Task repetition effects on CAF in EFL child task-based oral interaction


Abstract  Tasks have been widely used in second language acquisition (SLA) research as relevant tools to explore language learning opportunities available to second/foreign language (L2/FL) learners (García Mayo 2007; Samuda and Bygate 2008). Some of that research has focused on the effects of task repetition on learners’ oral production and has shown the benefits of this task implementation variable for subsequent L2 learning (Bygate 2001; Kim and Tracy-Ventura 2013 – but see Kim 2013 for a different view). Research on task repetition has mainly focused on adult and adolescent populations but research with young learners is scarce. Previous SLA research has highlighted the cognitive, social, emotional and contextual factors that make young L2 learners differ from adult L2 learners (see Philp, Oliver and Mackey 2008 for details). Although there are features that occur in adult and child interaction (off-task behaviour, disagreements, etc.), these are qualitatively different and often less confrontational among adults because “children are less bound by the constraints of task conditions in their interaction, as well as by social norms” (Philp, Oliver and Mackey 2008: 8). Clearly, there is a need for detailed descriptions of the characteristics of children’s L2 development and of those task implementation features that might enhance their language learning opportunities. Research on task repetition is scarce and more so in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) settings (Pinter 2007; Shintani 2012, 2014) where exposure to the target language is limited to the classroom. As recently pointed out by Collins and Muñoz (2016), children in EFL contexts are a relevant group to consider. Most European countries have mandated an early exposure to the foreign language and teachers should be informed about valuable pedagogical tools they may want to use to increase their students’ chances to improve their competence in the target language in low-input conditions. Two recent studies (Bret Blasco 2014; Sample and Michel 2014) have focused on the impact of task repetition on young learners’ oral complexity, accuracy and fluency. They have reported a significant increase of fluency through task repetition but mixed findings regarding complexity and accuracy, which were probably due to the small sample of participants. The present study is an attempt to shed more light on previous findings by analysing the effects of task repetition on the oral production of a large number (n=120) of child EFL learners in Spain. Our findings point to a significant impact of task repetition on fluency and accuracy and mixed findings regarding trade-off effects (Skehan 2009) in those two constructs as well.

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