SENTENCE-INITIAL INTERACTIVE METADISCOURSE AND TEXT COHERENCE IN EFL ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAYS
In the field of L2 academic literacy an abundance of research on metadiscourse provides evidence of its overuse or underuse, particularly in comparison to native-speaker texts. These findings have important implications if efficient use of metadiscourse is considered indicative of text coherence. This study focuses on the interactive dimension of Hyland's (2005) metadiscourse model which encompasses the ways in which writers shape their relationship with the text and readers, i.e. how they relate, sequence and order propositions. Specifically, the study aims at identifying frequency and variation of L2 writers' use of sentence-initial metadiscursive elements (SI-ME), comparing these with native speakers' choices, and determining the relationship between SI-ME use and text cohesion and coherence. The results of SI-ME analyses, conducted on 80 essays written by Croatian EFL learners, show that L2 writers' use of SI-ME diverges from native speakers' in terms of range, density and accuracy, but is also idiosyncratic and creative, suggesting a strategic approach to constructing coherent texts.