The Linguistic Features of English and Indonesian Essays Made by Efl Undergraduate Students

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THE LINGUISTIC FEATURES OF ENGLISH AND INDONESIAN ESSAYS MADE BY EFL UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

Teguh Budiharso

Abstract: Linguistic features of English and Indonesian essays made by EFL (English as Foreign Language) undergraduate students were analyzed by using content analysis. The objective was to identify the similarities and differences in sentence complexity, grammar, and mechanics of the essays. Errors in the forms of incomplete sentences, run-on and stringy sentences were found as well as grammatical and mechanical errors. The results showed that in the area of grammar, the essays indicated that the students had more proficiency on their first language (L1), but relatively poor on their second language (L2). More grammatical errors were found in English essays, whereas more mechanical errors were found in Indonesian essays. The research showed that the students had not sufficient English mastery in performing a scholarly writing. Key words: linguistic features, sentence complexity, grammar, mechanics, academic writing.

Linguistic features refer to the use of sentence construction, grammar, and mechanical aspects of writing. A text with good linguistic features uses characteristics of language of science. The text conveys statement that is accurate and exact, supporting the logic of the statement. The use of proper sentence structure and precise vocabulary help reader identify proposition in the text more readily. Linguistic features in this study are identified through the use of sentence complexity, that is, simple sentences, complex sentences, and compound sentences; the use of grammar and mechanics in English and Indonesian essays. Teguh Budiharso adalah dosen Universitas Mulawarman, Samarinda

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BAHASA DAN SENI, Tahun 34, Nomor 1, Februari 2006

The linguistics features of this study rely on theories of English academic writing. The theory mainly focuses on the syntactic and mechanic quality of writing. Therefore, the essay is evaluated on the basis of the use of sentence complexity, grammar, and mechanic quality (Raimes, 1985). In this regard, theories concerning the process of developing academic writing (Hogins and Lillard, 1972; Andrew and Gardner, 1979; Krashen, 1984) that specifically deal with characteristics of academic writing, writing process, and analysis of an essay into pieces of traits are applied. The syntactic quality refers to the types of sentence construction: simple, compound, complex, or compound complex sentences. In addition, the grammar and mechanic quality refers to the characteristics of grammatical and mechanical errors found in each sentence. The grammatical errors include awkward constructions and agreement errors. The mechanical errors include punctuation errors, spelling errors, and capitalization errors (Andrew and Gardner, 1979; Latief, 1990; Oshima and Hogue, 1991). With regard to the linguistic aspects, a study on assessment on English writing skills for EFL students conducted by Latief (1990) indicates that students taking more writing courses do not improve the rhetorical and coherent qualities in their writing. The students did not write with greater complexity of sentence construction, did not write longer papers, and did not make fewer errors. Focusing on the linguistic aspects of writing (i.e. coherence, syntax, grammar, and mechanics), Sabilah (1999) identifies that erroneous linguistic aspects in writing are frequently performed by the students, implying that insufficient exercises on the scientific writing are lacking. The study suggests that the writing process is not learned well by students. Some high group students (Grade Point Average is 3.0 and up), all of middle group students (GPA is 2.5 to 2.9), and all of the low group students (GPA is less than 2.0) write draft of their English essay in Indonesian before they write the final copy in English. Most students also lacked the coherence of an essay; for instance, a thesis statement is not clearly...
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