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Volume 18 Number 4, Winter 2021, Pages 1071-1525   

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Task Sequencing and Task Complexity Effects on L2 Writing: Does Task Order Really Matter?

    Jiyong Lee

While the importance of task sequencing in task-based research and syllabus design has been emphasized, there is a gap in the literature regarding whether the order in which tasks are presented actually has a significant impact on L2 performance. The aim of the study was to investigate whether task sequencing actually had an effect on L2 written performance. A writing task with three levels of task complexity was given to 88 EFL learners, with one group carrying the three task versions out in the order of increasing task complexity (Simple-to-complex), and the other group in the order of decreasing task complexity (Complex-to-simple). It was found that the cognitive load of the task, as well as learners' syntactic complexity and lexical diversity shown in their L2 writing, were significantly affected by task sequencing and its interaction with task complexity. Pedagogical implications are noted with regard to the differential effects that task sequencing has on L2 writing, as presenting tasks in the order of increasing task complexity resulted in greater syntactic complexity, while presenting tasks in decreasing task complexity led to greater lexical diversity.

Keywords: task sequencing, task complexity, L2 writing, syntactic complexity, lexical diversity