Academic journal article Italica

Students Learning through Recording, Transcribing and Editing Their Task Performances in Second-Semester Italian

Academic journal article Italica

Students Learning through Recording, Transcribing and Editing Their Task Performances in Second-Semester Italian

Article excerpt

1. Self-transcript research in Second Language Acquisition

Research-based teaching methodologies that utilize self-transcripts have been around for well over a decade. Published accounts of this methodology seem to have dealt exclusively with English as a target language. This paper builds on such research and adds Italian as a second language (L2) to that research base.

Lynch describes the use of self-transcripts in an advanced English as a Second Language class ("Seeing" 126). The model he describes there (learners transcribe a recorded performance of a routine classroom activity and then work collaboratively to edit it and improve it) informs the model presented in this paper. In a later article, he comments that this process "draws the learners' attention to language form and use in a relatively natural way, and without the direct intervention of the teacher," ("Learning" 311). He also explores a potential drawback to the use of self-transcripts with large classes: how feasible is it to manage the recording, transcribing and editing of performances in class? His answer to the feasibility question was, yes, self-transcripts are a suitable instrument to manage in actual classrooms, especially when a language lab is utilized for part of the cycle. These findings have also influenced the model presented in this paper.

Mennim describes the effects of a rehearsal with self-transcripts. Students privately rehearse a task performance which is recorded and transcribed before doing the final performance two weeks later. In the meantime, student editing and teacher feedback takes place. The process of rehearsal appears to bring improvements to the learners' pronunciation, grammar and organization skills ("Rehearsed" 133).

Similar to Mennim's study described above, Hawkes records learners both before and after a form-focus stage. In so doing, he attempts to respond to some of the concerns about task-based instruction's (TBI) effectiveness in teaching grammatical form. His study features two recordings of the same task. The second recording, after grammatical form was emphasized, showed greater attention to form. Therefore his study successfully defends the premise that TBI can effectively teach specific forms.

Using self-transcripts, a group of authors attempts to measure students' perceptions of their improvements in terms of fluency, complexity and accuracy. While most students did recognize task-based benefits in terms of their fluency and accuracy gains, almost all students did not notice differences in their complexity. The authors conclude with a list of TBI variables to consider implementing while using self-transcripts (Stillwell et al.).

A subsequent study by Mennim looks at self-transcripts from more of a socio-cultural point of view. In this study, students make transcripts of an earlier classroom exercise and are then paired up and recorded again as they discuss their original recording/transcripts with a partner. This type of pair work resulted in rich collaborative negotiation of grammatical form and extended language-related discussions. The author then comments on these recorded discussions and their presumed benefits for language development. Of particular relevance to this paper is Mennim's comment that "self transcription [is] an effective way of generating discussion about language and encouraging learners to think about their own language use" ("Learner Negotiation" 61).

2. Context for the self-transcripts reported in this paper

The methodology and the student reflections shared in this paper come from a second semester Italian class (Italian 102), in which TBI was the umbrella teaching approach. The class was very large; it started with 32 students but only 29 completed the semester.

The TBI model combines copious, collaborative input and opportunities for meaningful output (Means). It is based on a three-phase task cycle of pre-task, during-task, and post-task. …

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