in my view. Sometimes I would protect him when some people laugh his dream. Since we began to study in kindergarten. we might play with many children. the thesis statement is stated in the early stage. and try to solve any problem together. so I usually quarrel with other. whose nickname is Burgerking.” Suddenly. That is. only 7 out of 96. I was a student who always has a bad temper.face. people can’t live without friends. whom many people always tell him be realistic. His personality can stand my temper when I get angry and complained to him. (Text 12) 22 . we may find that only a few people can share your happiness and sorrow. these three patterns are still considered as deductive organization. Examples are shown as follows. The difference among TFB. The other is to firstly elaborate the process of how the author and the best friend become friends. Until we got elder. It is noteworthy that many students. Eason and I became the best friends.

we entered the same senior high school unexpectedly. However. described how they met each other. when we talked to each other are the first time. we became best friend undoubtedly and will last our friendship forever. we became friends. We accompanied each other to go to the bathroom. We told each other everything. Much to our surprise. face to the difficulties with them. for example. I have a lot of friends. Because of these reasons. As time went by. I have a best friend and specialist friend who had never been or showed a bad temper to me. TB treats the short opening statement as a subtheme that can be related to the main theme later on whereas TM tends to develop the subtheme into a full length. get the assistance when are in need. People benefit from friends a lot. Text 14. We only had seen each other several times without any interaction. After entering the same class. People can share the joy or sadness which their friends. The writer used many sentences to develop the procedure of becoming best friends. That is. Although he is just passed away 23 . One thing is for sure that we have many similar personalities. The difference lies in the development of the subtopic. the definition of “best friend” was served as an opening statement. we knew that we were in the same class. there sometimes has some quarrels would happen. Almost everyone has friends and so do I. It was not until she encountered some obstacles that we became “best friends. the main theme of the essay was declared in the final sentence of the second paragraph. no matter how well the relationship between two guys. But to me. share our happiness together. All of them are kind to me. (Text 14) Another type of TM is that the identification of the topic appears at the middle of the second paragraph. For example. help each other get over the depression. she is an essential member in my life.” As far as I am concerned. And the second part of the essay focused on elaborating the significance of the best friend. we never told each other everything in our deep hearts. She is as generous that she can endure some weakness of mine. However. chatted about this and that and went shopping together. However. the definition of “best friend” was elaborated in the beginning paragraph. both of us are pessimistic and sentimental. followed by the third paragraph illustrating about why they became best friends. Similar to TB we discussed earlier.In the beginning paragraph in Text 12. It was in the cram school that I first saw her.

It is interesting to note that the TM is consistent with the second procedure of essay development. develop the subtheme (cheng). The following are the detailed discussion of the rhetoric pattern. The examples presented in this section all featured by the development of subtheme. One procedure is that introducing the main theme (qi). She is my best friend because I know she knows me. 5. The second paragraph related the topic with the writer himself. many supporting ideas are given earlier than approaching a thesis or theme. we share our idea and find creation in our conversation. we don’t have any quarrels with each other. Only three out of 96 in the current study used this pattern. That is. Chou (1989) proposed two alternative procedures of the development of Chinese rhetoric pattern. We always have the opposite thoughts but we will try to understand what the other think.Jacob. In the special day like birthday or Christmas. the world we live. the main idea is postponed to the second paragraph. The most special temperament she interests me is the view point she has to her life. in my memory. He was my dog. Based on the theoretical background. The other procedure is to disguise the main theme with a subtheme (qi). (Text 15) Text 15 is also another example of TM. To my surprise. the delay of main theme is probably influenced by the Chinese rhetoric pattern. It stated the definition of “friend” in the first paragraph. and conclude (he). Every time when I was in the bad mood she not only gives me a warm hug or listen what make me being upset but cheer me up by sharing some optimistic idea that always enlarge my eyesight seeing the life. but she can easily express her thought in logic and always be trusted by others. Hence. the main theme is introduced until the subtheme is well developed. introduce the main theme (zhuang) and conclude (he). She doesn’t like to talk in public. She is graceful girl and know lots of things what she learn from extra study. develop the main theme (cheng). Thesis in the end (TE) TE is a special rhetoric pattern found in students samples. A delayed thesis statement refers to a more inductive style of rhetoric. followed by a transition and then turning to the topic sentence. The thesis statement is postponed in the final paragraph. provide anecdote example (zhuang). Both of us learn a lot from each other. That is. TM is similar to the qi-chenshuan-he essay pattern that is still taught in Taiwanese schools. will give me a hand 24 . we write long letters to each other to appreciate that we can have such a great friendship. he would still live in my mind and would be accompany with me toward the unknown future.when I was ten.

my name is Grace. too. it was in the last paragraph that the author’s best friend was identified. three years in junior high were about to finish. The first and second paragraph failed to directly relate the title with its text. That is. Since this moment you are my friend.” I burst out a laughter as soon as she finished what was going to say. Our friendship would last forever. without relating to the topic of the writing. we would cheered us up. it always gives me some power and encouragement. Her name is Grace. Until one day. I used to be alone when I was in junior high school. My best friend can’t talk. we always be together. She said “hi.when I need someone to accompany. She laughed at me. She is really my best friend. no matter where we went or what we did. We know we have each other and most important is we know to give others enough space. Then I feel better and smile again. My best friend is shining every day. she came to me. And my best friend 25 . but it can make me warm every day except rainy day or cloudy. (Text 17) Text 17 has similarity with the previous one. I was shy and quiet then so I didn’t have any friend. Both of us were very sad to say goodbye. That is to say. We shared out little secrets to each other. A delayed thesis statement is hard for the reader to figure out the focus of the writing without knowing the title. She is a very outgoing and energetic girl. that is like that we both go to bed at night. A clear and direct relevance to the title “my best friend” was given until the final paragraph. Our first conversation is unforgettable. Many people’s friends can talk. I can’t see it at night because it’s another friend will come out. it’s Ok because we talk every time and everywhere by using our mind. Its body has seven kinds of colors. Time passed so quickly. but my best friend can’t talk. In my opinion. The distinctive feature of TE is that a clear relevance to the topic is placed in the final paragraph. I think using our mind to talk to each other is better than using mouth. the reader would be confused if the title has not been given in the first place. (Text 16) Text 16 is noteworthy that it started without any topic sentence that could clearly identify what is been talking about in the essay. it follows me and smiles to me. Sometimes I feel bad and want to cry. The paragraph started with description of the person. Consequently. Grace will be my best friend forever. Since then. We will always be in touch. When I get up and go to school. If we had something unhappy. In fact.

about 35 % topics were introduced in high-rated essays. The current study indicated that the students tend to use a deductive rhetoric pattern in descriptive writings. 83 topics were introduced. The first part presentes the quantitative analysis of topical progressions employed in high. Now do you know who is my best friend? That’s right. Topical Structure of Writing Samples In this section.2. meanwhile. the more topics were introduced. In other words. the occurrence of parallel progression was around 40 % in highrated essays. Therefore. the whole essay was like a puzzle which is comprised by many hints about the best friend. Quantitative Analysis The frequency of high-rated essays was shown in Table 4. TE. Hence.also agree it. is an inductive rhetoric pattern which postpones thesis statement till the last paragraph. The second part discusses the differences of using topical progressions between high-rated and low-rated essays. The total T-unit of highrated essays was 236. (Text 18) The last TE sample is rather interesting. TE is a special pattern found in student’s essay. The topic depth refers to the number of different topics introduced in an essay. The occurrence of sequential progressions in high-rated essays was about 34% whereas the occurrence of extended parallel progression was about 20%. The writer first elaborated many features of her best friend. the high-rated and low-rated essays are discussed in terms of thematic progressions. The parallel progression refers to the frequency that parallel progressions appear in high-rated essays. In the end. there were 95 parallel progressions occur in total 236 t-units of highrated essays. my best friend is the sun. That is. the larger the figure of topic depth was. And my best friend gives some powers to realize my dream.16 26 . and the answer was given at the end of the essay. In high-rated essays.2.1.1 Frequency of Topical Progression in High-rated Essays Total Percentage (Each progression type/T-unit) (%) T-unit 236 --Topic Depth 83 35.and low-rated essays respectively. Table 4. That is. Namely. The only sun gives me the only wish. she asked the reader to guess the best friend she referred to. the main theme of the essay is often illustrated in the early stage of the essay.

