Syntactic Complexity Development in English Grammar Pedagogy
In line with the recommendation that syntactic complexity-focused instruction should be provided to EFL learners at the university level, the present study modified the traditional teaching content of English grammar in China into a syntactic complexity-focused syllabus. We examined translations by 52 first-year undergraduate students enrolled in an English Grammar course in pre- and post-tests to determine whether explicit teaching of syntactically complex structures could lead to the development of syntactic complexity. The results demonstrate that the mean length of clauses, the number of appositive clauses and sophisticated structures in the post-test were significantly higher than the ones in the pretest, while the number of clause, adverbial clauses and attributive clauses decreased, which means students used fewer subordinate clauses but more reduced structures. In addition, linguistic descriptions for the differences between two tests as well as students’ responses to syntactic complexity-focused instruction, were provided to fully understand the nature and characteristics of their syntactical change and pedagogical implications are drawn from these findings.