A Case Study in Complexity and Accuracy in Development in ESL Academic Writing: A Dynamic Perspective


This presentation is a case study on the development of complexity and accuracy in an advanced English learner's academic writing over one semester. Studies on complexity and accuracy measures in second language (L2) development have shown diversified results. While some studies suggest a trade-off relationship between complexity and accuracy (Skehan, 1998, 2009; Skehan & Foster, 2007), other studies demonstrate a joint-raise in both measures due to cognitive processing (Robinson, 2001, 2003). Spoelman and Verspoor (2010), however, found no meaningful relationship between complexity and accuracy in the three-year data of a beginner Finnish learner. The absence of the relationship between these measures was also pointed out in Gunnarsson (2012). The setting of these studies, which was a foreign-language learning context as was Vyatkina's (2012) study on L2 learners of German, may have altered the developmental trajectories and interactions between the measures. Hence, there is a need to look into a second-language learning context in which extensive daily inputs and outputs may render the development more dynamic, thus resulting in a different pattern. This study addresses this gap. It explores the dynamic unfolding of complexity and accuracy development in an advanced English learner's academic writing during her postgraduate study in Australia. Applying variability analyses within Dynamic Systems Approach (van Dijk & van Geert, 2007), this study looks for developmental transitions and identifies interactional patterns between the two measures over time. This paper contributes towards unveiling the dynamic relationship between complexity and accuracy, and advancing our understanding of L2 writing development.

Author Information
Rosmawati, The University of Sydney, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2013
Stream: Education

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