COHESION IN THE WRITTEN ENGLISH TEXTS OF HEARING IMPAIRED LEARNERS IN SELECTED HIGH SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF IN KENYA
MANG’OKA, ANTONY SOMBA
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Previous studies reveal that the hearing impaired learners face several challenges in their written English. These challenges affect their communication, which is likely to affect their education and career aspirations. This study investigated the use of cohesion in hearing-impaired learners’ English written texts. It investigated ways by which hearingimpaired learners in Form Three have been able to achieve cohesion in their written texts as well as the errors related to the use of cohesion. The study was guided by the following objectives: identify the grammatical and lexical features that the hearing-impaired learners use in writing to achieve cohesion; describe the grammatical and lexical features that the hearing-impaired learners use in writing to achieve cohesion; determine the types of cohesion that are prominent in the writing of hearing-impaired learners; analyze the errors in the use of cohesive devices in the hearing-impaired learners’ written texts; and investigate the grammatical errors related to use of cohesive devices in the written texts of hearing-impaired learners. The study is significant because it embraces the means by which hearing-impaired written texts are linguistically and logically connected. The study confined its investigation to the use of cohesion in the hearing-impaired learners’ English written texts. The data for the study was collected from the written texts of Form Three hearing impaired students sampled from three secondary schools located in Nyeri County, Nakuru County, and Machakos County. The written texts were picked from written assignments from different subjects as well as from one free composition. The data from the class assignment captured normal English writing situation. The study was guided by Halliday and Hasan’s theory of Cohesion to identify, describe and categorize cohesive devices in the texts. Corder’s Error Analysis theory guided the research in identifying and categorizing the errors made by the hearing impaired learners in an attempt to write cohesively, while Selinker’s Interlanguage theory was used to explain the learners’ interlanguage and causes of the errors. The researcher found out that all the cohesive devices posited by Halliday and Hasan were present, but at varying frequency. In grammatical cohesion, reference had the highest frequency of occurrence and ellipsis the least. In lexical cohesion, reiteration was higher than collocation. The researcher also found out that the hearing-impaired learners had challenges in writing cohesively. There were several errors related to the use of cohesive devices as well as grammatical errors. The study concluded that the hearing impaired learners use cohesive devices though with challenges. It recommended further research in the writing of the hearing impaired and that teachers give a lot of emphasis in the teaching of parts of speech and grammatical categories. The findings of this study provide a theory-governed description of cohesive ties used by the hearing impaired learners in Kenya. The findings also contribute to the increasing body of knowledge in studies related to the writing and communication of deaf learners. The study is useful to teachers, researchers, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development and the Ministry of Education in the formulation of future educational policies regarding the education of the hearing-impaired learners in Kenya.