A Systematic Review of Undergraduate English Language Learners’ Use of Hedging in English Academic Writing
This paper aims to explore current problems English language learners face in using hedging devices while conducting English academic writing. Through a systematic review of research works with a special focus on the use of hedging devices in English academic writing, I analyzed a series of potential causes that may result in English language learners’ relatively poor mastery of hedging. I found that: (a) generally speaking, English language learners use hedges much less frequently than native speakers of English; (b) English language learners may use certain types of hedging devices in wrong ways that will cause grammatical mistakes and result in misunderstandings and low scores; (c) English language learners would overuse some hedging devices, while they rarely use others, and they also tended to avoid using complex hedging devices to refine their argumentation in English academic writing. Potential causes of problems in English language learners’ application of hedging include: limited L2 proficiency, impacts from knowledge of the first language, the learners’ understanding of both his or her own culture and the western culture, and insufficient and inappropriate writing pedagogies without enough attention on hedging skills. This literature review ended with implications of urgent challenges existing about teaching hedging devices and suggestions that may help to teach college-level Chinese English language learners’ L2 hedging skills better.
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