89 Extended Parallel Progression 48 20. The writing samples that best exemplifies topical progressions are presented in this section. low-rated essays contained more topics introduced in essays.2. The tunits in low-rated essays were 251 in total. sequential and extended parallel progressions employed in students’ essays.05 Progression Sequential 33.84 Extended Parallel Progression 51 20.2 Frequency of Topical Progression in Low-rated Essays Total Percentage (Each progression type/T-unit) (%) T-unit 251 --Topic Depth 110 43. 27 . Table 4.16 43. The occurrence of parallel progression was 35%.84 Progression Extended Parallel 20. high-rated essays used parallel progressions more frequently while low-rated essays contained more sequential progressions.Parallel Progression 95 40. According to the statistics. no significant difference lay in the occurrence of extended parallel progression between high.82 Parallel 40.89 37.3 Comparison of Topical Progression between High-rated Essays and Lowrated Essays High-rated essays Low-rated essays Topic Depth 35. Furthermore.05 Sequential Progression 95 37.31 The following table showed the comparison of high-rated and low-rated essays. In terms of topic depth.33 20. The topics introduced in low-rated essays were around 44%. Table 4.and low-rated essays. Meanwhile. some diagrams of topical progressions that plotted topical subjects into a table are presented when necessary.82 Parallel Progression 88 35. The occurrences of sequential and extended parallel progression were 38% and 20% respectively.2. The function of the diagram is to help explain the development of thematic progressions.25 35.25 Sequential Progression 80 33.33 The frequency of topical progression in low-rated essays was illustrated below.31 Progression Qualitative Analysis This section presents the detailed discussion of parallel.

focus of the essay. friend 1 2. (16) Upon all. friends 1 3. Daisy is a true friend that I deeply love. and shopping when we have free time. In the parallel progressions. (15) A friend who doesn’t flatter around you would say the reality beside you. (4) She’s a considerate and magnanimous person. Use of pronouns The following sample is extracted from high-rated samples. these 3 quarrels 28 . Moreover. (10) Our friendship continues even though we are now indifferent high-schools. we went to China together. she 2 6. she’ll always be beside me at no times. these quarrels strengthened the bond between us. and the use of subjects. and nothing can break us apart. is a friend of mine in junior high school. (8) As quarrels occurs. (5) She is also an outstanding student in class.” (14) A friend is a person who doesn’t abandon you when you’re met with difficulties. repetition of key words and phrases are used to develop the ideas. she 2 8. (3) Daisy. go hiking on the weekends. the function of parallel progression is to reinforce the idea on the reader’s mind. a person that connects strong bonds with you. (Sample H2) 1 2 3 4 5 1. The differences can be classified in terms of the use of pronouns. (1) Friend is a person who gives you a hand when you are in need.Detailed discussion of parallel progression According to Schneider & Connor (1991). she 2 7. (6) Every time when I has problems in my school work. she’ s always the first person to analyze the factors that lead to this fight. she helps me solve them. (9) As time passed by. she 2 5. (12) She is truly my best friend forever. (7) Whenever problems depressed me. the use of the parallel progression was more frequent in high-rated essays than that in low-rated essays. (11) For example. In the current study. (13) “A friend in need is a friend indeed. (2) Friends are the ones you can laugh with and share the ups and down with. she 2 9. Daisy 2 4. the researcher found several differences in parallel topics between high-rated essays and low-rated ones.

even though she does not understand our language. Bingo was my responsibility now. the friendship between us doesn’t disappear. (12) Ten years has passed. Bingo 1 12. she our friendship we a friend a friend a friend Daisy 4 2 5 1 1 1 2 The first parallel progression was identified between sentence 1 and sentence 2. 12. In other words. my 3 parents 29 . the second parallel progression to sixth parallel progression were from sentence 3 to sentence 8 while sentence 13 to sentence 15 formed another two parallel progressions. 15. (10) When I was desperate. 11. though the pronoun “she” was used consistently. I 2 14. which mentioned the name of best friend back and forth to reinforce the central idea of the essay. the following sample is another example of parallel progression. (7) Eventually. 16. my parents disapprove of it. 14. (11) What’s more. (1) It has charming eyes. The name of best friend was mentioned again at the end of the essay. (14) We pass through many difficulties together and share happiness. (5) When I first saw her at first sight. Similar to this recalling skill. I promised my parents that I would take care of her. she will stay alone with me with no reasons. (6) Without any doubt. (2)It is my pet. (4) I found her in the park. 13. when I talk to her. This sample contained many parallel progressions. (3)Bingo also is my best friend even though she is a dog. (9) She is smart and what I teach her she would remember it and wouldn’t make the same mistakes. the author mentioned the name of the best friend in conclusion part to recall the reader’s mind. shaking coldly in the box. (13) Instead. (15) Bingo is not only my pet now but my best friend. which has accompanied me for ten years. I 2 13. yellow fur and shorty limbs. (8) Of course. it 1 10. it 1 11.10. it has become more stronger. she will be very concentrated. I then decided to bring it back. Bingo. (Sample H1) 1 2 3 4 5 9.

23. and was picked up by my parents. which has been mentioned previously. it got older and older. Sample L2 used pronoun “he” all the way to refer to the best friend. Thus. the impression in the reader’s mind may not be as strong as utilizing repetition of the key words. 16. (5) It looked like a black fur ball with brown fur on its head and feet. with the passing of the time. As shown in Sample L1. the topic of the essay was ended with “we” (sentence10 and sentence11). was kept mentioned once in a while throughout the essay. instead of referring back to the best friend. Similarly. failed to appear at the end of the essay. (9) My parents prepared 30 . we always played together in the park or share my emotions with it. Bingo. At the conclusion part. and didn’t have energy as before. the author tend to use pronouns to refer to the best friend. However. (7) After I returned home from the school. A strong impression may be left in the reader’s mind. “it” was used to refer to the best friend even though the name of the best friend is already mentioned in sentence3. 19. By means of repeating key phrases. yet. the focus of the essay had been shifted from the best friend to “we”. (6) After getting along with it. it was easy for readers to lose focus of the essay. the writer further brought another idea. I Bingo she she she the friendship it we Bingo 2 1 1 1 1 4 4 5 1 It is notable that the name of the best friend. (4) It was a newborn stray dog. the name of the best friend as well as the main topic was reinforced in the essay. the name of the best friend. never occurred again. (2) Needless to say. we had closed to each other. which caused the impression that the essay has not been finished and could be further developed on the topic “we”. the name of the best friend. In other words. when compared to high-rated essays. 17. (8) However. 21. (1) Everyone has a best friend in his or her life.15. Like the following two examples extracted from low-rated essays. 22. The elaboration of the topic was progressed into a different direction. low-rated essays tend to use pronouns solely throughout the essay even if the name of best friend has been mentioned previously. I also have my best friend. 20. Nevertheless. Instead. Hence. 18. which has been mentioned in sentence 6. (3) It is a puppy named Kiky.

