Fluency and complexity in the written English of Norwegian 7th graders: A comparative study of pupils in the Early Years Literacy program (EYLP) with those in a textbook-based approach
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The current thesis is a based on a comparison of timed narrative English L2 texts written by two groups of Norwegian 7th grade pupils. One group participated in the experimental Early Years Literacy Program (EYLP), while the other group was taught English through a textbook approach. The textbook approach is the dominant one among Norwegian primary school teachers of English, while the EYLP is considered experimental due to its comparatively stronger focus on extensive reading. Several previous studies propose a favourable connection between extensive reading and foreign language development, e.g. in writing. The texts were analysed quantitatively in terms of fluency, and grammatical and lexical complexity. Several of the fluency and grammatical complexity measures were based on the T-unit (a main clause and any subordinate clauses attached to or embedded in it) in some form. The fluency measures were the average number of words per text, the average number of T-units per text, and the average T-unit length (words per T-unit). The grammatical complexity measures were subordinate clause frequency, i.e. subordinate clauses per text, the subordinate clause per T-unit ratio, and noun phrase modification. Additionally, the subordinate clauses were subcategorised according to type. Finally, lexical complexity was calculated by counting the average number of lexical verbs, nouns and adjectives types per text. The results showed that the experimental group scored higher than the control group across all the measures of fluency, and grammatical and lexical complexity. In the discussion, the comparatively higher scores of the experimental group’s writing were mainly attributed to two factors of the EYLP: comparatively more reading than the textbook approach, and the reading material itself. The pupils in the textbook approach primarily read what the textbook offered. In contrast, the EYLP pupils read comparatively much more differentiated reading material, catering for a wide range of competence levels and interests. The current thesis has contributed to the research on quantitative measures in language learner texts. It has also contributed to the research field by attempting to link reading input to writing output. To supplement previous research related to the written English development of young Norwegian learners in the EYLP approach, the current thesis has contrasted the writing of learners in this relatively experimental approach with those in an approach centring around the textbook, representing the conventional. As far as the author is aware, there is no similar research where the written output of EYLP participants has been compared to the writing of pupils in a textbook approach.
Master's thesis in Literacy studies