Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Impact of Planning Strategies on the Efl Learners' Writing Performance across Different Task Types

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Impact of Planning Strategies on the Efl Learners' Writing Performance across Different Task Types

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Good writing skills are not naturally acquired ones; they are typically learned well or developed as a set of practices in formal instructional settings. Thus, writing skills require practice, and they are generally learned through experience. Writing is a medium of communication, which implies the command of both telling and retelling pieces of information in numerous forms as in narrative, descriptive, expository or argumentative texts (Hyland, 2013).

Previous research indicates that task type is an important variable both in how learners approach language production and in how it affects the fluency, accuracy, and complexity of language products. Foster and Skehan have conducted several studies on task type within the cognitive research framework (Foster & Skehan, 1996; Skehan & Foster, 1997; Skehan, 1998, Foster & Skehan, 1999; Skehan, 2003). They believe that learners' attentional resources are limited and there should be a competition between the three aspects of fluency, accuracy, and complexity in order to attract the learners' attention. Moreover, in order to give a balanced attention to both form and meaning in the task-based approach to language instruction, the second language acquisition (SLA) researchers have investigated the effect of providing planning time to ensure the learners would focus on form and meaning simultaneously (Skehan, 1996; Skehan & Foster,1999; Yuan,2001).

There are different types of planning in task-based language teaching. Ellis (2005) divided task-based planning into two main types: pre-task planning which includes rehearsal and strategic planning, and within-task planning classified as pressed and un-pressed planning.

2.Review of the Related Literature

A considerable body of research has suggested that allowing learners time to plan their performance before the actual task performance leads them to produce more fluent (Foster & Skehan, 1996; Mehnert, 1998; Ortega, 1999), accurate (Ellis, 1987; Foster & Skehan, 1999; Mehnert, 1998; Ortega, 1999), and complex L2 speech (Foster & Skehan, 1996; Mehnert, 1998; Ortega, 1999).

2.1 Task Planning

Researchers have investigated planning from a variety of perspectives such as different types of planning (Foster & Skehan, 1996; Sangarun, 2005); different amounts of planning time (Mehnert, 1998); planning and different task types (Foster & Skehan, 1996); effects of planning on different levels of proficiency (Kawauchi, 2005), and what learners do when they plan (Ortega, 1999). In general, studies have shown the positive impact of planning on performance; however, the accomplishments do not appear to be achieved to the same extent for the diverse aspects of performance (fluency, accuracy and complexity) since these aspects compete for learners' limited capacity of attentional resources (Foster & Skehan, 1996; Mehnert, 1998).

According to Ellis (2005, p. 3) task planning is divided into two main types. This distinction is in terms of when planning takes place: pre-task planning and within-task planning (online planning). Pre-task planning takes place prior to the task performance. Ellis (2005) points out that pre-task planning is different from pre-task activities, such as brainstorming, in terms of access to the task materials. During pre-task planning, learners receive the actual materials for the task, whereas during the pre-task activities, learners do not have access to the materials that they are going to use to perform the task.

On-line planning, which is also referred to as within-task planning, is a type of planning that is available while engaging in task performance. In research on writing, planning has been viewed as one of the several processes involved in the production of written texts (Ellis & Yuan, 2004). Planning is considered as an independent variable in SLA and one of the most significant processes involved in the written production. …

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