the researcher found that the recall of the name of best friend is likely to leave the reader a stronger impression of what the essays is talking about. so he often asks me to study with him. it ran out from our house and never return. (6) My best friend is Tony. (11) My parents told me that it would die outside because of a legend that dogs would far away from their owner before they died. (4) To my surprise. In sum. she found my hardship and gave me help in no time. Moreover. we will help each other. the difference of using pronouns may affect readers’ impression of the essay. we became best friend and always study together until now. (12) In spite of sadness. I would treasure the time that we stayed together. By means of repeating the key words. readers can easily identify the main idea the writer is trying to convey. (8) And when my mood is bad. (9) Because my grade is bad. he will advise me to think before I act. (10) One day. one day I forgot to bring text book. (2) Two years ago. but know my heart is very little. the central idea of the essay can be maintained and stay focused. (1) (5) When I graduated from junior high school. (7) When I want to do something bad. The relevance of parallel topics The consistency of parallel topics can not only leave a clear impression of the essay but to develop the main idea. (10) Recall to that all things. (Sample L1) I have many friends. (3) At that time. Meanwhile. In other words. the recall of key words at the end of the essay can trace back to the main idea to remind readers the focus of the essay. appropriate repetition of key words can leave reader a clear picture of the main idea. Consequently. (12) When we each other have hard time. (Sample L2) Both sample L1 and Sample L2 failed to recall the name of the best friend at the end of the essay. It is observed that high-rated essays had competence in using parallel topics to maintain the focus of the essay. The following example is also extracted from high-rated samples. he will care about me. (5) From then on. reader’s attention was also distracted from the focus of the essay. who is a nice guy. Examining from high-rated essays. I knew a girl. (11) And we communicate now. he is really my best friend because he cares about me and often do something good for me. I entered an ideal senior high school. she was look austere that I felt she was hard to deal with.a comfort place for it to live out its life. 31 . beginning my thrilling and interesting life in school.

we 3 12. was carried out as a sequential progression. Hence. This showed that parallel progression was used mainly in this essay. the idea of the relationship between the writer and his best friend was reinforced throughout the essay. Employing parallel progression in the paragraph is advantageous because this results in strong topic focus. (8) We also like frantically to see the comedy movies. we will learn a new language. (Sample H13) 1 2 3 4 5 1. we 3 14. I 1 2. “we” was served as the topical subject which was also carried through sentence 6 until sentence 9. it is easy to tell that the focus of the essay was about “we. the topic was developed with “our precious memory”. Our 4 precious memories 11.” that is. we 3 10. we 3 6. we 3 15. she 2 5. the author first introduces when and how she met her best friend. friendship 5 In this essay. (12) We took many valuable pictures and had a lot of fun. we 3 9. (10) Our precious memories strengthen our friendship. From sentence 5.(6) We have many same personality and perspectives. I 1 3. (15) This imperishable friendship will last forever because it’s always a chance of lifetime to make a such good friend. the author and his/her best friend. (14) When we accomplish our goal. (9) Because of these reasons. (11) For example. In sentence 10. we 3 8. the topic was brought back to “we” until sentence 14. After that. By examining the TSA plotted table. French. (13) The entrance exam of university is in the corner. we are all diligent in study and we like to listen to music and play the piano. we 3 7. we 3 13. (7) For instance. she 2 4. we became best friend. we make our mind to enter an ideal university. which was indirectly related to “we”. High-rated 32 . we once took a trip to Sun Moon Lake together. The writer used “we” to build an impressive relationship between the writer himself and his best friend.

(5) Jessica is very optimistic about everything. In clause 5. she 3 9. Jessica 3 6. high-rated essays also exhibited great relevance between each parallel topics. she 3 7. Jessica 3 17. Jessica 3 11. Jessica 3 4. (15) Sometimes. Jessica is the best friend in my life. generous and thoughtful girl. (10) Jessica is very generous to people. she always gives them to others. she told me to cheer up and get good grade next time. (16) To sum up. (6) She always brings a big smile on her face. she 3 12. she always on my side and company me. her 5 encouragement 10.essays exhibited a great deal of parallel progressions to string ideas closely together. (9) Her encouragement became confident of myself. (8) I remember one time I felt sad on my bad grade on test. I have many happy times. she also help them without thinking. to have 6 From second paragraph of the essay. (4) Because her company.” (2) I think it describes very well. she 3 16. (12) And when someone needs help. (17) I think it is so lucky to have such a good person to be my friend. Jessica 3 14. she 3 13. In addition to maintain the focus o the essay. is a optimistic. I 2 3. (13) Jessica is also a thoughtful girl. (Sample H14) 1 2 3 4 5 6 1. (14) When I sad. (3) Jessica. (1) “Friend is the best gist which God give us. (7) When she faces difficulties. friend 1 2. (11) When she has cookies or candies. her 4 company 5. who is my best friend. she would even give me a big hug and make me feel very sweet. “Jessica” served as the topical subject which was 33 . she 3 15. she always looks things on the bright side. she 3 8. As shown in the following paragraphs. the author introduced “Jessica” as the topical subject of clause 3.

generous and thoughtful girl. However. Despite the consistent parallel topics. That is. he 1 10. which described the best friends as an optimistic. each sentence was not closely related to the theme of the essay. I 2 6. he 1 8. he 1 9. (Sample L10) 1 2 1. (4) I met him when he came to my twelve old birthday party. the writer developed the idea that “my best friend is strange” into “he is round and a little fat”. these sentences were not closely related since the writer did not provide the connection between the two such as 34 . (9) He was too old to run fast and jump high. (2) He is round. such as clauses 5. I played with him every day. (6) When I was delight. he 1 11. (1) My best friend is very strange. every sentence cannot be connected and related even though the parallel topics were carried out through the essay. (5) From that day. (3) He is a basketball. I 2 7. To examine the essay closely. and a little fat. my best friend 1 “My best friend” served as the topical subject of the first sentence was still in reference to the topical subject of sentence2. he could cheer me. As shown in the following sample extracted from low-rated essay. further developed the main idea. In the following paragraphs. my best friend 1 2. Meanwhile. From sentence 3 to sentence 4 the author used the pronoun “he” to refered to “my best friend”.carried through clause 6 until clause 8 using the pronoun “she”. “Jessica” served as the topical subject which was parallel to the topical subject in clause 11 to clasue16. the supporting ideas were closely related to the main idea and the essay was developed based on the main topic. 10 and 13. the topic sentence of the essay was in clause 3. Thematic progression was done through repeating the parallel topics. he 1 5. low-rated essays displayed the problem of digression from the main idea. he 1 3. Nevertheless. he 1 4. The following paragraphs are the supporting ideas. (7) When I was sad. I still like him. (11) He is my best friend forever no matter how old he is. (10) Despite he can’t play with me. (8) But he has become older and older now. from sentence 1 to sentence 3. I could share my happiness with it.

