01 Dec 2020
13:00  - 14:00

Online (via Zoom)


Gastvorlesung / Vortrag

Complexity, Accuracy, Fluency, and Lexis in L2 Development

Forschungskolloquium mit Dr. Zeynep Köylü

“Complexity, Accuracy, Fluency, and Lexis (CAFL) in L2 Development: A Dynamic Usage-based Investigation of Differences Across Modalities and Contexts”


Measuring second language (L2) proficiency and development has long been a disputatious topic in second language acquisition (SLA) research (Leclercq et al., 2014). One common way of tapping change in L2 performance has been to analyze learner speech and writing through the subdomains of complexity, accuracy, fluency, and lexis (CAFL), which has eventually become an L2 assessment framework (Norris & Ortega, 2009). However, SLA research has failed to document that each CAFL construct conjointly develops over time (Bulte & Housen, 2020). By the same token, expecting linear change in longitudinal learner performance data has been challenged by the dynamic usage-based perspectives (DUB) as this strand of SLA research has proved empirical evidence for non-linear developmental trends in L2 performance over time (Verspoor, 2017). Especially given the high degree of variation in individual learning trajectories, it has been claimed that levelling off individual scores and using group means to generalize individual gains could be methodologically risky and misleading (Lowie & Verspoor, 2019). Therefore, alternative methodologies using non-linear advanced modelling techniques have been called upon to capture these highly varied developmental patterns in longitudinal designs (Lowie & Verspoor, 2019; Murakami, 2016).

Motivated by the above-mentioned gaps in the literature, this longitudinal study pertains to the dynamic relationship among linguistic performance constructs as CAFL across contexts over time through a cross-sectional quantitative and qualitative analysis of learner performance data. Taking a DUB approach (Behrens, 2009; Verspoor & Behrens, 2011), this study explores any form of systematicity in CAFL constructs as indicators of language development. Additionally, taking one component of CAFL, syntactic complexity development in the form of subordination, this study looks for empirical evidence for systematicity of interlanguage. In reference to the systematicity of language as a DUB system, this study also investigates the development of one type of form-use-meaning-mappings (FUMMs, Verspoor, 2017) in the form of infinitival and gerundial verb complement structures (VC) in a cross-sectional design. Finally, the current study aims to create a computerized model to predict L2 performance over CAFL measures pertaining to language modalities (e.g., written and spoken), context (study abroad vs. at home formal instruction), task types, and proficiency levels. The longitudinal written data for this study come from the Study Abroad Language Acquisition project (SALA, Perez-Vidal, 2014). A subcorpus of diaries from this project was compiled by the researcher, consisting of 110K words from 12 sojourners (tertiary level Spanish/Catalan bilinguals learning English as an L2) who provided one diary entry per week (a total of 175 texts) over an academic semester (12-17 weeks) abroad in an Anglophone context. The dataset was first transformed into CHAT format and then coded for CAFL measures using CLAN (MacWhinney, 2000). The dataset was also coded and explored for infinitival and gerundial VCs via AntConc (Anthony, 2019). Spoken data from the Longitudinal Database of Learner English (LONGDALE, Meunier & Littré, 2013) will be analyzed for oral development upon its release in 2021. In the session, preliminary observations and textual and virtual explorations of the dataset will also be presented to discuss several DUB phenomena in the dataset.

If you would like to listen to this talk, please contact Dr. Zeynep Köylü ( to obtain the necessary Zoom link.



Anthony, L. (2019). AntConc (Version 3.5.8) [Computer Software]. Tokyo, Japan: Waseda University.

Behrens, H. (2008). Corpora in language acquisition research: History, methods, perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Behrens, H. (2009). Usage-based and emergentist approaches to language acquisition. Linguistics, 47, 383–411. doi:10.1515/ling.2009.014

Bulte, B.& Housen, A. (2020). A DUB-inspired case study of multidimensional L2 complexity development: Competing or connecting growers? In W. Lowie, M. Michel, A. Rousse-Malpat, M. Keijzer, and R. Steinkrauss, Usage-Based Dynamics in Second Language Development (pp. 50-87). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Lowie, W. M., & Verspoor, M. H. (2019). Individual differences and the ergodicity problem. Language Learning69, 184-206.

MacWhinney, B. (2000). The CHILDES project: Tools for analyzing talk. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Meunier, F. and Littré, D. (2013). Tracking Learners' Progress: Adopting a Dual ‘Corpus cum Experimental Data’Approach. The Modern Language Journal, 97(S1), 61-76.

Murakami, A. (2016). Modeling systematicity and individuality in nonlinear second language development: The case of English grammatical morphemes. Language Learning, 66(4), 834-871.

Norris, J. M., & Ortega, L. (2009). Towards an organic approach to investigating CAF in instructed SLA: The case of complexity. Applied linguistics, 30(4), 555-578.

Pérez-Vidal, C. (2014). Language acquisition in study abroad and formal instruction contexts. John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Verspoor, M. H. (2017). Complex dynamic systems theory and L2 pedagogy: Lessons to be learned. In L. Ortega and Z. Han (Eds), Complexity theory and language development: In celebration of Diane Larsen-Freeman, (pp. 143-163). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Co.

Verspoor, M.H., & Behrens, H. (2011). Dynamic systems theory and a usage-based approach to second language development. In M. H. Verspoor, K. de Bot, & W. Lowie (Eds.), A dynamic approach to second language development (pp. 25-38). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Co.

Verspoor, M. H., Schmid, M. S., & Xu, X. (2012). A dynamic usage based perspective on L2 writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 21(3), 239-263.



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