The Effect of the Explicit Instruction of Formulaic Sequences in Pre-Writing Vocabulary Activities on Foreign Language Writing

Dina Abdel Salam El-Dakhs, Tanecia Tasneem Prue, Attia Ijaz


The present study investigates the effect of the explicit instruction of formulaic sequences in pre-writing vocabulary activities on foreign language writing. To this end, a total of 81 Saudi pre-intermediate learners of English as a foreign language participated in a 10-week study of a pretest/posttest design. In every 2-hour session of a total of 10 sessions, the participants were required to read a news story and then re-write it individually without looking back at the original story. During the treatment period, the participants received different pre-writing vocabulary practice. One group, consisting of 44 students, practiced individual words in the news stories while the remaining 37 students studied formulaic sequences in the new stories before re-writing the stories in their own language. Analyzing the students’ writing showed that the explicit instruction of formulaic sequences led to an increased use of the sequences in students’ writing. The results also partially supported a positive influence for the explicit instruction of formulaic sequences on the learners’ lexical choices and overall writing quality. The practice provided on formulaic sequences in the study did not, however, result in any significant improvement in the learners’ use of formulaic sequences in autonomous story re-writing. Relevant pedagogical implications are proposed.


Formulaic sequences, foreign language writing, explicit instruction, vocabulary teaching, pre-writing tasks, writing instruction

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