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Volume 6 Number 3, Autumn 2009, Pages 1-401   

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English Development of Chinese EFL Student Writers from Sophomore to Senior Years

    Xiaoling Ji

Second language development is an important topic in second language acquisition research, but as different studies usually focus on different linguistic features, a more comprehensive picture of language development is called for. The present study examines the developmental features in Chinese English majors' writing in the key linguistic features summarized by Wolfe-Quintero, Inagaski and Kim (1998) by comparing 100 learners' compositions from 2003 TEM4 (Test for English Majors Band 4) with their compositions from 2005 TEM8 (Test for English Majors Band 8).
The empirical tests indicate that learners make statistically significant improvement in fluency and lexical features. The minor improvement in syntactic complexity and overall rating of their writings fail to receive statistical support. On the other hand, significant decline is reported for the measure of accuracy. A comparison of learner performance from different universities shows a clear pattern of institutional differences. The results of the study suggest that progress in learners' writing cannot be taken for granted. Of the 100 learners from the four institutions in question, only those from one university show improvement in every index, most of which are statistically significant.

Keywords: language development, fluency, syntactic complexity, linguistic accuracy, lexical variation and sophistication, holistic score