A Corpus-based Qualitative Analysis on Syntactic Complexity of Academic Depiction Writing

Li Zhang


English writing research on L2 and EFL learners have been of enormous interest among researchers and teaching practitioners. This study has focused on the frequent-used dimension of syntactic complexity to study EFL learners’ writing performance, nevertheless it does a corpus-based qualitative analysis on an academic depicting writing task, which has less been researched before. The article reports the findings that 1) syntactic complexity could be a significant valid measurement of learners’ writing performance and English proficiency; 2) pitifully yet not surprisingly, language proficiency stronger learners tended to create more essay-like and argumentation-like products in responding to and performing in the academic depicting writing task, hence failed in producing the typical feature and essential texts of that genre; 3) learners have generally poor knowledge of different genres and chances are that they may mix them in task performance. Following the qualitative reports and discussions on major syntactic and minor discursive evaluations of sample texts, it ends with pedagogical implications on future L2 and EFL teaching and researching.

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