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CLSU 2002-15: The Grammatical Structures in the Written Composition of College Students: An Approximation of an Interlanguage Analysis

This study probed into the extent of acquisition of the English language by students in the tertiary level. Specifically, it sought to identify the specific phase structure rules present in their written compositions as well as the grammatical structures resulting from embedding and deletion. Using T-unit as the basic unit of analysis, this research further looked into the syntactic complexity of college students’ written language which was then compared with the syntactic complexity of Mendiola’s (1978) elementary pupils and Peñaranda’s (1990) high school students to find out where in the interlanguage continuum the college students are presently situated. There were 40 students, ten each from first, second, third and fourth year levels who wrote the corpus of this study. Each student developed into a composition each of the three assigned topics. The composition was first grouped according to year level, then partitioned into syntactic units using the minimal terminable unit or t-unit. These were then listed and coded. The number of words per t-unit and the number of grammatical t-units per student were taken to compute for the average length of t-units. The average t-unit length per group was taken. A comparison of means per group was done using one-way ANOVA to find out differences based on year level. Sentence-embedded grammatical structures present in the written language of college students are first, adjectivals; second, adverbials; and third, nominals. Structures as products of deletions mostly result from conjuction reduction and reduced adverbials. Year level is associated with production of structures showing deletions but not with the sentence-embedded structures. These structures accounted for may initially be seen as an approximate description of college students’ present rules system of their interlanguage. The syntactic complexity of structures as reflected in length of t-units and number of embeddings per t-unit differed significantly with respect to year level, but the number of grammatical structures did not differ significantly. Several topics for future research were identified which consisted of analysis of both grammatical and ungrammatical structures, comparative study of the structures in the written or spoken language of elementary, high school and college students, and syntactic analysis of students’ spoken language in comparison with their written language, among others.

Central Luzon State University
Authors Keywords
Madriaga, Joventina D.; higher education; English language proficiency;
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