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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.

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