Disciplinary socialization, audience awareness, and the production of interpersonal metadiscourse markers in the writing of U.S. and Korean graduate student writers
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This study investigated how U.S. and South Korean graduate students conceptualize and adapt to their audiences when writing an academic paper within their disciplines. Specifically, this study focused on (a) cross-cultural differences by student’s nationality and (b) the qualitative change in student writer’s sense of audience over a semester. This study utilized text analysis, semi-structured and discourse-based interview, and survey method. With a sample of 19 U.S. and 22 South Korean graduate students enrolled in U.S. graduate programs, a survey measuring the student writer’s disciplinary socialization and disciplinary audience awareness was conducted. A text analysis method was utilized to examine the five interpersonal metadiscourse categories appearing in 82 academic papers. Among the participants, 4 U.S. and 4 South Korean students were interviewed at two time points with a semester interval regarding (a) their conceptualization of and adaptation to audience in the process of writing and (b) their intentions for choosing specific interpersonal metadiscourse items in their papers. The data analysis suggested cross-cultural differences between the two nationality groups in their conceptualization of and adaptation to audience. Specifically, the U.S. students exhibited a great deal of awareness of audience whereas their South Korean counterparts displayed less prominent evidence of this metacognition. In addition, the U.S. students invested more deliberate effort to improve intertextuality, organization, and clarity as ways to adapt to audience. Compared to the U.S. students, the South Korean students were primarily concerned with minimization of potential misunderstandings and breakdowns in communication due to linguistic and cultural barriers. The U.S. and South Korean students also differed in their utilization of interpersonal metadiscourse items. Overall, the U.S. students employed significantly higher numbers of hedges and boosters than their South Korean counterparts. The South Korean students’ employment of interpersonal metadiscourse suggested possible influences from their first language and different sociocultural schemata on politeness strategy. Pedagogical implications for the teaching of second language writing and suggestions for future research are provided.