Monitoring the Structure of Meaning in Beginners' ESL Prose


  • Asha Tickoo



Beginners' ESL prose is characteristically both over segmented and inappropriately segmented with respect to information structurel posing a unique type of challenge to readers attempting to process such texts. This article examines whether this unconventional form of information segmentation results in violation of certain information-packaging constraints that ordinarily ensure that readers can easily identify the macrostructure (van Dijkl 1980; Renkemal 1993) of the text. Comparison of 20 descriptive essays written by ESL beginners with the prose of skilled writers suggests that four constraints on information packaging are needed to facilitate the identification of macrostructure. Evidence is presented of the absence of these constraints in beginners I prosel and it is demonstrated that revising a sample essay to incorporate these constraints results in easier recognition of its macrostructure. These findings suggest that the fragmentation problem in beginners' ESL prose may be overcome if learners are made aware of the notion of macrostructure and taught to conform to the four organizational constraints that ensure its accessibility.




How to Cite

Tickoo, A. . . . . . . . . . . (1998). Monitoring the Structure of Meaning in Beginners’ ESL Prose. TESL Canada Journal, 16(1), 01–18.