The Efficacy of Setting Process Goals in Orienting EFL Learners to Attend to the Formal Aspects of Oral Production

| March 25, 2009
Title
The Efficacy of Setting Process Goals in Orienting EFL Learners to Attend to the Formal Aspects of Oral Production

Keywords: English as a foreign language (EFL), goal-setting, oral communication, focus on form

Authors
Shu-Chen Huang
National Chengchi University, China Taipei, Taiwan

Bio Data
Shu-Chen Huang is an Assistant Professor in the Foreign Language Center at National Chengchi University, China Taipei, Taiwan. Her research interests center on learning motivation and oral skill development. She has published in international journals such as the Journal of English for Academic Purposes, System, IRAL: International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, etc.

Abstract
Breaking down and setting process goals have been shown to facilitate the learning of foreign/second language reading and writing. Whether the same goal-setting mechanism works as well in real-time EFL speaking tasks needs further investigation. This study explored the efficacy of setting form-focused process goals for EFL learners when they perform an oral communication task. Seventy-two college students were randomly paired within three experimental groups form-focused, meaning-focused, and no goal for a ten-minute communication task and their dialogues were transcribed and analyzed in terms of the quality (number of c-units, number of words per c-units, type-token ration, and error rates) and quantity (number of words and turn counts) of oral output. Statistical analyses indicated that setting a form-focused process goal did not make a difference when learners performed the oral task. The contradiction between this study and previous ones suggests that the dominance of product goals in real-time communication made explicit attention to form in the process difficult. In addition, level of learner involvement may have been lower when an explicit process goal was present.

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Category: Quarterly Journal, Volume 11 Issue 1