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Article Title : The Development of Syntactic Complexity in the Writing of Chinese German Majors: A Study Based on Dependency Grammar
Author(s) : Yushan Li
Corresponding Author : Yushan Li
Keywords : Syntactic Complexity; The Writing of Chinese German Majors; Dependency Grammar.

In SLA research, the study of the written performance and proficiency of learners is a main research area. However, syntactic complexity, the basic element for describing L2 performance, has not received the attention it deserves in Chines research history about L2 German. How does the syntactic complexity in the writing of Chinese German majors develop? What is the relationship between its syntactic complexity and that of native speakers? On the basis of dependency grammar, this study with the quasi-longitudinal approach applies the quantitative -linguistic research method to answer these two research questions. The mean dependency distance is used as the measure of syntactic complexity. The self-constructed corpus in this study is taken from the random sample of the test texts from the exam PGG 2011, PGH 2012 and the native speaker subcorpus of corpus Falko. All data is handled by a combination of automatic computer processing and manual checking. The result shows that the syntactic complexity in the writing of Chinese German majors did not develop significantly from the second to the fourth year, but there is a noticeable gap between their syntactic complexity and that of native speakers. It suggests that since the second year of university, Chinese German majors have not made visible progress in their syntactic ability and that they may still be a long way from reaching the level of a native speaker, although this is not excluding the influence of examination strategies. This study provides a reference for German language teaching in Chinese universities.