Text Complexity Dynamics in Russian Textbooks on “Environmental Studies”. The Case of the 2nd Grade

Document Type: Research Article


1 Kazan Federal University

2 Kazan State Power Engineering University

3 Moscow State Institute of International Relations



To comprehend an academic text is one of the main tasks for pupils of both elementary and secondary schools. Developing of reading skills is viewed as one of the most important questions for teachers, scientists and is a cause for concern to schoolchildren's parents. The aim of the present research is to investigate the dynamics of text complexity in the textbook “Environmental studies” (written by A. Pleshakov, 2012) for pupils of the second grade of comprehensive schools. The textbook consists of two parts, with twelve texts in Part I and sixteen texts in Part II. The corpus compiled for the research comprises twenty-eight texts from the stated textbook. The academic year of second class pupils is divided into four quarters. Consequently, the first part of the textbook, that is 12 texts, is studied in the first two quarters – from September to December. The second part – 16 texts - in the third and fourth quarters: from January till May. The texts differ in syntactic structure and length. Syntactic simplicity was evaluated on the basis of the mean number of words in the sentence, number of syntactic structures, number of words before the predicate, and the number of simple and composite sentences. Contrastive analysis of texts in both parts did not reveal obvious dynamics in complexity. The texts in both parts tend to have similar quantity of simple and composite sentences. However, the texts from the first part of the textbook are shorter, but sentences are longer and they are more elaborated than sentences of the second part. Syntactic simplicity of texts varies across the textbook.