The theme of the essay had been digressed to another direction. Indirectly related topics are related by semantic set. At the final part of the essay. Unrelated sequential progressions refer to those topics that neither relates to previous topic nor to the main topic of the essay. For example. Specific examples and comparison are displayed as follows. word deviation (science. which means the comment mentioned in previous sentence become the topic of the following sentence. Moreover. the relevance of parallel topics are apparently different. the writer explicitly identified the best friend as a basketball in sentence 3. “a nice heart” occurred again to trace back to the main idea of the paragraph. Moreover.explaining the reason why “strange” is related to its appearance. It was found out that high-rated essays contained more directly related sequential topics. It has been calculated by the researcher that highrated contained 30 directly related sequential topics out of 80 sequential progressions while low-rated contained merely 18 directly related sequential topics out of 95 sequential progressions. Sequential progression occurred between clause 2 and clause 3. Yet. It is a topic-comment relation since “a kind heart” in clause2 stands for rheme and then became the theme in the next clause. Detailed discussion of sequential progression As mentioned in the previous section. Thus. The sentence had no relation to the previous sentences. Directly related sequential progression include the topic-comment relation. In short. children and old people) are considered as related sequential topics. Directly related sequential progression (topic-comment relation) The following texts are paragraphs extracted from high-rated samples. scientists) and part-whole relation (these groups. low-rated essays contained more sequential progression than high-rated essay do. However. the complete samples would not be presented but short passages that contained sequential progressions. According to Schieider & Connor (1991). the flow of the ideas was awkward. That is. indirectly related and unrelated topics. The following text is the first two paragraphs of one high-rated sample. The whole essay lacked detailed information to connect each sentence. the whole essay seems reckless and failed to maintain the theme of the essay. Still. at the end of the paragraph. sequential progression can be further classified as directly related. low-rated essays contained more unrelated or indirectly related sequential topics. Since highrated essays employed few sequential progressions. 35 . relation between scientists and their inventions. Moreover. the writer mentioned the idea that the ball is too old to play with. though parallel progressions are carried out both in high-rated and low-rated essays. the use of sequential progression was found different between high-rated and low-rated essays.

Three sequential progressions were identified between sentence 7 and 8. the main topic of this essay had not been digressed. the topic subject “Timmy and I” successfully connected the separate pieces into a whole story. we 5 14. Daphne gave her a big hand to find her way home. I 4 9. I 4 12. sentence 12 and 13. the topical subjects “I” and “Timmy” were used alternatively.(1) Daphne Wang was my best friend in senior high school. (12) Fortunately. 36 (7) . (6) According to this incident. (9) Timmy would not be lost if I take good care of him. which developed a story happened between the author and “Timmy”. It is noteworthy that from sentence 7 to sentence 12. One day. (4) Daphne was careful to every events and every person. friendship 6 The preceding text is passages extracted from one high-rated sample. sentence 9 and 10. Moreover. Timmy 1 13. (5) Once a little girl lost her way to home. (14) The friendship is the thing I treasure forever. (10) After researching for several hours. (3) A friendly heart made people like you. Timmy 1 8. I still couldn’t find him. I think Daphne is with a nice heart. (13) Though we are not the same species. Though many sequential progressions were used here. Timmy and I will have built up a friendship. I 4 11. at sentence 13. Timmy 1 10. The last sequential progression appeared between sentence 13 and sentence 14. the topic beat around the unforgettable experience happened between the author and the best friend. (11) I was very sad and afraid of not to seeing it again. The following texts are the paragraphs that contain directly related sequential topics in terms of topiccomment relation. In other words. Timmy disappeared as I didn’t close the door. (2) She had a kind heart to help people and she always had a good performance on her schoolwork. (Sample H5) 7. Timmy appeared at the best moment and I was so glad to hug it for a long time. There is another example of topic-comment relation. (8) I blamed myself for being so careless. (Sample H7) Topic-comment relation occurred frequently in high-rated essays. “Friendship” was introduced as rheme in sentence 13 and became theme in sentence 14.

(4) She’s a considerate and magnanimous person. she 2 9. the sequential relation between science and scientist is directly related. when you get into trouble or sometimes in a bad mood. (5) She is also an outstanding student in class. she helps me solve them. sentence10and 11. word division is considered as one of the directly related sequential progression. (7) Whenever problems depressed me. she 2 It is apparently that three sequential progressions occured between sentence8 and9. Direct related Sequential progression (word-division) According to Schineider and Connor (1991). she’ s always the first person to analyze the factors that lead to this fight. your best friend will always stay with you. she’ll always be beside me at no times. (1) People say that “A best friend is a color that brightens up your life. For example. showed up when I was 13. (9) As time passed by. sentence 9 and 10. “the bond” which was rheme in sentence 9 became the theme “our friendship” in senetnce10. she 2 7. “quarrels” which was mentioned in the preceding sentence became the theme in sentence 9. (12) She is truly my best friend forever. we 5 12. (4) She was my new classmate in 37 . go hiking on the weekends. she 2 5. she 2 8. is a friend of mine in junior high school. our 4 friendship 11. we went to China together. (6) Every time when I has problems in my school work. she 2 6. these quarrels strengthened the bond between us.” (2) Undoubtedly. Meanwhile. (8) As quarrels occurs. (11) For example. Daisy 2 4. (10) Our friendship continues even though we are now indifferent high-schools. Young. these 3 quarrels 10. (Sample H2) 3.(3) Daisy. and shopping when we have free time. (3) My best friend. It is apparently that each sentence had direct relation so as to construct a coherent and intact essay. The following text is a word-division type of sequential progression.

(Sample L12) 1 2 3 4 5 6 1. but full of great energy. Young 3 6. Your 2 best friend 3. I can’t live happily without my best friend. we 2 4. The following two samples were low-rated essays that contain the most sequential progressions. (9) In that time. (4) He was afraid prior to my house’s door when I go back to home from school. (5) His pity eyes touch my heart so that I decided to ask my grandpa for feed him. he 1 5. It seems like the topic was arranged from general to specific. My best 3 friend 4. Low-rated essays though employed more sequential progressions than high-rated essays do. always with smile on her face. sentence 5 and 6. sentence 2 and 3. (3) We met each other in a rainy day. (2) In fact. Puni. (5) Just the opposite to me. the 1 38 (1) . Word-division occurred as “a best friend”. sitting next to me. (7) During 30 minutes. She 3 5. I 5 8. (8) The puppy was quake with the cold wind. Young is a gentle and quiet girl. my best 1 friend 2. his eyes 3 6. I never touch my grandpa whose heart is like a stone.junior high school first grade. A best 1 friend 2. (6) But my grandpa didn’t want to do that. (Sample H3) 1. he’s just a puppy. We 4 Three sequential progressions were identified between sentence1 and 2. my 4 grandpa 7. my grandma came back become its hero. we became the greatest friend. he 1 3. (6) Suddenly. “your best friend” and “my best friend”. indirectly related and unrelated topics present high occurrence in low-rated essays. Indirectly related sequential progression Sequential progression contained not only directly related topics but also indirectly related and unrelated topics.

