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Volume 15 Number 4, Winter 2018, Pages 900-1238 PDF Download

The Effects of Task Complexity and L2 Proficiency on L2 Written Performance

    Jiyong Lee

Although extensive task-based research has focused on how the manipulation of task complexity affects L2 performance, less attention has been paid to its combined effects with those of L2 proficiency. In this study, 41 Korean learners of English carried out a written task with two levels of task complexity, operationalized as number of elements. Participants were divided into three groups, based on their level of L2 proficiency. Performance was assessed by syntactic complexity, lexical diversity, and accuracy measures. Significant interaction effects between L2 proficiency and task complexity were found on lexical diversity and accuracy measures, especially in the high-proficiency group. Findings are discussed in relation to Robinson's Cognition Hypothesis and attentional resources available for task performance.

Keywords: task complexity, L2 proficiency, L2 written performance, syntactic complexity, lexical diversity, accuracy measures, Cognition Hypothesis