Profiling Learner Language as a Dynamic System Edited by: ZhaoHong Han

Hardback - 184 pages
Related Formats:
10 Jul 2019
Second Language Acquisition
Multilingual Matters
234 x 156
Available (recent release)


This volume sheds empirical light on Complex Dynamic Systems Theory (CDST) by providing five sets of analyses of two longitudinal, interactional datasets, involving two dyads exchanging emails over one academic semester. The collective study on CDST is the first of its kind, in that it delves into multiple subsystems of learner language, traversing the domains of morphosyntax, semantics, pragmatics and discourse. The data analyses expose the dynamics of the interactional process, offering evidence of core characteristics of complex dynamic systems: sensitive dependence on initial conditions, interconnectedness of subsystems, the emergence of attractor states over time and variation in and between the individuals. Together, the analyses, each alone an engaging description, capture fine-grained patterns of change over time. More importantly, they demonstrate the impact of the ecosystem on individuals’ use of language. The book offers critical insights relevant to CDST researchers, theorists and empiricists alike, as well as to teachers seeking a nuanced understanding of the learning benefits of computer-mediated interactional activities.


Unlike most other collections, this book consists of a series of articles that draw on data from the same macro context. This gives a uniformity to the book that is rare in collections and very welcome. It makes a noteworthy contribution to the study of Complex Dynamic Systems and offers some important suggestions about how research in this area can move forward. I congratulate ZhaoHong Han on assembling such an interesting volume.

- Rod Ellis, Curtin University, Australia

The time has come to deliver on the promise of Complex Dynamic Systems Theory (CDST) in language studies. By adopting multiple approaches to a common data set, this innovative set of studies expertly applies CDST, and in doing so, clearly and unapologetically demonstrates both its emerging strengths and limitations.

- Peter D. MacIntyre, Cape Breton University, Canada

Author Biography:

ZhaoHong Han is Professor of Language and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research interests include second language learnability, second language teachability, and their interface. Among her recent publications are Complexity Theory and Language Development (co-edited with Lourdes Ortega, John Benjamins, 2017), Studies in Second Language Acquisition of Chinese (Multilingual Matters, 2014) and Linguistic Relativity in SLA (co-edited with Teresa Cadierno, Multilingual Matters, 2010).

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional

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