Marjolijn Verspoor, Wander Lowie, Kees de Bot
March 3, 2021
Article number: 20200034
In recent studies in second language (L2) development, notably within the focus of Complex Dynamic Systems Theory (CDST), non-systematic variation has been extensively studied as intra-individual variation, which we will refer to as variability . This paper argues that variability is functional and is needed for development. With examples of four longitudinal case studies we hope to show that variability over time provides valuable information about the process of development. Phases of increased variability in linguistic constructions are often a sign that the learner is trying out different constructions, and as such variability can be evidence for change, and change can be learning. Also, a limited degree of variability is inherent in automatic or controlled processes. Conversely, the absence of variability is likely to show that no learning is going on or the system is frozen.