Tunisian Students’ Perception and Awareness of Metadiscourse Stances in Reading an Academic Text
Keywords:Metadiscourse, Reading, Comprehension, Lexical Invisibility, Tertiary level
‘Lexical Invisiblity’ or failures in perceiving metadiscourse signs could impact students’ comprehension of text, especially academic ones. In the Tunisian educational system which divides Tertiary level students into broad specialisms, teachers adopt various reading approaches accordingly to students’ needs and requirements of their professional careers. This might lead to a focus on some linguistic aspects at the expense of others, and might prevent learners from understanding the conveyed message at its fullest. The current research aims to determine to what extent Tunisian University learners (N=12) are aware of the presence of stances, while reading an academic text. Echoing Low’s (1996) and Hyland’s (2003) studies, a Think- Aloud Protocol permitted to identify students’ shortage in perceiving interactional items, such as hedges and boosters. Findings indicate that students tend to focus on the overall content and make a total abstraction of the linguistic signs of certainty and uncertainty. The investigation stresses the importance of highlighting the linguistic means that enhance the comprehension of academic texts. As overlooking interactional devices could affect students’ accurate understanding of academic texts, EFL instructors are strongly suggested to raise learners’ awareness of Metadiscourse items by teaching them explicitly and drawing their attention to them.
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