Cohesion in the Descriptive Writing of EFL Undergraduates

Wafa Ismail Saud


In EFL context, writing is the most difficult skill to master. Saudi students of English, find it very difficult to construct a coherent written essay in English. The difficulties lie not only in the poor organization, the inappropriate thesis statement, the inadequacy of providing examples and details, and the limited vocabulary but also in the misuse of cohesive devices. Cohesion and coherence are considered the two important features of good writing. So much attention should be paid to generating and organizing ideas in general and to the role of cohesive devices in particular.


This study will make an important contribution to the basic issue in educational research, as it will provide a description of cohesive devices used in descriptive compositions written by Saudi University Students majoring in English. It is expected that the study might help to determine the relation between the use of cohesive devices and the quality of writing. It also specifies the common characteristics that the students share with regard to the choice and use of cohesive devices. An understanding of students' use of cohesive devices can help pave the way for the preparation of writing course materials and upgrading the teaching and learning process to best suit the learners of English in Saudi Arabia.


The technique for eliciting information employed was an achievement test. A sample of 50 Saudi female students was asked to write essays in English that were assessed by the researcher. The students were all majoring in English in the third year. Halliday and Hassan's (1976) model was selected as the most comprehensive framework for the analysis of the cohesive features in the student's writing. Analysis of the data consisted of investigating the relationship of these devices with scores of writing.


The study concluded by bringing together the key findings, recommendations for EFL teachers and suggested areas for further research.



Cohesive Devices, Cohesion and Quality Writing, Reference, Substitution, Ellipses, Conjunction, Lexical cohesion

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