A matter of facts: L2 writers’ use of evidence and evaluation in biographical essays

Gordon Myskow, Masumi Ono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the evaluative language used in high- and low-graded historical biography essays in a CLIL-based university course. The biography genre, marked by an inductive informational structure where authors’ views becomes apparent only after evidence is presented, is a discourse-type that has received less attention in the literature than deductively-patterned argumentative genres. The study examines explicit evaluations in the genre's concluding stage and implicit realizations used as evidence in support of them, providing insight into the underlying rhetorical mechanisms that enable evaluations of historical actors to appear to arise ‘naturally’ from a seemingly dispassionate set of facts. The study found little difference between high- and low-graded essays in their preferences for evaluative subtypes (e.g., ethics/competence-based judgments) and no difference in their selections of positive/negative loadings. The findings suggest that what is more important than the types of evaluations writers use is how evidence is mobilized in support of them and how it is assimilated with evaluations in particular grammar patterns. A pedagogical framework, called ‘FACTS’ is proposed to familiarize writers with options for presenting evidence in support of claims and develop a deeper understanding of how evidence and evaluation collaborate to advance writers’ views.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-70
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Second Language Writing
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sept


  • Appraisal
  • Biography
  • CLIL
  • Grammar patterns
  • History
  • L2 writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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