The construction of opposition relations in high-, middle-, and low-rated postgraduate ESL Chinese students’ essays

Irena Kuzborska, Bill Soden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The construction of opposition relations is highly expected in writing at higher-university levels. Through specific discourse markers, writers signal these relations to demonstrate precision and awareness of complexity of others’ views and to evaluate those views critically. However, despite the high value of opposition relations in advanced academic writing, little is known about students’ construction of these relations. To contribute to this knowledge, this study built a corpus of argumentative essays written by native speakers of Chinese as part of their master's course assignments and compared the form and function of opposition relations in low-, middle-, and high-scored student writing. The quantitative analysis showed that the relationship between the frequency of opposition markers and writing score was not significant. However, considerable differences were found between the function and writing score when analysing the results qualitatively. High-scoring students used substantially more concessive and contrast expressions than middle- and low-scoring students. Suggestions for the teaching of opposition relations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-85
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of English for Academic Purposes
Early online date27 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

© 2018 Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.


  • Chinese postgraduate students
  • Disciplinary expectations
  • L2 writing
  • Opposition relations

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