Discourse Marker Research in Spoken EFL

Journal of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Split, No. 4 January 2011

Review article

Gloria Vickov   ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0001-8294-4387 ; University of Split, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences 

pages 271-289


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In spite of discourse markers´ highly important role in creating discourse cohesion and coherence and in spite of the fact that discourse markers are an indispensable component of discourse, pragmatic and strategic, i.e. communicative competence, empirical research on these linguistic items has been largely neglected in the field of foreign language learning, especially English (Ellis, 1994; Müller, 2004). Findings of a small number of studies in this area point to a relatively poor command of English discourse markers by EFL learners, which is primarily considered to be a consequence of an inadequate systematization in discourse marker teaching. These studies are mostly based on data obtained from spoken EFL samples and are mainly oriented towards Deborah Schiffrin´s (1987) discourse approach to discourse marker research. In this paper the author provides a critical review of the most–referred– to studies on the acquisition and use of discourse markers in spoken EFL. Given the under-representation of the above mentioned research in applied linguistics, this review will hopefully contribute to extending current knowledge about the conceptual and methodological dimensions of EFL discourse marker research whose diachronic perspective has only encompassed the last twenty years.


discourse markers; EFL speaking; EFL learning