English as a lingua franca in academic lectures: A corpus and mixed methods study of metadiscourse and communicative effectiveness

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This thesis investigates the effectiveness of English as a lingua franca (ELF) in academic lectures at a Dutch university, focussing on discourse-pragmatic features on the one hand and on communicative effectiveness on the other. The first study is a corpus analysis of metadiscursive strategies in lectures that are taught in both Dutch and English. A taxonomy of metadiscursive strategies was identified and used to examine the frequency and characteristics of metadiscursive strategies in ELF lectures as compared to L1 Dutch discourse. In line with previous studies, it was found that metadiscursive strategies were used slightly more frequently in ELF, and that a number of strategies were characteristic of ELF academic discourse. Assuming that lecturers indeed use more metadiscursive strategies in ELF, it was hypothesized that these lectures would also be more effective. The second study has investigated this hypothesis by measuring the students’ perceived communicative effectiveness and actual comprehension of the lectures. Qualitative and quantitative measurements showed that students in the Dutch lectures were slightly more positive about the effectiveness of metadiscursive strategies than the ELF students, although both groups comprehended the contents equally well. This thesis concludes that while a correlation between the two outcomes is not detectable, it was found that ELF lecture discourse is as effective as L1 Dutch, from both the lecturer’s and students’ perspectives. This result has important implications for the societal debate concerning the increasing use of English-medium instruction in Dutch higher education.
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