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ISSN : 1226-4822(Print)
ISSN : (Online)
The Sociolinguistic Journal of Korea Vol.26 No.1 pp.31-59

Thematic Patterns in Formal Email Writing of Korean EFL College Learners

Ko Bo-Ai


This study explores the Theme types and the thematic progression in the formal email writings of Korean EFL college learners, based on the Theme-Rheme analytical framework of Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG). Data was collected from 99 college students, enrolled in an English Writing Composition course during the second semester of 2017 via a cyber university in Korea. Their main writing activity involved email writings in the form of requesting primarily based on the Genre Approach. Text analysis was conducted with the comparison of the high- scoring group (15), the medium-scoring group (15) and the low-scoring group (15), based on assessment of the course assignment. Employing the coding step of identifying the Theme and Rheme of each T-unit, the text analysis sought to figure out which Theme types were used for each T-unit and which thematic progression patterns were used for overall text flow and cohesion. The key finding was that there were certain discourse-specific thematic patterns of formal email writing. Among the range of thematic features, this study will highlight marked Themes, interpersonal Themes and thematic choices of nominalization for the purpose of formal email writing texts.