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Structural alignment in L2 task-based interaction

Dao, Phung and Trofimovich, Pavel and Kennedy, Sara (2018) Structural alignment in L2 task-based interaction. ITL: International journal of applied linguistics, 169 (2). pp. 293-320. ISSN 0019-0829

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Abstract

This study investigated L2 structural alignment, the tendency for interlocutors to re-use a syntactic structure present in recent discourse, focusing on two information-gap interactive tasks. Thirty-four university students from diverse language backgrounds, recruited from different academic programs at a Canadian English-medium university, carried out the two information-gap interactive tasks in dyads. Interaction data were transcribed and coded for instances of structural alignment and the alignment’s characteristics in terms of structure type and accuracy. Results indicated that structural alignment occurred in L2 task-based interaction generated by both tasks. This structural repetition was linked to an improved accuracy of subsequent language production. Furthermore, the two tasks were associated with different structures that were converged on, and with varying degrees of structural alignment. These findings are discussed in terms of effects of task features on structural alignment, and the role of structural alignment in subsequent language production.

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