Charles University (CZECH REPUBLIC)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN18 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 2144-2154
ISBN: 978-84-09-02709-5
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2018.0593
Conference name: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2018
Location: Palma, Spain
In the present paper, we introduce a research of students’ writing skills in Czech and German. Specifically, we focus on the discourse-anaphoric devices contributing to text coherence and we analyse their role in the overall communicative competence of students – learners of Czech and German as foreign languages.

Discourse-anaphoric devices are essential representatives of the general group of cohesive devices that help to constitute the well-structured and coherent text. These devices (called also anaphoric connectives) are expressions such as “therefore”, “thereby”, “thereof” (in Czech, e.g., “proto”, “přesto”, “potom” or in German “darum”, “trotzdem”, “danach”). They are special in the way that they connect two text units and signal a semantic relation between them (e.g. “therefore” expresses a relation of result), similarly as other “non-anaphoric” connectives (e.g. “and”, “but”, “while” or “because”). At the same time, however, these expressions contain an inherent (internal) anaphoric reference, e.g. “there” in English, “to” in Czech or “da” in German, and they constitute both discourse and referential net of relations as the two essential pillars of text coherence. The discourse-anaphoric devices are thus complex expressions having an essential role in text production and their correct using helps to improve and deepen the author’s communicative skills.

In the paper, we present an analysis of these devices in learners’ essays and we examine whether the students who actively use such expressions in their writings have also better communicative competence as a whole in the targeted language (i.e. they reach better overall grade in the coherence). We analyse the results for Czech and German separately, and finally, we carry out a comparative study of these two languages. The research is based on the Czech and German corpus data (containing authentic learners’ essays). The results are supported by statistical measurements (the conclusions are verified by the chi-square test).

In the next step, we discuss how our results may be used in the teaching process, i.e. how to improve the students’ writing skills and how to teach them to produce a comprehensive and continuous text. Finally, we confront our findings with other related work focusing on similar topics for other languages.
Communicative competence, discourse, anaphora, anaphoric connectives, Czech as a foreign language, German as a foreign language.