Improving the Use of Language Hedges in Academic Writing through Reading Journal Articles

J.A.M. Buddhima Karunarathna


In the arena of English for academic purposes, many nonnative speakers of English in different contexts find it difficult to perform well, because academic genre is alien to them. Current study was based on improving writing skills with a special focus on writing of language hedges in argumentative essays through reading journal articles. The study focused on the two research questions; 1.) Is there a significant improvement in using language hedges in academic writing through reading journal articles? 2.) What are the perceptions of students in reading journal articles to improve academic writing? Methodology of the study was based on quasi experimental and longitudinal design. Mixed method was utilized in collection of data. Participants of the study were 32 first year undergraduates of an English Language Teaching degree programme of a vocational technological university in Sri Lanka. Quantitative data was collected through a questionnaire and intervention through reading journal articles. Qualitative data was collected by interviewing 12 selected participants of the study. Two subject expertise evaluators and AntConc (2019), SPSS (23), MS Excel (Office 365) and thematic analysis were used to analyse data. Findings of the study reveal that there is a significant improvement in using language hedges by reading journal articles in the five categories of language hedges concerned; epistemic hedges, lexical hedges, lexical verbs, modal verbs and possibility hedges according to the descending order of the usage and the rate of improvement. Further, it can be concluded that pleasure and conscious reading of journal articles provide both cognitive and affective insights for novice academic writers of English. Two major implications for further research were drawn; to study the effect of language hedges in the culture of first language affects the usage of language hedges among undergraduates, and to study on the other stance features and engagement features in academic writing among the undergraduates in the Sri Lankan context.


Academic Reading, Academic Writing, Argumentative Essays, Journal Articles, Language Hedges, English as Second Language, Undergraduates

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