Referential Communication Tasks

Referential Communication Tasks

Referential Communication Tasks

Referential Communication Tasks

Synopsis

Referential communication is the term given to communicative acts, generally spoken, in which some kind of information is exchanged between one speaker and another. This information exchange is typically dependent on successful acts of reference, whereby entities (human and non-human) are identified (by naming or describing), are located or moved relative to other entities (by giving instructions or directions), or are followed through sequences of locations and events (by recounting an incident or a narrative). These "activities" are examples of events that are more typically described as "tasks" in the area of second language studies. These might be real world tasks encountered in everyday experience or pedagogical tasks specifically designed for second language classroom use.

This volume comprehensively documents and describes the veritable explosion of task-based research in language acquisition. In a succinct, yet easily accessible fashion, it presents the origins, principles, and key distinctions of referential communication research in first and second language studies, complete with exhaustive analyses and illustrations of different types of materials. The author also describes and evaluates different choices for using or modifying these materials, provides analytic frameworks for focusing on various aspects of the data elicited by these tasks, and includes an extensive bibliography plus an appendix showing original task materials.

Excerpt

This series is born of our belief that to adequately understand conclusions drawn from second language acquisition research, one must understand the methodology that is used to elicit data for that research. The concern with research methodology is common in all fields, but it takes on particular significance in second language research given the interdisciplinary nature of the field and the varying perspectives of second language researchers. Within a single common field, we have psychologists talking to linguists; we have sociolinguists concerned with variation talking to sociolinguists concerned with pragmatics; we have ethnographers talking to generative grammarians. Although all of this is healthy for the long-term outcome of the field, it is problematic in that researchers bring with them research traditions from their own disciplines. Again, this is ultimately healthy, but can lead to serious misunderstandings, in the short term, of the value of a particular elicitation instrument. As a result, research traditions are "attacked" through their methodologies without a full understanding of what linguistic/psycholinguistic/sociolinguistic knowledge or abilities a particular instrument is intended to tap. This series of monographs is an attempt to bring to light just these issues.

The series consists of monographs, each devoted to a particular data-collection method or instrument. Each monograph probes a specific research method or tool, discussing the history of the instrument as well as its current uses. A major feature of each monograph is an exploration of what the research instrument does and does not purport to tell us about second language acquisition or use. Each monograph addresses the kinds of research questions for which the method or instrument is best suited, its underlying assumptions, a characterization of the method or instrument, and an extended description of its use . . .

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