Cohesion: Teaching Implications

  • Cohesion is one aspect of composition which is not always well-handled, as the 1999 QCA investigation of GCSE writing* revealed. This could be because the way texts achieve cohesion is less likely to be explicitly taught. Capitalise on opportunities to highlight cohesive ties in texts that are read with classes as they provide good models of effective cohesion.

  • When teaching argument or essay structure, look at how paragraphs or specific arguments/comments can be linked. Introduce pupils to conjuncts and other vocabulary which will enable them to make links more easily.

  • When teaching narrative, explore the way time and space adverbials can be used to establish connections. If you have the opportunity, explore the different effects the positions of adverbials can have - at the beginning of a sentence, in the middle, at the end, space adverbials before time adverbials and so on. Adverbials, of course, are also one of the means by which specific, descriptive detail is added to a narrative, which often enhances the reader-writer relationship.

  • Problems with pronouns: a common difficulty in weaker writers is disrupting cohesion by over-using pronouns so that it becomes impossible for the reader to determine which noun the pronoun is referring to.

    They got into the school bus to see their friends. They were late and they sat down quickly.

    (Who was late - the friends or the first people represented by 'they'?)

* QCA 1999 Improving Writing at Key Stages 3 and 4 London: QCA

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