Chapter 1 Introduction
1.1 Background of the Present Study
During the process of English learning in senior high schools, students aresupposed to improve their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Among thesefour skills, writing is always regarded as the most important and difficult part. Writingis the output of language that is an important criterion for measuring English learners’English competence. What’s more, writing accounts for a large proportion in Englishexaminations. If students can’t improve their writing ability successfully, they can’tget high scores in the English College Entrance Examination. However, the currentEnglish writing ability of senior high school students is not satisfactory. Most ofChinese senior school students have been studying English since they were at primaryschool. Although they have accumulated a great deal of vocabulary, specific grammarrules and cohesive ties, they still find it difficult to write down their ideas logicallyand coherently. In students’ writings, although there are some transitional phrases, thewritings are not coherent as we expect. Hence, it is an urgent task for teachers to findan effective method to improve students’ English writing competence. The newEnglish curriculum standard for ordinary middle school stated that English writingability of senior high school students should be up to eight standards. Among thesestandards, the basic requirements for English writing are correctness of content andcohesion and coherence of discourse. While in the traditional teaching of Englishwriting, teachers have been paying too much attention to the correctness of vocabulary and grammar so as to neglect the exploration of discourse coherence.
1.2 Significance of the Study
As mentioned above, English writing is the most important part in the process ofEnglish learning. However, the current English writing ability of senior high schoolstudents is not satisfactory. Until now, writing is still the most difficult part for seniorhigh school students. Hence, it is an urgent task to find an effective way to helpstudents improve their English writing ability.According to researches, the main problems that exist in senior high schoolstudents’ English writings are as follows. First of all, when writing students attach toomuch importance to the correctness of vocabulary, grammar and mechanical accuracybut ignore the change of sentence patterns. In order to avoid making mistakes,students intend to make a lot of sentences using subject-objective pattern, whichmakes the writings lack vividness. Secondly, their writings are lack of clarity. Theorganization of their writings is in a mess. Although they have learned manyconjunctions and lexical cohesion patterns, there is still little coherence and cohesion between the sentences and sentences, sentences and paragraphs or paragraphs andparagraphs in their writings. The reasons may be: On the one hand, students fail to useconjunctions and lexical cohesion correctly in their writings; on the other hand,students are weak at logical thinking ability during writing process. Using cohesivedevices among illogical sentences and paragraphs can’t heighten the coherence ofwritings. Last but not the least, it’s due to the first language transfer. People living indifferent societies with different cultural background have different patterns ofthinking. Cognitive differences can be reflected in writing, since it mirrors the way ofthinking. The thinking mode of westerners is characterized by logic, analysis andlinear. They prefer to come straight to the point and start their statements directlywhen writing. However, Chinese people prefer comprehensive and spiral thinking.They would like to express something that is not relevant to the topic before going tothe theme. Hence, the writings’ organization of Chinese people’s is different from thatof westerners’.
Chapter 2 Literature Review
This chapter reviews some relevant terms, theories and previous studies onthematic progression pattern to state the context of this research. Firstly, it introducesthematic progression pattern. Secondly, some theoretical foundation of the research iselaborated. Thirdly, it illustrates two traditional approaches to English writingteaching and reading-to-write model. Then the relation between thematic progressionpattern and English writing teaching is discussed. At last, it presents some previousstudies on thematic progression pattern to English writing teaching abroad and athome.
2.1 Thematic Progression Pattern
Thematic progression pattern as an important branch of Systemic FunctionalGrammar is widely used in discourse analysis in most of the research. In order toillustrate the thematic progression pattern clearly, the definitions of theme and rheme,classifications of theme, marked theme and unmarked theme will be introduced firstly.Then the author will present different types of thematic progression pattern in thispart.In An Introduction to Functional Grammar, Halliday (1994) states that there arethree categories of themes which concludes simple theme, multiple theme, and clausaltheme. Halliday thinks that linguistic expression has three metafunctions concludingtextual, interpersonal and ideational function. Textual function refers to the functionthat connecting each sentence into a coherent text using all kinds of linguisticmethods, such as conjunctions; interpersonal function refers to the function thatreflecting the relationship between human beings and the human’s psychologicalactivities when communicating; ideational function refers to the function thatexpressing experiences in the real world through language.
2.2 Theoretical Foundation
Systematic-functional grammar theory and discourse analysis theory arepresented in this part, which serve as the theoretical foundations of the study.These schools are also known as systemic functional schools. Language is consideredas function by the systemic functional schools. And they describe language by thefunctions that language operates in the social communication. Among these schools,Prague School is considered to be more influential than other linguistic schools. TheSystemic Functional Grammar came from London School. Firth sets up LondonSchool and comes up with the idea of system and systemic-structure theory. Hallidayis one the most influential representatives of London School.Based on Firth’s systemic-structure theory and many ideas from Prague school,Halliday put forward the comprehensive and concrete system of systemic functionalgrammar in early 1970s. Halliday thinks that language is a systematic resource forexpressing meaning in context and is the study of how people exchange meaningsthrough the use of language. According to Halliday (1985), systemic functionalgrammar consists of systemic grammar and functional grammar. Systemic grammar isto interpret the internal relationship of language as meaning potential, namely aresource for expressing meaning. Halliday firstly brought forward four functions oflanguage in 1968. Then in1970, he summarized the four functions of language asthree metafunctions: ideational metafunction, textual metafunction, interpersonalmetafunction. The three metafunctions are considered as three parts of functionalgrammar as well.
Chapter 3 Research Methodology .............35
3.1 Research Questions......... 35
3.2 Research Subjects and Research Design....... 36
3.3 Instruments............ 38
3.4 Teaching Procedures ....... 41
3.5 Data Collection and Analysis.... 50
Chapter 4 Results and Discussion .............51
4.1 Results......... 54
4.2 Discussion ............. 69
4.3 Suggestions for English Teacher......... 73
Chapter 5 Conclusion .............78
5.1 Major Findings...... 79
5.2 Pedagogical Implication............ 81
5.3 Limitations of the Study............ 83
5.4 Suggestions for Further Studies .......... 85
Chapter 4 Results and Discussion
This chapter is the main part of this thesis. Some important results anddiscussions are presented in this chapter. Results include the results of pre-test,post-test, questionnaires and interview. The discussion part consists of discussions oneffects of thematic progression pattern on senior high school students’ English writingand discussion on students’ attitudes changes in English writing.
In this part, results of the research are presented, which includes the results ofpre-test, post-test, questionnaires and interview.Based on the theoretical concepts and knowledge in Chapter Two, the students’compositions are analyzed from two angles. Firstly, the author distinguishes themesfrom rhemes and analyzes types of themes that exist in the students’ compositions.Then, the author concludes the use of thematic progression patterns.The pre-test is selected from the English test paper of National College EntranceExamination of 2016. The genre is a kind of e-mail writing. The results of marks andthe use of thematic progression patterns in students’ writings are presentedrespectively in this part.