Proficiency and Complexity : Comparing the L1 and L2 Written Compositions of Finnish Upper Secondary School Students
Fondem, Elias (2020-04-27)
Julkaisu on tekijänoikeussäännösten alainen. Teosta voi lukea ja tulostaa henkilökohtaista käyttöä varten. Käyttö kaupallisiin tarkoituksiin on kielletty.
Julkaisun pysyvä osoite on:
The purpose of this thesis was to examine and compare the written complexity in the L1 and L2 writing of Finnish learners of English. Proficiency is a topic of great interest in research on second language acquisition. Specifically, efforts are made to ensure that the proficiency of language learners can be reliably and validly measured. For this purpose, complexity is one of three widely accepted components of language proficiency. A commonly used tool for the measurement of language proficiency is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, or the CEFR (Council of Europe 2001), which provides descriptors for written complexity at different proficiency levels. Previous research has compared complexity between the first language and second language of language learners (see for instance Lahuerta 2018), though research of this nature is still scarce within the Finnish context. Additionally, there appears to be a lack of research that focuses on investigating whether a language learner would produce more complex pieces of text in their L2 than in their L1 as their L2 proficiency increases. The data in this thesis consisted of Finnish and English essays written by Finnish upper secondary school students as part of a separate project. The essays were subjected to four different measures of written complexity, and the results were then compared according to the language and the proficiency levels of the students. The research questions in this thesis included: 1) How do measures of complexity differ between L1 and L2 texts written by the subjects? and 2) How does L2 proficiency level correlate with complexity in the L1 texts written by the subjects? The results were analyzed quantitatively since the essays were divided into two types according to the L2 proficiency levels of the writers, and these two groups were compared to one another as wholes. Additionally, a qualitative analysis was performed, with each student analyzed as an individual. The results of the analysis suggest that, generally, while those who possessed a greater level of L2 proficiency obtained higher scores in their English essays, all of the Finnish essays had higher scores in two out of four measures. Additionally, two of the four measures indicated that greater L2 proficiency is connected to a decrease in L1 written complexity (though not a significant decrease). L2 written complexity appeared to become greater than L1 written complexity at higher L2 proficiency levels in terms of only a single measure. These results should encourage future research into developing measures that produce more comparable results between such different languages and conducting similar comparison research using more proficiency measures and a greater sample size. The results can also encourage consideration of the potentially harmful effects that an excessive focus on L2 teaching may have on first language skills.