A linguistic analysis of simplified and authentic texts

Scotta A. Crossley, Maxm M. Louwerse, Phillip M. McCarthy, Danielle McNamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


The opinions of second language learning (L2) theorists and researchers are divided over whether to use authentic or simplified reading texts as the means of input for beginning- and intermediate-level L2 learners. Advocates of both approaches cite the use of linguistic features, syntax, and discourse structures as important elements in support of their arguments, but there has been no conclusive study that measures these differences and their implications for L2 learning. The purpose of this article is to provide an exploratory study that fills this gap. Using the computational tool Coh-Metrix, this study investigates the differences between the linguistic structures of sampled simplified texts and those of authentic reading texts in order to provide a better understanding of the linguistic features that comprise these text types. The findings demonstrate that these texts differ significantly, but not always in the manner supposed by the authors of relevant scholarship. This research is meant to enable material developers, publishers, and classroom teachers to judge more accurately the value of both authentic and simplified texts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-30
Number of pages16
JournalModern Language Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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