Journal for Language Teaching

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An index formula for measuring development in second language writing

Karien Hattingh, Johann L van der Walt


The measurement of second language development is an essential aspect of second language research. An index of development is an objective measure with which to measure second language development. This article focuses on syntactic accuracy in writing and describes the process followed in establishing an index formula that can measure development in writing. Criteria for an index formula are formulated, and the unit of analysis, the T-unit, is discussed. Grade 12 compositions were analysed and the statistical procedures used in the analysis (correlation, stepwise regression and discriminant analysis) are described. The proposed index formula is Length x EFT/T. This formula can be used in future to determine developmental progress in second language acquisition, and whether standards are improving or not. Pedagogical implications are also pointed out.

Keywords: second language development, syntax, accuracy, index of development, T-unit, index formula

Journal for Language Teaching Vol. 39(2) 2005: 293-304
AJOL African Journals Online