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Second Language Acquisition Colloquium Talk – Kyle
February 19, 2019 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
University of Hawai’i at Manoa
Researchers in the field of second language acquisition (SLA) have often measured productive
language development and proficiency using indices of formal syntactic complexity (e.g., the
number of dependent clauses per clause; Lu, 2011; Ortega, 2003). One potential shortcoming of
this approach is that it considers syntactic and lexical use to be distinct constructs. A growing
body of research, however, suggests that an important aspect of productive language proficiency
is the use of lexical items in appropriate grammatical contexts (Ellis & Ferreira-Junior, 2009;
Goldberg, 2006; Nation, 2016; Sinclair, 1991). In this presentation, I introduce a newly
developed automated method of analyzing verb use in various grammatical (argument
construction) contexts in large corpora. I then describe a study that examines variation in verb
argument construction use across second language writing proficiency levels. The results
indicate that indices of verb argument construction use are better indicators of second language
writing proficiency than indices of formal complexity.
Kristopher Kyle is assistant professor of Second Language Acquisition at the University of
Hawai’i at Manoa. His research interests combine corpus linguistics and second language
acquisition, in particular second language writing. He has developed a number of text analysis
tools that allow for the automatic analysis of grammatical complexity and the assessment of
lexicogrammatical proficiency of learners.