Research on second language acquisition has located individual variation, without clarifying whether language processing prompts learners to differ systematically in the production of syntax and morphology. To address this issue, the study examined the hypothesis on variation in Processability Theory. This theory predicts that, within second language development, individual learners vary systematically in how they respond to developmental conflicts. Specifically, learners have distinct types, which are evident in their use of options and 'trailers' (structures which emerge late). Longitudinal spoken data were collected over one academic year from six adolescent ESL learners. The results revealed different learner types in terms of syntactic options and trailers. However, the learners had less clear types for the morphological options, used unpredicted options, and lacked consistency in their use of syntactic and morphological trailers. The paper suggests that learners vary in processing due to diverse orientations towards the acquisition of either syntax or morphology.
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