Analysis of Linguistic and Discourse Features of the Essays Written for the York English Language Test

Nadia Tarique Haque


This study builds on the Explanation inference of the Interpretative Argument (Chapelle et al., 2009) and on the work of Cumming et. al (2006) to address the question of whether and how the linguistic and discourse features of essays written in response to the reading-to-write tasks of the York English Language Test (YELT) vary across proficiency levels. For this investigation, a sample of 50 YELT essays, with YELT score between 2 and 7, were analyzed for the features of essay length, lexical sophistication, syntactic complexity, grammatical accuracy, density of interactive and interactional metadiscourse markers, and quality of argument structure. The results showed marked differences across proficiency levels in terms of lexical, syntactic, pragmatic and rhetorical features. In sum, it can be concluded that with the increase in proficiency levels, as depicted by YELT scores, the essays were longer and improved in terms of syntactic complexity, density of interactive and interactional metadiscourse markers, and quality of argument structure.


L2 writing; language proficiency; proficiency levels; L2 texts; discourse analysis

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