Syntactic and lexical features of adolescent L2 students' academic writing
Journal of Second Language Writing
A B S T R A C T With a premium placed on academic writing in the U.S. secondary education context, adolescent L2 students are expected to develop advanced skills to analyze, interpret, and produce complex texts in a variety of content areas, which require proficiency in academic language. To enhance the academic literacy of developing L2 writers and to meet their linguistic needs, it is crucial to identify the unique language features of their academic writing. This study seeks to examine
... tic and lexical features of the text-based analytical essays written by Spanish-speaking L2 students (7th-12th grades) from a public school in a western state of the United States. Employing manual sentence coding and quantitative measures of selected linguistic variables from Coh-Metrix, we analyzed student texts (N = 86) to identify common linguistic patterns and to examine how these linguistic features predict writing quality. Our findings reveal that sentence boundary issues, lack of syntactic variety, the underuse of sophisticated subordination to show connections between ideas, and low use of advanced vocabulary are common in adolescent L2 students' writing. The results of regression analyses show that syntactic complexity and lexical sophistication predict human-judged writing quality. Implications for pedagogy to address the linguistic needs of adolescent L2 students are discussed.