Date of Graduation

Fall 2015


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

Christine Biava


Metadiscourse is a universal rhetorical aspect of languages embodying the notion that the purpose of writing is not only informative; rather, it is a social act enhancing a writer-reader interaction and building effective communicative relationships, thereby creating a reader-friendly text. This thesis examines metadiscourse in L2 academic writing of Arabic-speaking advanced English learners. It investigates the effect of different environments, English as a foreign language (EFL) versus English as a second language (ESL), as well as the effect of time in the development of writers’ metadiscourse. Results were mixed. Quantitatively, the EFL group was closer to the Control group of native speakers in their overall metadiscourse, but the ESL group was closer to the Control group in more than half of the subcategories. Qualitatively, the ESL group was closer to the Control group in four categories, which helped them to establish their ethos and logos. However, both EFL and ESL writers failed to employ other metadiscourse markers to express their attitudes clearly and engage their readers. To bridge the rhetorical gaps in L2 writing, this thesis asserts that explicit instruction in the rhetorical features of English academic writing is not only needed, but also should be required at early stages of writing instruction. Practices, such as identifying metadiscourse markers and their functions in well-written texts, were reported as effective by the case study group in raising their awareness of how metadiscourse can serve the rhetorical functions.


metadiscourse, contrastive rhetoric, English academic writing, Arabic rhetoric, L2 writing, EFL versus ESL environment

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


© Mohammed Hamdi Kareem Al-Rubaye

Open Access