9. A corpus approach to studying structural convergence in task-based Spanish L2 interactions
Having established that interaction positively affects acquisition, research is expanding the theoretical frameworks and methodological tools with which it studies how interactional processes promote L2 development. This chapter uses corpus-linguistic tools to study Spanish L2 learners’ interaction in tasks involving a 3D world and synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC). We study the learners’ use of complex syntax from the theoretical perspective of structural alignment, which posits that language acquisition is enhanced when two learners’ output essentially “converges” (Branigan, Pickering, Pearson & McLean 2010) on the use of the same or comparable linguistic structures. The present study provides evidence that Spanish L2 learners align their syntactic production during communicative interaction by converging on the use of complex sentences containing nominal clauses.