Writing Assessment in Higher Education
  • ISSN 2211-7245
  • E-ISSN: 2211-7253
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Although texts produced by (very) advanced Dutch learners of English as a foreign language (EFL) may be perfectly grammatical, they often feel distinctly non-native. Dutch, as a verb-second language, makes separate positions available for discourse linking and aboutness-topics. Although the English sentences of these advanced learners conform to the subject-verb-object order of English, the pre-subject adverbial position in English is made to perform the information-structural function of the verb-second discourse-linking position, producing texts that are perceived as non-native, without being ungrammatical. A side-effect of this L1 interference is the underuse of special focusing constructions in English, like the stressed-focus it-cleft. This paper investigates the progress of Dutch writers towards a more native-like use of the pre-subject position and the it-cleft in a longitudinal corpus of 137 writings of Dutch university students of English. We conclude that information-structural differences present the final hurdle for advanced Dutch EFL writers.


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