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Evaluating Syntactical Complexity in Language Classes

An Analysis of the Observations of Italian SL Teachers

Ineke Vedder    Universiteit van Amsterdam, Nederland    



This paper aims to investigate how language teachers perceive syntactic complexity in L2 writing and to what extent teachers’ judgments are related to current theoretical views in the research literature on Second Language Acquisition (SLA). Sixteen L2 teachers were asked to evaluate the syntactic complexity of a sample of argumentative texts written by L2 university students of Italian. In the panel discussion that followed, teachers discussed the motivations behind their assigned scores and the feedback they had proposed. The results revealed that teachers tended to focus primarily on accuracy and comprehensibility, and much less on syntactic complexity. Teachers’ reflections appeared to be only partly aligned with existing theoretical views on syntactic complexity in the SLA literature.

June 4, 2020
April 8, 2020
Feb. 10, 2020

Keywords: Teachers’ perceptionsL2 writingSyntactic complexityItalian L2SLA

Copyright: © 2019 Ineke Vedder. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.