5 Sequential progressions occurred between sentence 2 and 3. sentence 7 (I never touch my grandpa whose heart is like a stone) had little reference to the next sentence (the puppy was quake with the cold wind). sentence 8 and 9. new information in sentence 9 (in that time. (16) Gradually. the bad thing happened. (7) One time. (17) It’s a good thing to have a best friend.puppy 9. The following texts correspond to the finding. When reader’s attention had been digressed to “the puppy”. I calm down my mind and thank to John for his care. the topical subject “he” in sentence 4 and the topical subject “his pity eyes” in sentence 5 was a typical example of indirectly related sequential topics. For example. there is an important exam to us. the author of low-rated essay used many sentences to describe the persuasion happened between the author and his grandpa. I don’t need to care so much this time. (Sample L7) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1. he 1 2. new information was introduced while the given information has not been well explained. (13) I’m very sad to miss the exam. the day is coming. (8) Everyone prepare for a long time toward that they can get the high score. he 1 39 . Unrelated sequential topics failed to connect the topics in a coherent and logical way. (4) In the class. The topics shifted quickly and were not directly related. sentence 5 and 6. That is. Cerniglia et al (1990) indicates that sequential progression helps develop a topic. he can let the boring lesson to be more interesting. my grandma 6 The organization was similar to the previous example (Sample H5) in high-rated essay. (1) He has a vigorous personality. (12) Suddenly. (2) He can bring many laughs to our classroom. From this evidence. (14) But John said “We should look on the bright side. Both authors expressed an experience and a story in the second paragraph. John.” (15) There are many tests as important as this time. The given-new information that has not been arranged and organized would lead to unrelated sentence pieces. all efforts are going for nothing. In addition. he can comfort the bad mood friend to make his sadness go away. instead of describing the story between the best friend and the writer himself. (3) He is a pistachio nut. (11) I got a bad sick so that I can’t go to school to do the test. but too many new topics may distract the reader from the main idea. (6) He is my best friend. sentence 4 and 5. sentence 6 and 7. However. my grandma came back become its hero) was introduced. (5) In the sad time. (9) Fastly. (10) When I have confidence to do the test.

(8) Gradually. 40 . we started to chat. sentence 7 to sentence 13. (4) Once he carried pile of books. 8.3. topical subject “an important exam” in sentence 7 barely had relevance with “everyone” in the next sentence. 9. 10. 5. 6. my best friend. 7. 17. Furthermore. For example. Take the following sample. 15. For instance. . which emphasized on the important exam and the author himself. he he he he an important exam everyone the day the bad thing I all efforts I John many tests I to have a best friend 1 1 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6 1 8 6 9 It is apparently to tell from the plotted table that the topic had been shifted away from its original topic. had nothing relating to the original topic of the essay. “ (7) From then on. the author described an event in second paragraph. 13.” (6) He said “Yes. it seems that he would break down anytime. (2) A coward came up to my mind when first time I met him. 11. who distribute himself to light my life up. know about literature and good at sports. I found he was not the person I thought before. too many information was brought about which finally led to a digression of the topic focus. (3) His skin is like snow white. thank you. for instance: (1) Tom. 4. 12. yet. (5) I came to help and said “Do you need help. 16. 14. (9) He help each other whether he likes. each sequential topic was not directly related. In spite of the high occurrence of sequential progression. 8 sequential progressions occurred from sentence7 to sentence17. Many low-rated essays displayed such digression problems caused by employing too many sequential progressions.

friends are important in our life. I 4 6.(10) One day. his 9 spirit 8 sequential progressions in total were found in this essay. what 8 he said 17. it can be a book. he 1 5. coward 2 3. but none of them was directly related sequential progression. I feel my best friend is comics. the following sample extracted from low-rated essays contained tow topic sentences. three 6 men 11. a 7 sound 13. His 3 skin 4. a sound I’ve ever heard said “Here comes the police!” (13) That three men run away instantly. (Sample L14) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1. Tom’s spirit for friend will be the one. (6) Although they can’t talk to me or give me a hug when I am disappointed. (3) Without question. he 1 16. Similar to the digression problem. I will save him to all my strength. Friends like a mirror who can light your bad habits and might change your life. The topic had been digressed into the event happened between the author and the three men in the second paragraph. he 1 7. (17) If best friend can be defined. Tom 1 2. (4) But your friend may not be a person. the final topical subject had never traced back to the main theme. I 4 15. your pet or anything surrounding by you. He 1 10. I 4 12. (11) In that moment. (15) he said then “ When best friend face to difficult time. (14) I luckily got saved. when I went home. (12) Suddenly. I was so scared. we 5 8. three men holding knife try to kill me. finding my feet were so deep that I can’t move. three 6 men 14. Worst of all. 41 (1) . (2) He or she may also help you when you are depressed.” (16) What he said touch my heart so deeply. (5) Example for me. he 1 9.

(11) In my life ups and downs. in the second paragraph. I can count on them. it is clear to find out that two topic sentences were attributed in sentence 5 and sentence 8 respectively. as soon as I read comics that I will put many unhappy things behind in my mind. I 4 By closely examining the sample.they can cheer me up and make me happy. The problem of incoherent and illogical problems found in low-rated essays is probably due to too many indirectly related or unrelated sequential progressions. (10) But the important thing is that I can pour my heart to them. she indicated that her best friends also include friends in school. At the concluding sentence. friends 1 2. However. (12) I am happy that I have many friends. I 4 8. (8) Although I feel comics are my best friend. they 3 7. (7) In different to my friends in school. friends 1 4. friends 6 in school 10. The focus of the essay had been shifted from “my best friends” to “many friends”. I 4 12. (9) My friends in school can teach me schoolwork or keep me company when I am sad. Detailed discussion of extended parallel progression 42 . my best 3 friends (comics) 6. (Sample L20) 1 2 3 4 5 6 1. my best 5 friends (comics and school friends ) 9. it was ended up with “many friends”. my best friends are not only comics but also my friends in school. it is noteworthy that the digression occupied a great percentage in low-rated essays. I 4 11. In the first paragraph. In sum. the writer indicated that she think her best friend is comics. he or 1 she 3. your 2 friends 5.

we 1 2. (2) They can play with us or share something with us. (6) My best friend is Tony. (5) I have many friends. However. extended parallel progressions were often found in the conclusion part in high-rated essays. its 4 meaning 5. we 7 43 . (10) Recall to that all things. several differences such as the extended parallel progressions that were placed in different paragraph has been found between high-rated and low-rated essays. my 6 best friend 7. Some low-rated essays even contained no extended parallel progression. he 6 10. That is. so he often asks me to study with him. low-rated essays failed to connect the idea through the whole essay by utilizing extended parallel progression. For example. high-rated essays tend to put extended parallel at the end of the paragraph in order to restate the main idea or to recall the reader’s memory about the main idea of the whole essay. he 6 9. he 6 8. (3) A proverb say “A near friend better than a fare dwelling kinsman. (12) When we each other have hard time. he 6 11. (9) Because my grade is bad. he is really my best friend because he cares about me and often do something good for me. The following texts are extracted from low-rated essays that employed no extended parallel progression. he will care about me. but know my heart is very little. (8) And when my mood is bad. Essay without extended parallel progression (1) When we are living in the world.The frequency of extended parallel progressions showed no big difference between high-rated essays and in low-rated essays. Nevertheless. we will help each other. (11) And we communicate now. (Sample L2) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1.” (4) Its meaning to make a good friend is important. I 5 6. who is a nice guy. a 3 proverb 4. they 2 3. We 7 (Tony and I) 12. we have friends. (7) When I want to do something bad. he will advise me to think before I act.

