L2 Development from a CDST Perspective and the Issue of Generalizability

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Abby Massaro


From a complex dynamic systems (CDST) perspective, language is understood as a dynamic system comprised of subsystems that change and develop over time in response to learner-internal and -external factors (Verspoor et al., 2008). Accordingly, language development is seen as a process responsive to the dynamic interaction between the learner and her context over time. While CDST prefers a process over product approach to analyzing language and its development, extant research on language learning has traditionally taken a more static and rigid perspective on acquisition, generally operating under the assumption that development can be understood (more or less) by drawing a straight line between individual variables or conditions and changes in the interlanguage. Findings from traditional research are often presented in “before and after” terms, framing language outcomes as a product of treatments, rather than characterizing developments as an ongoing and variable process.

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