Vol. 7:2 (2021) ► pp.230–258
Lexical diversity in an L2 Spanish learner corpus
The effect of topic-related variables
This study examines the impact of two topic-related variables (i.e., valence polarity and everyday-life closeness) on the lexical diversity scores (i.e., MTLD) of learners of L2 Spanish at different proficiency levels. The analysis included 3,045 texts written in response to two pairs of prompts by 1,165 students enrolled in an L2 Spanish program. The first pair of prompts asked learners to narrate an event: prompt 1 focused on a perfect vacation (positive event), while prompt 2 asked participants to tell a terrible story (negative event). The second pair asked to describe a person: prompt 1 required that the subject be famous, thus not close to the writer, whereas prompt 2 required that the subject be special and close to the writer. Results indicate that lexical diversity scores were higher for the texts written about the positive event and the famous subject across all proficiency levels.
- 2.1Spanish learner corpora and writing prompts
- 2.2Lexical diversity
- 2.3Task – and topic-related variables that influence writing outcomes and lexical diversity
- 2.4Topic-related variables: Valence and closeness
- 3.1 Corpus of written Spanish of L2 and Heritage speakers (COWS-L2H)
- 3.2Measure of textual lexical diversity (MTLD)
- 3.3Analytical procedure
- 4.1Research question 1: Valence condition
- 4.2Research question 2: Closeness
- 5.Discussion and limitations
- 5.1RQ 1: How does the valence polarity (positive vs. negative) associated with a narrated event affect the LD of the texts written by L2 Spanish learners at different proficiency levels?
- 5.2RQ 2: How does the everyday-life closeness with the person described affect the LD of the texts written by L2 Spanish learners at different proficiency levels?
- 5.3Topic-related effects by proficiency level