Edited by Gary G. Fogal and Marjolijn H. Verspoor
[Language Learning & Language Teaching 54] 2020
Chapter 3. The dynamic co-development of linguistic and discourse-semantic complexity in advanced L2 writing
This study reports on an exploratory investigation of the developmental and interaction patterns of linguistic and discourse-semantic complexity in two advanced Chinese EFL learners’ argumentative writings. Adopting a complex dynamic systems theory approach, this work captures linguistic complexity by using subordination and phrasal elaboration metrics, and semantic complexity by examining grammatical metaphor. The findings are: (a) the two sub-systems of linguistic complexity develop through different paths, featuring nonlinearity with progress and regression; (b) semantic complexity generally undergoes dynamic development – however, there seems to be inter-participant variation in terms of transitional phases; (c) the interaction of linguistic and semantic complexity is diversified between the subsystems and at the individual level. The level of L2 skillfulness and integrated feedback are likely to contribute jointly to the results. These findings have implications for both L2 writing research and instruction.