Task based research and language pedagogy


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Task based research and language pedagogy

  1. 1. Task-based Research and Language Pedagogy Rod Ellis University of Auckland Presentation by Mariane Ferrantino
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>The goal of this article is to discuss the research that has been done into the psycholinguistic and socio-cultural views of task-based learning and teaching. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Defining “task” <ul><li>A ‘task’ can be defined several different ways: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ A ‘workplan’; that is, it takes the form of materials for researching or teaching language. . . Definitions of ‘task’ typically relate to task-as-workplan.” (p. 195) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A task can also be defined as a process (“i.e. the activity that transpires when particular learners in a particular setting perform the task.”) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(p. 195) </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. How is a task different from an exercise? <ul><li>Task: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Learners are communicating with one another with primary focus on meaning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Exercise: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An activity that requires “correctness” on the part of the learner </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Task from a psycholinguistic perspective <ul><li>Ellis states: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ From a psycholinguistic perspective a task is a device that guides learners to engage in certain types of information-processing that are believed to be important for effective language acquisition from some theoretical standpoint (p. 197). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>SAY WHAT? (Please imagine me reading that paragraph at least four times before I had a smidgen of a clue as to what Mr. Ellis was trying to say. And go.) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Task from a psycholinguistic perspective <ul><li>The way I interpreted it: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A task is a process that learners engage in that will be beneficial to acquiring language. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Three Theoretical Positions <ul><li>Long’s Interaction Hypothesis </li></ul><ul><li>Skehan’s Cognitive Approach </li></ul><ul><li>Yule’s Model of Communicative Effectiveness </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Interaction Hypothesis <ul><li>Long proposes that language acquisition is aided when learners try to reach an understanding when communication breaks down. </li></ul><ul><li>“…what is important for acquisition is the opportunity for learners to engage in meaning negotiation” (Ellis, 2000, p. 199). </li></ul>
  9. 9. Skehan’s Cognitive Approach <ul><li>“ This approach is based on a distinction in the way in which learners are believed to represent L2 knowledge. Learners (like native speakers) construct both an exemplar-based system and a rule-based system (Ellis, 2000, p. 201) </li></ul><ul><li>Skehan proposes the idea that L2 learners learn through imitation as well as by following rules presented to them. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Skehan’s Cognitive Approach <ul><li>Skehan’s research focuses on three areas: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fluency, Accuracy, and Complexity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Fluency requires memorization of necessary “chunks of language” that the learner can draw on from memory </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Accuracy and Complexity require learned and practiced rules </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Yule’s Model of Communicative Effectiveness <ul><li>“ Yule (1997) distinguishes two broad dimensions of communicative effectiveness: (1) the identification-of-referent dimension and (2) the role-taking dimension” (Ellis, 2000, p. 204). </li></ul><ul><li>Learners must convey an understanding of the referents and be able to compare one to another. </li></ul><ul><li>They also have to be able to work with the partners with whom they are communicating – they almost need to be able to put themselves in their partner’s shoes. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Yule’s Model of Communicative Effectiveness <ul><li>In his research, Yule looks at the actual outcome of the task as opposed to whether or not the learners have achieved the desired goal of the task. </li></ul><ul><li>Yule’s study proposes “…that repeating a task not only results in greater communicative efficiency but also affects the kind of strategies learners use to tackle referential problems” (Ellis, 2000, p. 206). </li></ul><ul><li>Yule’s theory also takes into account that all people learn differently, so learners will have different ways of approaching tasks. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Evaluating the psycholinguistic perspective <ul><li>More research needs to be done in this area </li></ul><ul><li>There are drawbacks – many variables to consider: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Learner factors – all learners learn differently </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Setting – lab vs. classroom </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Whole class vs. pairs or small groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Role of the teacher </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Antecedent to task – what happened before the task was done? </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Task from a Socio-Cultural Perspective <ul><li>According to socio-cultural theory, the learner’s culture informs the activity. </li></ul><ul><li>“Implicit in socio-cultural accounts of tasks is the view that the same task can result in very different kinds of activity when performed by the same learners at different times” (Ellis, 2000, p.208). </li></ul>
  15. 15. Task from a Socio-Cultural Perspective <ul><li>“ In order to perform a task, learners have to interpret it” (Ellis, 2000, p. 209). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ellis cites an example in which L2 Spanish learners are given a task. The learners conversed about the task in the L1 and then proceeded to complete it. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ According to socio-cultural theory, learning arises not through interaction, but in interaction” (p. 209). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Learners work together to complete a task so that they can internalize it individually. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Socio-Cultural Theory vs. Psycholinguistic Theory <ul><li>“ Whereas researchers in the psycholinguistic tradition have emphasised the role of the inherent task properties on performance and acquisition, socio-cultural researchers have focused on how tasks are accomplished by learners and teachers and how the process of accomplishing them might contribute to language acquisition” (Ellis, 2000, p. 210). </li></ul>
  17. 17. Criticism of Socio-Cultural Theory <ul><li>Ellis (2000) argues that it is possible to confuse completion of task with language acquisition. Learners may be able to achieve task completion, but they may not internalize the information to use the skill later (p. 211). </li></ul>
  18. 18. Tasks in language pedagogy <ul><li>The goal of task-based instruction could be communicative effectiveness or language acquisition. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>See list of Willis’ purposes of task-based language instruction on p. 212 </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Tasks in language pedagogy <ul><li>Ellis (2000) discusses Van Lier’s description of planning and improvisation as two aspects of ‘balanced’ teaching </li></ul><ul><li>“ Balanced teaching involves teachers moving back and forwards between planned and improvised decision-making in the course of a lesson” (Ellis, 2000, p. 214-215). </li></ul>
  20. 20. Tasks in language pedagogy <ul><li>Psycholinguistic research aids in planning </li></ul><ul><li>Socio-cultural research can inform the improvised aspects of teaching </li></ul><ul><li>“ From a pedagogic perspective, then, the two research traditions need not be seen as incompatible. Rather they mutually inform task-based instruction” (Ellis, 2000, p. 215). </li></ul>