(16) Until now.” (2) Undoubtedly. (4) She was my new classmate in junior high school first grade. (5) Just the opposite to me. (13) I was so surprise that I even can’t reply anything to her. the topic in sentence 10 (he) was changed into “we” in sentence 11 and 12. Your 2 best friend 9. One of the two essays is illustrated above. (12) She wanted to said sorry to me. your best friend will always stay with you. sitting next to me. That is. which belong to low-rated essays. (11) There after month. A best 1 friend 8. brightening it up. In contrast to low-rated essays. we became the greatest friend. high-rated essays tend to employ extended parallel in the conclusion paragraph. showed up when I was 13. (9) She told something bad about me to Young and also told something terrible about Young to me. she told me that she was misunderstanding me. (14) After she explained all the thing about the girl to me. The following examples are extracted from high-rated essays. I was so happy about we can be best friend again. (Sample H3) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. Extended parallel progression in concluding sentence (1) People say that “A best friend is a color that brightens up your life. My best 3 friend 10. one day I got a phone call from Young. in Chinese means “the sun”. we are still the friend which will always supports each other. a girl who was disliked by our class joined our friendship. (15) Young. (17) Young is the sun of my school life. Young. (10) So we quarrel and didn’t talk to each other until we graduate. Young 3 44 . It is apparently that the theme of the essay had been distracted from the original theme. (3) My best friend. conducted no extended parallel progression. which only employed parallel and sequential progressions. Young is a gentle and quiet girl. thought we don’t study at the same school. always with smile on her face. (8) But until final year of junior high school. And it had never returned to the original topic. too. (6) Suddenly.Two essays in total. (7) We seldom quarrel because we both realized the personality of each other and know how important the apologizes. when you get into trouble or sometimes in a bad mood. She 3 11.

15. 13. (2) I first met her when I was 6 years old. Moreover. It is a way to trace back to the main topic. Jenny will always be my best friend forever. (7) Though we can hardly understand each other’s language. (14) No matter how long we’re apart. brightening it up) is corresponding to the first sentence (People say that “A best friend is a color that brightens up your life. Similar example was also found in the following sample extracted from high-rated essays. while the fourth progression was between sentence 12 and 15. 21. The second progression lay between sentence 7 and 10. The first progression occurred between sentence 5 and 10. we often went to parks to catch butterflies and grasshoppers. (8) Jenny moved away when I was 11 years old. (9) But we still wrote letters to each others. As shown in the Sample H3. me playmate since childhood. (6) Since then. (5) We found out that she loved insects. we became friends almost as soon as we saw each other. 19. just like me. I found she and I have both become mellower and mellower. 23. The third one could be found between sentence 10 and 14. (10) In her letters. she talked about the new things she met in Canada and I told her the things happened in Taiwan. and kept caterpillars as pets. The last progression was located between sentence 15 and 17. (11) She sometimes send me photos and Canadian salmon and Brazilian coffee beans. 20. but how they were used. (12) We often talks about our future. The concluding sentence (Young is the sun of my school life. 22. 17. What is worth discussing is that not only how many parallel progressions were used frequently in this essay.”). High-rated essay tend to utilize extended parallel in the concluding sentence. (4) Though she and I looked so different and spoke different language. We We A girl She We She She I We Young We Young 4 4 5 5 4 3 3 6 4 3 4 3 This sample contained 5 extended parallel progressions. is my best friend. we communicate with each other with body languages and laughter. (3) She and her family immigrated to Taiwan from Brazil. (Sample H8) 1 2 3 4 45 . (13) As time went by. it was found that the concluding sentence has high relevance to the opening sentence. 18. (1) Jenny.12. 14. 16.

Jenny I she and her family we we we we Jenny we she she we she and I Jenny 1 2 3 4 4 4 4 1 4 1 1 4 4 1 Three extended parallel progression could be found in the above text. 7. the song will still pleasant to hear. 12. 8. (Sample L8) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1. 9. 2. me playmate since childhood. (6) I often sing a song with him in our classroom. (7) And we would sing louder and louder until everybody can’t endure us. he 3 4. (12) Because when you sing with your truly feeling. 13. 4. he and 4 I 5.1. I 5 7. (11) But we didn’t care about it. (3) Most people will think that it must be a girl’s name but he is a man. is my best friend. (1) My best friend is a person that very love singing. It is notable that extended parallel topics used here focused on the theme this writer was talking about (Jenny). 10. 6. unrelated concluding topics were often found in low-rated essays. (8) Our classmates got headache about us but we found pleasure in it. 14. 11.) On the contrary. (4) Why he and I will be best friends? (5) Because we all love singing. a extended parallel progression was used in the concluding sentence ( Jenny will always be my best friend forever). (9) We not only singing together but sharing the new information of new songs. (2) His name is Nana. his 2 name 3. 3. we 4 6. (10) In fact. his voice is much better than me. my 1 best friend 2. we 4 46 . Meanwhile. which was corresponding to the first sentence ( Jenny. 5.

I was influenced by him. (Sample L18) 1 2 3 4 5 1. (4) I tell him my difficulties which bother me and depressed me every time. It is interesting to note that the last sentence (Now we are steep in helping people) had little reference to the first sentence (Friends are the most valuable present in everyone’s lifetime which full of depression) or to the 47 . no other 4 7. (5) He is endured with the natural talent for talking something to comfort my emotion. 10. 11. (3) He always encourage me when I am sad. “we” was the focus the writer tried to emphasize here. sentence 5 and 7. he 2 6. he 2 9.8. we 5 Only two extended parallel progressions were identified respectively between sentence 3 and 5. friends 1 2. (10) Gradually. (1) Friends are the most valuable present in everyone’s lifetime which full of depression. I 3 5. but the last sentence failed to draw reader’s attention back to the original topic” we”. we we his voice we The song 4 4 6 4 7 Two extended parallel progressions occurred in the above sample. my best 2 friend 3. the topic at the end of the essay had been drifted away from the original topic. (2) My best friend is Eddie. (6) There is no other person I deemed to be best friend prior to knowing him. (8) He applied what he had learned to every kid patiently. whose behavior is well. The following sample is another example that contained an unrelated concluding sentence. (7) Eddie is a kind-hearted man who dedicates himself to the children in countryside. I 3 11. (9) He also shared his feeling with me. 9. However. he 2 10. he 2 4. 12. Eddie 2 8. (11) Now we are steep in helping people.

The researcher found that low-rated essays employed more unrelated sequential topics before it returned to the original topic. she came to me. whose behavior is well). sequential topics are classified into directly related. Tale Sample L18 for example. we always be together. Unrelated concluding sentence often leave an impression that the essays has not been finished yet. (3) Until one day.” (8) I burst out a laughter as soon as she finished what was going to say. as discussed in previous sequential progression section. (2) I was shy and quiet then so I didn’t have any friend. (6) Our first conversation is unforgettable. Since this moment you are my friend. While high-rated essays contained more directly and indirectly related sequential topics before it returned to its original topic. The following samples contained the most extended parallel progressions among high-rated essays. Not only did these two essays put extended parallel progression in concluding sentence. That is. little information was given to connect his best friend with the later theme mentioned in the last sentence (Now we are steep in helping people). we would cheered us up. three years in junior high were about to finish. (1) I used to be alone when I was in junior high school. my name is Grace. (11) We shared out little secrets to each other. the last two sentences indicated the fact that the writer was influenced by his best friend and want to help people in the future. That is. (9) She laughed at me. (13) Time passed so quickly. extended parallel progression refers to any sentence topic that is interrupted by at least one sequential topic before it returns to a previous sentence topic. According to the definition given by Schineider and Connor (1991). (12) If we had something unhappy. the level of relevance of sequential topics which lie within extended parallel progression affects the construction of coherence. it seems that the topic could be further developed since the theme has not been traced back to the original topic “my best friend”. (4) Her name is Grace. indirectly related and unrelated sequential topics. (17) Grace will be my best friend forever. no matter where we went or what we did. (5) She is a very outgoing and energetic girl. (15) We will always be in touch. (10) Since then. (Sample H10) 48 .topic sentence (My best friend is Eddie. (14) Both of us were very sad to say goodbye. In addition. too. The relevance of sequential topics has effect on the use of extended parallel progression There is another interesting comparison found between high-rated essays and lowrated essays. Yet. (16) Our friendship would last forever. (7) She said “hi. but each extended parallel progression contained directly and indirectly related sequential topics before returning to the previous topics.

