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A Framework for Syntax Acquisition in CALL
L2 acquisition of syntax has a rich history of research, largely stemming from Pienemann's Processability Theory (1998). However, research on techniques for promoting L2 morphosyntax acquisition is sparse, and otherwise competent language learners have shown a lack in competency the progression of syntax compared to other areas. The few studies that confront applied techniques for acquisition often do not propose methods to improve syntax and communicative ability, focusing instead on writing and rhetoric over the ability to produce coherent and accurate sentences in conversation. This study examines CALL techniques as a potential avenue for promoting the acquisition of morphosyntax for verbal communication, aiming to fill this gap by offering learners a controlled social environment to both practice speech and receive input from other students or instructors. The unique challenges of studying and measuring the acquisition of morphosyntax are discussed, and techniques for both promoting morphosyntactic development through virtual social interaction (namely, multiplayer video games) and measuring development of L2 syntax are presented. Data from a pilot study observing the use of multiplayer video games as primary tools in an existing English conversation class are discussed. Preliminary data from an ongoing study using the multiplayer game "Among Us" as a supplementary learning tool in which students use their target language to solve tasks and problems competitively and collaboratively are also discussed. This data focuses primarily on observations on subjects' use of complex syntactic forms, with an emphasis on the development, use and structure of question forms.
Pienemann, M. (1998). Developmental dynamics in L1 and L2 acquisition: Processability theory and generative entrenchment. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 1, 1–20.