Second Language Acquisition Processes in the Classroom: Learning Japanese

By Amy Snyder Ohta | Go to book overview

Chapter 6—
From Task to Activity:
Relating Task Design and Implementation to Language Use in Peer Interaction

In analyzing data for the first five chapters of this book, questions in addition to those addressed in each chapter continued to emerge. In particular, when looking at learner activity as realized in the implementation of various language learning tasks, various factors emerged that appear to impact what happens during task performance. These include features of instructional style, task design, task implementation conditions, and learner orientations. This chapter is different from the five preceding it. This chapter queries the classroom corpus for information regarding how task design and implementation impact learner activity in the L2 classroom. Even for learners in the same classroom, tasks are implemented under different conditions. The “same task” is never really “the same, ” even for learners who are working side by side. Students come to class with different levels of preparation, exhibit different levels of engagement, and have different understandings of tasks. Individuals have their own dispositions toward language learning. Some, such as a learner's propensity to be active and involved or to avoid participation, may seem relatively stable. Other learner orientations to classroom activities may vary from day to day depending on the pressures impacting the learner. And, different groupings or pairings of students may also have an effect, depending on whether or not a peer interlocutor is engaged in the task. The inactive, uninvolved student who works with a similar peer may behave differently when paired with a highly engaged interlocutor. As Coughlan and Duff (1994) noted in their aptly titled article, “Same Task Different Activities, ” even under experimental conditions with a repeated task design, different learners have different understandings of identical tasks and the same individual

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