the parallel progression occurred between sentence 2 and 8 contained three sequential topics (she. 14. 1 I I 2 she 3 4 5 6 7 1 1 2 3 her name she our first conversation she I she we we we time both of us we Grace 2 4 2 1 2 5 5 5 6 5 5 Our 7 friendship 2 Total 5 extended parallel progressions are found here. 11. 13. Three sequential topics (something. 3. As discussed in sequential progression. 16. 5. 17. sentence 12 and 14. sentence 9 and 17. Besides. our friendship) occurred between sentence 9 and 17 were also related. Meanwhile. the theme “horrible scene” in sentence 15 has relevance to the theme “a car fast hit Puki” in sentence 14. sentence 5 and 7. 15. 4. the sequential topic “we” in sentence 15 was also indirectly related to “our friendship” in sentence16. which occur between sentence 2 and 4. 7. 8. time. They were distributed between sentence2 and 8. The following Sample H11 is also extracted from high-rated essays employed 4 extended parallel progressions. her name. sentences 13 to 15 were topic-comment relation. “she” in sentence 3 was indirectly relate to the topic “her name” in sentence 4. sentence 10 and 17. sentence3 and 5. 9. the theme “I” and rheme “Puki” in sentence 13 became the theme “we” in sentence14. which is regarded as directly related sequential progression. As discussed in previous section. For example. 6. For instance. three sequential topics (we. our first conversation). 2. I and we) were found between sentence 10 and 17. sentence 12 and 15. 10. Many directly related topics could be found. In this Sample H10. 49 . 12. sequential progression can be classified into directly related and indirectly related sequential topics. sentence 13 and 16.1.

(2) She had beautiful and round eyes. (3) He is a pistachio nut. it seemed that she realized how I feel at any time despite that she was just a puppy. (9) On the contrary. (14) We went through the road but a car fast hit Puki. horrible 4 scene 16. what 3 attracted me 4. Puki is still my best friend in my memories forever. she sat down beside me and licked the tears which rolled down my cheeks. low-rated essays returned its topic to the original theme after many unrelated sequential progressions. (10) I did everything with her. (4) In the class. (Sample H11) 1 2 3 4 5 6 1. (4) She was like a peacock. (1) He has a vigorous personality. (6) Little did I know that she will play such an important role in my childhood. (8) When I was sorrowful. sharing my feelings with this lovely dog. (17) Although the event passed ten years ago. she 2 9. she 2 5. he can let the boring lesson to be more interesting. (12) A miserable event separated Puki and me. I have lost her forever. (13) One day. I 5 17. glance and proud. (15) Now. her 2 6. Puki 2 10. (16) Since the day. she 2 7. her 2 11. when I was delightful. (7) Magically. we 6 15. she 2 8. (11) However. Puki 1 In sharp contrast. something changed all of a sudden. she 2 3. (5) 50 . it 1 2. (2) He can bring many laughs to our classroom. something 4 12.(1) It was a sunny day which I ran into her. (5) I nicknamed her “Puki”. The following texts are examples extracted from low-rated essays. I walked Puki as every day. the horrible scene would appear vividly when I think of Puki. I 5 14. miserable 4 event 13. (3) What attracted me was that her particular temper. Puki also jumped happily with me.

(Sample L7) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 18. the bad thing. I 6 31. he 1 20. (6) He is my best friend. there is an important exam to us. he 1 21. The current sample L7 has been discussed 51 . I calm down my mind and thank to John for his care. all efforts are going for nothing. the bad thing happened. (17) It’s a good thing to have a best friend. the day. he 1 23. the 4 day 27. it was investigated that the essay that contained many unrelated sequential progressions within one extended parallel progression. (11) I got a bad sick so that I can’t go to school to do the test. all efforts) were found within sentence 6 and sentence 14. many 8 tests 33. he 1 22. five sequential topics (An important exam.In the sad time. the 5 bad thing 28. everyone 3 26. he 1 19. (8) Everyone prepare for a long time toward that they can get the high score. (16) Gradually. Most interesting of all. I 6 29. Nevertheless. (12) Suddenly.” (15) There are many tests as important as this time. he can comfort the bad mood friend to make his sadness go away. an 2 important exam 25. all 7 efforts 30. John. John 1 32. (14) But John said “We should look on the bright side. (13) I’m very sad to miss the exam. (7) One time. he 1 24. I 6 34. everyone. to 9 have a best friend Only three extended parallel progression was included in this sample. I don’t need to care so much this time. (9) Fastly. the day is coming. (10) When I have confidence to do the test. I.

we can search a lot of information in different categories. these three sequential topics were not directly related. someon 5 e 8. (7) Someone who wants to know about the truth is misled by these rampant bullshit. we are now living in a information-exploding generation. internet) lay in the extended parallel progression. three sequential topics (Something. we can learn a lot of unknown information. (1) Clicking my keyboard. (Sample L9) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1. Meanwhile. Therefore. It is investigated that the difference in the use of extended parallel progression 52 . (13) My best friend will always give me good direction. (6) However.fully in the previous section in terms of unrelated sequential topics. you 7 13. many people upload their research to the Internet. somethi 4 ng 7. Many 3 people 5. sentence 9 and 13. My 6 best friend 4 extended parallel progressions were distributed between sentence 1 and 3. (8) But tell the truth. internet) in Sample L9 showed little relevance to each other. I obtain abundant knowledge. the Internet is really gives a big hand to my study. there is something to be desire that so many misleading knowledge on the Internet. the Internet is my best friend. Three sequential topics (Something. (9) Needless to say. A similar sample extracted from low-rated essays is discussed as follows. (10) Generally speaking. we 2 12. (11) How we catch up with the changing? (12) (You) just having good contact with the Internet. interne 6 t 9. we 2 11. I 1 4. someone. (5) By means of it. someone. we 2 3. (3) I can’t imagine that what I can do without computer and Internet. Besides. we 2 6. I 1 2. it was hard for readers to connect the ideas together. interne 6 t 10. (2) With computer. sentence 2 and 5. (4) Thanks to the Internet. sentence 5 and 10.

low-rated essays contained more unrelated sequential topics before returning to its original topic. 1. What were the rhetoric patterns employed in composition produced by Taiwanese EFL senior high school students? 2. The second type refers to the thesis statement that is placed somewhere in the beginning paragraph. (TB). and TLB are classified as deductive pattern. In 5. which place thesis statement in the middle of the essays (TM). it is hard for readers to connect all the irrelevant sequential topics to the original one.2. which attempts to answer the following research questions. Conclusion & Implications This chapter presents the conclusion of the study. summary of the findings is reported in order to answer the research questions proposed in chapter one. known as Thesis in the first sentence of the beginning paragraph (TFB). In addition. limitation of the study is discussed and some suggestions for future studies are provided as well. the sequential topics high-rated essays used before returning to its original topic have high relevance to each other. The third one which place thesis statement at the end of introduction paragraph is considered as thesis in the last sentence of the beginning paragraph (TLB). The forth rhetoric pattern refers to a postponed thesis statement in the second paragraph. The last type refers to those writings with a delayed thesis statement in the end of the essays (TE). Summary of the Findings The purpose of the study is to investigate the rhetoric patterns and topical structures employed in students’ writings. Yet. Followed by the summary are pedagogical implications for EFL/ESL writing instructions. The first type is the one which thesis statement appears in the beginning sentence. low relevance of sequential topics contained within extended parallel progression may digress the original topic. 53 . including TB. That is. Even though extended parallel progressions are used to recall the main idea. the first three types. Is there any difference in terms of thematic progression between high-rated compositions and low-rated compositions? 3. In other words. How were the thematic progression proposed by Lautamatti (1987) carried out in the compositions? Rhetoric patterns found in student’s essays Five features of rhetoric patterns were found in students’ essays based on the placement of the thesis statement and the arrangement of the supporting ideas. TFB.between high-rated essays and low-rated essays lies in the relevance of sequential topics contained within extended parallel progressions. This section summarizes the features found in the current study. Notably.

