Task repetition and L2 writing development

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Previous research has shown that repetition of a task improves L2 oral performance in terms of fluency and complexity (e.g. Bygate 2001). However, there is no clear evidence regarding the effects of task repetition and task-type repetition on L2 writing ability. Using a Dynamic Systems perspective, this study investigates longitudinally over a one-year period whether any noticeable changes are brought about through repeating a timed writing task. Forty-six first-year Japanese university students participated in this project for thirty weeks. Each week students wrote a composition on a chosen topic for ten minutes; the topic was changed every two weeks. A group-level analysis of 1300 compositions with five indices of fluency and syntactic and lexical measures shows that, while the effects of specific task repetition were limited, task-type repetition did have a marked effect on writing in terms of lexical and grammatical aspects. An individual-level analysis suggests that task-type repetition does not have an identical effect on student writing development in terms of linguistic features. Based on these findings, we suggest that the benefits of repeating the task may not show up in the short term but that repetition over an extended period would yield positive effects on students’ writing.


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