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Creating Structure-Based Communication Tasks for Second Language Development

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Title: Creating Structure-Based Communication Tasks for Second Language Development
Authors: Loschky, Lester
Bley-Vroman, Robert
Issue Date: 1990
Abstract: Task based language teaching has gained favor among both second language teachers and researchers over the last decade. Arguments for the value of a "focus on fonn" and attention to forms in input have also been made by several SLA researchers, thus pointing to a role for grammar instruction in classroom SLA. It is suggested here that the use of communicative and meaningful classroom tasks can focus learners' attention on grammatical forms in input and, thus, facilitate their acquisition
This proposal differs from other recent treatments of communicative grammar instruction in its emphasis on the following areas: 1) "closed" rather than "()pen" tasks; 2) comprehension-based before production-based tasks; 3) grammatical targets which have clear form-meaning relationships. Thus, while the proposal is more narrow in scope than some other treatments, it is much more specific: i.e., it proposes tasks in which communicative outcomes can be predicted and manipulated in advance by the designer and in which grammatical form and meaning are tightly linked. Such tasks are similar to those used to test learners' language processing capabilities in psycholinguistic research, though here they are used for pedagogical purposes. Examples include tasks covering a wide range of syntactic categories and functions.
ln conclusion, we argue for an approach to designing tasks which incorporates: 1) a cognitive perspective on SLA and language processing, 2) insights from research on communicative task design from second language research, and 3) methods of measuring language development from psycholinguistics and inter1anguage variation studies. By combining these with language teachers' careful observations of their students' problems in comprehending and being comprehended, meaning and communicative tasks for grammar pedagogy can be designed.
Pages/Duration: 52 pages
Appears in Collections:Working Papers

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