TM developed the opening statement such as proverbs into a whole and well-developed paragraph. according to the definition proposed by Scheider and Connor (1991). In qualitative analysis. and the topics were closely related. most sequential progressions found in low-rated essays were indirectly related or unrelated sequential topics. Several directly related sequential topics were found in high-rated essays. the thesis statement was postponed till the second paragraph. students preferred to introduce thesis statement in the early stage. In terms of parallel progression. more sequential parallel progressions were found in low-rated essays than in low-rated essays. is regarded as inductive rhetoric pattern. That is. with thesis statement appearing in the middle of the essay. Examining the writing samples in the current study. instead of using pronouns. In addition. Furthermore. In addition. deductive pattern occurred frequently in samples. TM. no difference in frequency of using extended parallel progression between high-and low-rated essays. The most common type of directly related sequential progressions was topic-comment relations. It was found that students tend to start writing with a brief opening statement. the arrangement and usage of extended parallel progressions were found different 54 . sequential progressions are comprised directly related. which contains a delayed thesis statement. indirectly related and unrelated sequential topics. Topic-comment sequential topics were used to develop the main idea. High-rated essays were found successfully leave a stronger impression of the essay to the reader while low-rated failed to maintain a consistent focus of the essay. significant difference in usage of thematic progressions was found between high-rated essays and low-rated essays. the name of the person being described in the essays was mentioned time to time in order to recall the reader’s mind. is regarded as nondeductive and non-inductive pattern. although extended parallel progressions were used equally frequent both in high.which thesis statement is introduced in the early stage of the writing. Proverbs and definitions were found majorly employed as an opening statement. Very few samples include the inductive pattern. which the thesis statement is placed in the middle of the writing. Moreover. which digressed the focus away from the original topic. high-rated essays were found to have competence in maintaining the focus of the essay by using consistent parallel topics. Nevertheless. Yet. it was found that high-rated essays employed more parallel progressions than low-rated essays whereas low-rated essays employed more sequential progressions than high-rated essays. More indirectly related and unrelated sequential topics were found in low-rated essays.and low-rated essays. In addition. the percentage of samples using TM (24%) was almost equal to that of samples using TB (25%). TE. Thematic progressions found in students’ writings In quantitative analysis. Therefore.

In conclusion. Teachers need to realize that not all approach and procedures satisfy students. Chinese rhetoric values proverbs in wirings while English rhetoric regards proverbs as cliché. low-rated essay failed to recall the main theme of the essays at the end of the essay by using parallel progressions. an error-free writing is emphasized at the expense of coherence and logic. Raimes (1999) proposed five principles to improve writing pedagogy concerning contrastive rhetoric studies. Being aware of the rhetoric features of students’ writings. 1989). teachers will be able to help students be aware of the different conventions preferred by L1 and L2 students. the problem of incoherence and digression were found in low-rated essays by utilizing topical structural analysis proposed by Lautimatti (1987). Furthermore. in high-rated essays. Raimes(1999) noted that language teachers need to know about the process of how students learn a language and how writers construct a writing product. 1997. That is. Namely. teachers are suggested to look writings beyond sentencelevel. For example. Pedagogical Implications The findings in the current study have some direct implication for EFL/ESL writing instructions. every student is different. One of the principles is the recognition of students’ diversity. Moreover. As presented in the findings. In Taiwan.between high-rated and low-rated essays. In addition. teachers need to be aware of students writing process and products in order to design a writing approach that most satisfy the students. The emphasis on complexity of composition and diversity of students makes it imperative for researchers and educators not to seek a universal prescription of language teaching. In the previous studies. Since students’ approaches to writing in English are undoubtedly shaped by their educational backgrounds and rhetoric patterns (Spack. teachers should take learners’ process in learning and writing into account when applying to teaching. it is common that English composition is taught based on sentence-level accuracy (Yao. The finding of the present study suggested that the coherence of writings can be examined by utilizing Topical Structure Analysis 55 . By investigating the distinctive features of student’s writings. teachers can detect the preferred pattern employed by students so as to guide them with a proper instruction.772). One suggestion of the study is that EFL teachers should pay attention to the distinctive feature of students’ writings. some students tend to start the writing with an introduction while an important thesis statement is left behind. Another principle is the recognition of learners’ process. Students’ writings should be emphasized more on the discourse level rather than on grammatical level. The grammatical accuracy plays a significant role in the grading criterion of a good English writing. Therefore. p. the digression was pretty obvious. extended parallel progressions were often placed at the end of the essay so as to ring a bell.

In addition. In conclusion. It is suggested that a follow-up interview be carried out after the writing task since other 56 . only one rater is recruited in the current study. TSA can also be taught as a reference for students to examine their writing quality as well as to improve their writing. The number of students was rather small.proposed by Lautimatti (1987). Limitations of the Study There are some limitations in this study. The study failed to reflect the student’s diversity since data is collected from one single school. Only 96 samples were recruited in investigating rhetoric pattern. Connor and Farmer (1990 ) employed TSA as a revision strategy for ESL writers and positively improved writing coherence by utilizing TSA. Suggestions for Future Studies As mentioned before. Furthermore. Many studies employed TSA as a tool of examining the coherence of writing. Since the analysis was quiet complex and sometimes required other proficient exports to identify and classify. Previous studies have acknowledged TSA as a criterion of coherence and TSA has direct relation to the quality of writings. TSA is used as a revision tool in students’ writing. a mended writing instruction concerning to students’ problem can be provided. Moreover. One of them is that the sample collected was from one school only. Meanwhile. TSA is acknowledged as an effective way in improving writing coherence. It is suggested that two or more raters who have related background should be recruited in the analyzing process. the students’ learning background should be investigated as well. it is investigated that improper use of parallel topics. Similarly. EFL students’ learning background should be taken seriously. As shown in the present study. Second. It is better for the future study to include diversity of students such as students from other places. More samples are suggested to be included in future studies. In order to give a convincing and valid result. the study lacked a large number of samples to provide a convincing result. the samples were gathered from one single school in southern Taiwan. Consequently. a larger number of samples should be collected. TSA is not only an effective tool for teachers to investigate the coherence problems but an effective revision strategy for students to improve writing ability. Chiu (2004) in her case study help s student develop coherence based on TSA. unrelated sequential topics and inappropriate arrangement of extended parallel progressions can leads to digression and incoherence. and only 35 were selected in investigating thematic progression. Since the rhetoric patterns are likely be influenced by L1 background. more raters who have undergone similar analysis training should be included in the analyzing process. Additionally. Moreover.

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