Differences across modalities of performance

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This study investigated the linguistic and discourse differences between oral and written narrative performance on two tasks of different degrees of cognitive complexity. The participants of the study were 44 secondary school students in their second academic year of an English-Hungarian bilingual educational program in Hungary. Two narrative tasks were administered in speech and in writing. Three global linguistic aspects of students’ performance were assessed: lexical diversity and variety, accuracy, and grammatical complexity. Task specific measures included the ratio of correctly used relative clauses and past-tense verbs as well as the ratio of relative clauses compared to the total number of clauses. The frequency of positive and negative additive, temporal, causal, and logical connectives was measured using the Coh-Metrix 2.0 program. Spatial, temporal, intentional, and causal cohesion indices were also calculated with the help of Coh-Metrix 2.0. My findings indicate that, in writing, the participants were more accurate and used more varied vocabulary than in speech, but their performance was similar in terms of syntactic complexity. The analysis of cohesion revealed that students used significantly more positive and negative additive and causal connectives in speech than in writing in both types of tasks. The research presented in this chapter provides new insights into the nature of task complexity and complexity of performance in the field of L2 writing and elucidates potentials of writing tasks in furthering language development.


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