Second Language Writers' Text: Linguistic and Rhetorical Features, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Second Language Writers' Text

Linguistic and Rhetorical Features, 1st Edition

By Eli Hinkel


392 pages

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This comprehensive and detailed analysis of second language writers' text identifies explicitly and quantifiably where their text differs from that of native speakers of English. The book is based on the results of a large-scale study of university-level native-speaker and non-native-speaker essays written in response to six prompts. Specifically, the research investigates the frequencies of uses of 68 linguistic (syntactic and lexical) and rhetorical features in essays written by advanced non-native speakers compared with those in the essays of native speakers enrolled in first-year composition courses. The selection of features for inclusion in this analysis is based on their textual functions and meanings, as identified in earlier research on English language grammar and lexis. Such analysis is valuable because it can inform the teaching of grammar and lexis, as well as discourse, and serve as a basis for second language curriculum and course design; and provide valuable insight for second language pedagogical applications of the study's findings.


"…this work is a valuable reference for anyone specifically involved with the design of academic writing courses, and presents some interesting data which I am sure any writer of a more general book on second language academic writing, as well as those working on more effective ways in which to teach it, will need to take into account."


"This book is a clear contribution to the field of research in second language writing and composition for college freshman. It is comprehensive in the sense that it considers grammar, lexis, and rhetoric as essential elements in teaching….Hinkel's strength lies in the fact that she led her research not into a study of language variation as corpora based research commonly leads to, but into pinning down language areas useful to include in an L2 writing text. Hinkel's book is a must read for curriculum designers who want to incorporate outcomes of corpus research in language teaching, writing instruction in particular."

Linguist List

"This is a valuable book, full of detailed information about students' grammatical choices. The extensive tables provide a comparison of linguistic features by essay prompt and L1, with lots of detail about the frequency of occurrence of particular structures…Her conclusions…strongly recommend substantial changes in ESL writing and grammar pedagogy to increase focus on the textual functions of grammatical features."


"Eli Hinkel's ambitious study of placement essays of 1,457 college students, a corpus of 437,768 words…is a major step toward catching up with past corpora studies of published texts….Hinkel's design is elegant and her results extensive--685,440 data points consisting of median and range values."

The Modern Language Journal

"This volume provides one of the most comprehensive analyses of academic writing in a second language (L2). Hinkel documents extensive research in the linguistic and rhetorical features found in L2 writing, weaving into her discussion a review of the research in first language (L1) writing. But this is not a book about contrastive rhetoric. Hinkel's purpose is to map out the particular features that constitute L2 academic writing through a review of the literature and her own empirical study, which dominates this book….I found much to admire in this book: Hinkel's comprehensive empirical study, her wide reading of the research in L2 writing (particularly contrastive rhetoric), and her passion for reform in the L2 classroom….Hinkel's findings deserve the attention of anyone involved in the teaching of L2 writing at the college or university level."

Studies in Second Language Acquisition

"The data in each chapter and the substantial tables in the appendix render this book a gold mine for students who want to undertake further research. And for those of us who construct placement exams, Hinkel's data raise some fundamental issues for futher exploration."

American Journal of Psychology

Table of Contents

Contents: R.B. Kaplan, Foreword. Preface. Part I: Background: Research in Text and Written Discourse. Writing as Text. Research in Academic and ESL Written Discourse and Text. Written Discourse and Text in Different Rhetorical Traditions. The Goals and Politics of Teaching ESL Writing. The Study of Features of Second Language Text: Essays, the Data, and Methods of Analysis. Part II: Common Linguistic and Rhetorical Features of Academic ESL Text. Nouns, Pronouns, and Nominals and Their Functions and Uses in Text. The Verb Phrase and Deverbals and Their Functions and Uses in Text. Adjectives and Adverbs and Their Functions and Uses in Text. Subordinate Clauses and Their Functions and Uses. Text-Rhetorical Features and Their Functions and Uses. Part III: The Effect of Prompts on ESL Text. The First Three Prompts. The Second Three Prompts. The Differences That the Prompts Make. Part IV: Conclusion. Determining Priorities in Teaching and Curriculum. Epilogue. Appendices: Rank-Order of Median Frequency Rates of Linguistic Features in NS and NNS Texts. Comparisons of Common Linguistic and Rhetorical Features in Academic Essays Across Prompts, by L1 Groups.

About the Series

ESL & Applied Linguistics Professional Series

This series provides essential texts on teaching English as a second language and applied linguistics. It includes authored and edited volumes to be used as primary or supplementary texts in graduate-level and teacher training courses to enhance students’ and practicing teachers’ professional qualifications and knowledge. Each text is designed to promote the current and growing body of knowledge in applied linguistics and second language teaching, including advances in teacher education and the study of language.

Specifically, the series includes, but is not limited to, current uses of applied linguistics research in teaching a variety of second language skills, such as reading, writing, speaking and listening; materials and curriculum design; literacy; English for academic purposes; and research methods.

The texts also deal with broad domains of professional preparation related to socio-cultural perspectives and current issues/topics in teaching and learning a second language.

Books in the series benefit not only students, but experienced teachers, curriculum developers, teacher trainers, program administrators, and other second and foreign language professionals seeking to advance and update their knowledge and expertise.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Bilingual Education