Developing Syntactic Complexity in L2 Writing

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J. Paul Marlowe, Kobe University

Reference Data:

Marlowe, J. P. (2016). Developing syntactic complexity in L2 writing. In P. Clements, A. Krause, & H. Brown (Eds.), Focus on the learner. Tokyo: JALT.

Although complexity is considered an important aspect of language proficiency, little is known about the role of different writing activities in developing complexity. Therefore, in this study the effects were investigated of different types of sentence-based writing practice on the writing of 105 Japanese 1st-year university students. The researcher compared three groups who received regular targeted writing practice in either sentence-combining, translation, or timed-writing over the course of 1 academic year. Three writing samples were collected and analyzed for 4 quantitative measures of syntactic complexity. A repeated measures ANOVA was used to ascertain differences over time and between groups for all syntactic measures examined. The results indicate that the sentence-combining and translation groups outperformed the timed-writing group on several measures, but that there were no significant differences between the 2 groups.