On Thursday November 14-15, 2019, in cooperation with the Centre for Linguistics at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, we hosted the colloquium, Broadening the Scope of L2 Complexity Research (see description below). We were joined by several researchers in the field of L2 complexity research, including: Gabriele Pallotti (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia), Tineke Brukfaut (Lancaster University) and Benedikt Szmrecsanyi (KULeuven) as well as several junior researchers who are currently working on expanding L2 complexity research. The presentations also provided for a thought-provoking panel discussion led by Bram Bulté (VUB, KULeuven). Funding for this event was generously provided by: the Pôle de recherche en linguistique (UCLouvain), the Centre for Linguistics and the Doctoral School of Human Sciences (VUB).
The past 20 years have seen an upsurge of research on linguistic complexity in second language acquisition (SLA) research (often in conjunction with accuracy and fluency; Housen & Kuiken, 2009; Bulté & Housen, 2012). In recent years, this body of research has also been met with criticism (e.g. Pallotti, 2015). Some of these criticisms have included: the fact that the construct of L2 complexity is ill-defined, the lack of construct validity of the L2 complexity measures that have been used, and the fact that L2 complexity research has been too narrow in scope, focusing almost exclusively on complexity phenomena at the lexical and syntactic level, while ignoring other levels of languages such as morphological and phonological complexity or complexity phenomena at the interfaces between the traditional levels of linguistic analysis (e.g. the lexicon-grammar interface; e.g. Paquot, 2019). This two-day workshop is a response to recent calls in the literature (Housen, De Clercq, Kuiken & Vedder, 2018) to expand the construct of, and research on L2 complexity beyond the syntactic and lexical levels. As such, this workshop directly ties in with our own PhD projects, which also aim to expand research on L2 complexity by focusing on complexity in the phraseological domain of learner language and other complexity phenomena at the lexis-grammar interface (cf. Paquot 2018, 2019).