Chapter 8. Accounting for variability in L2 data

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This chapter examines variability in L2 data and isolates two factors that have a significant impact on L2 performance: task modality and linguistic structure. A group of native speakers of Spanish and two groups of intermediate L2 Spanish learners (L1 English and L1 Arabic) completed an oral and a written production task which elicited direct object and oblique Spanish relative clauses. Results indicated that not only did modality have a significant effect on the results, as previously stated (Bialystok 1982; Tarone 1983), arguably because oral and written tasks tap into different types of knowledge (Ellis 2005); but also that linguistic structure was a robust determinant in the speakers’ results, showing that linguistic and cognitive approaches can inform each other.


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