Researching the Influence of Target Language on Learner Task Performance

| September 29, 2006
Researching the Influence of Target Language on Learner Task Performance

Keywords: Task-based learning, focus on form, target forms, pre-task language focus

Theron Muller
Noah Learning Center, Seisen Women’s Junior College, Japan

Bio Data
Theron Muller lives and teaches in Nagano, Japan. He received his MA in TEFL/TESL from the University of Birmingham in 2004, and is currently a Japan tutor for the program. His interests include task-based learning and culture differences. He is a contributor to Teachers Exploring Tasks, edited by Jane Willis and Corony Edwards, which won a 2005 British Council Innovation Award.

There has been talk in TBL of the dangers of giving students target language before or during the pre-task because students may use the subsequent task to practice target forms and not focus on communication (Ellis, 2003, p. 246). Textbooks are often considered culprits in this predetermination of language forms (Willis, 1990), as model dialogs lock students into particular grammatical forms and restrict student vocabulary, thus reducing the communicative value of a task. This research addresses the concern of supplying learners with target language forms during the pre-task phase. Suggested phrases from the textbook were introduced before the task, but students were encouraged to also use their own ideas in task completion. Whether students deviated from or remained bound by the suggested forms and vocabulary during task completion was analyzed. Thirty-six student performances on a task were analyzed. Preliminary results indicate students use textbook language as a scaffold, employ unique vocabulary not included in the textbook, and do not vary grammatical forms.

See pages 165-173

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Category: Main Editions, Volume 8 Issue 3