Penn Language Center presents
a PLC Language Educator Series Event:
Hiram H. Maxim
Professor and Chair, Department of German Studies, Emory University
Second Language Writing Development for Collegiate Language Studies: A Genre-Based Curricular Approach
While L2 writing research has examined different developmental indicators, it has typically relied on learner performances on course-based, rather than curriculum- based, composing tasks. In other words, the writing development being investigated is not reflective of a larger curricular project with programmatic goals and objectives. This presentation explores this issue through a multi-year longitudinal and cross-sectional investigation of German L2 syntactic complexity, based on a learner corpus consisting of writing data collected across the four years of an integrated undergraduate program at a U.S. university. The presentation begins by contextualizing the study in terms of the literacy-oriented curriculum, wherein writing development is driven by the use of genre-based writing tasks throughout the four-year program. The specific genre- based tasks at the end of each of the four curricular levels receive particular attention in this study because they were designed to elicit writing performances prototypical for the end of each level. Next, an analysis of the performances on these prototypical writing tasks according to different complexity variables (mean length of sentence; mean length of clause; clauses per sentence; lexical density; degree of coordination; degree of subordination) is presented from both the cross-sectional (n = 103) and the longitudinal (n = 10) learner corpus. Differences in complexity measures across curricular levels and the degree to which complexity can predict the curricular level of a given student are reported with specific emphasis on the complexity patterns that develop within an articulated program of study that has clearly stated goals for learners’ writing performance across the curriculum. Then, the presentation compares these curriculum-specific findings with complexity findings from related L2 writing research in order to determine the degree to which existing predictions of writing development are supported by this curriculum-based data. Last, implications of these findings for building models of second language writing instruction are discussed.
For more about Hiram Maxim: http://german.emory.edu/home/people/faculty/maxim.html
Reception to follow. RSVP encouraged but not necessary.