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Tasks and Teacher Feedback in the Spanish Foreign Language Classroom

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1 Tasks and Teacher Feedback in the Spanish Foreign Language Classroom
Laura Gurzynski-Weiss Georgetown University Andrea Révész Lancaster University Tasks and Teacher Feedback in the Spanish Foreign Language Classroom

2 Introduction: Feedback Research
Corrective feedback focus of SLA research for decades Numerous studies have set out to determine the incidence, utility and/or efficacy of corrective feedback in promoting L2 acquisitional processes Beneficial role of corrective feedback now well established (Keck, Iberri-Shea, Tracy-Ventura & Wa-Mbaleka, 2006; Russell & Spada, 2006) Recent focus on investigating how corrective feedback facilitates L2 learning (e.g., Mackey, 2007) One of the key areas of current interest is the nature of the relationships among corrective feedback techniques, learner internal and external factors, and L2 outcomes

3 Introduction: Feedback Research
A number of factors have been identified as mediating these relationships, including: Age (Mackey, Oliver & Leeman, 2003) Developmental readiness (e.g., Long, Inagaki, & Ortega, 1998; Mackey & Philp, 1998; Philp, 2003) Context of learning (e.g., R. Ellis, Basturkmen, & Loewen, 2001; Lyster & Mori, 2006; Sheen, 2004) Type of linguistic target (e.g., R. Ellis, 2007; Jeon, 2007; Long, 2007) Type of feedback (Kim & Han, 2007; Loewen & Philp, 2006; Lyster, 1998) Individual differences in cognitive variables, such as working memory (e.g., Mackey, Philp, Egi, Fujii, & Tatsumi, 2002; Sagarra, 2007a; Trofimovich, Ammar, & Gatbonton, 2007) Construct of task has also received a considerable amount of attention as a factor modulating the effects of corrective feedback on SLA (Long, 2007; Robinson, 2001a, 2003a, 2005a)

4 Tasks and Interactional Feedback
Already two decades ago, mainly inspired by the Interaction Hypothesis (Gass, 1997; Long, 1991, 1996; Pica, 1994), researchers set out to identify task variables that may generate and promote the incidence of interactional features, hypothesized to promote SLA (see Ellis, 2003 for a summary) Recent investigations into how task variables may affect the relationship between corrective feedback and L2 development (Nuevo, 2006; Révész, 2009) Most of previous research, however, has been quasi-experimental or experimental in nature

5 Limitations of Previous Research
To date, little observational research exists that has investigated corrective feedback in relation to task variables during naturally occurring interaction in classroom settings Current study sought to bridge this gap by exploring the quantity and quality of teacher feedback in the intermediate-level Spanish FL classroom depending on two task-related variables: (1) whether feedback is provided during pre-, during-, and post-task work, and (2) whether it occurs during the performance of focused vs. unfocused tasks

6 Operationalizing ‘Task’
Ellis’s (2003) definition of a task was adopted for the present study According to Ellis, tasks have six criterial properties A task: (1) is a workplan, (2) involves a primary focus on meaning, (3) entails real-world processes of language use, (4) involves any of the four skills, (5) engages cognitive processes, and (6) has a clearly defined communicative outcome.

7 Operationalizing Task Phases
The pre-task, during task, and post-task phases were, again, defined following Ellis (2003): Pre-task phase: Activities that teachers and students carried out prior to starting a task e.g., pre-task planning, framing the activity During-task phase: The performance of the task itself Post-task phase: Activities and procedures that followed up on task performance e.g., repeat performance, review of errors, and other focus on forms-type activities

8 Rationale for Investigating Task Phases
Our rationale for investigating these three task phases was two-fold: (1) Given the distinct aims and nature of the pre-, during, and post-task stages, they are likely to engage teachers and students in different interactional and cognitive processes These, in turn, are expected to affect the patterns of teacher feedback provision (2) When designing task-based or task–supported lessons, teachers widely use this three-phase task cycle (Ellis, 2003; Samuda & Bygate, 2008; Willis, 1996) But despite its wide appeal among practitioners, the framework has been subjected to little empirical research to date

9 Operationalizing Task Focus
Following Newton & Kennedy (1996) and Ellis (2003): Focused tasks: Tasks that were designed, and appeared, to induce the use of specific language features Example: create a personal ad seeking ideal mate while using the subjunctive mood Unfocused tasks: Tasks which were not designed and did not seem to elicit a specific construction Example: talk about a significant other

10 Rationale for Investigating Task Focus
Nature of the context in which the study took place: task-supported rather than purely task-based setting Tasks not used as the basic unit of syllabus Syllabus was based on topics and linguistic constructions Tasks often used to provide learners with communicative practice in the use of specific grammatical constructions In this context, a considerable number of focused tasks were expected, and we were interested in exploring whether feedback patterns were influenced by this design feature, and if so, how

11 Research Questions In intermediate-level Spanish FL classrooms:
Are there differences in the quantity and quality of teacher feedback (1) during pre-, during-, and post-task work? (2) during focused vs. unfocused tasks?

12 Site of Data Collection
23 intermediate-level (4th semester) Spanish lessons at a private research university in the eastern United States Communicative-based language program Instructors use the same textbook, syllabus, quizzes, exams, and grading rubrics Lessons in the textbook are organized by topic Grammar and vocabulary are highlighted separately in each chapter, along with communicative activities designed for students to synthesize the new information Class-time reserved for communicative practice of specific linguistic item(s) in context of a certain topic Task-supported setting, rather than task-based  

13 Observed Instructors 9 intermediate-level Spanish instructors 8 instructors took a teaching methodology course Including use of tasks & feedback in meaning-based class 5 NS speakers of Spanish, 4 NNSs 4 males, 5 females 7 graduate students; 2 lecturers For 7 of the instructors, three 50- minute lessons were recorded For 2 of the instructors, one 50-minute lesson of each instructor was videotaped In total, twenty-three 50-minute classroom recordings were collected

14 Procedure Data was collected over 4 days; all lessons targeted grammar
Lessons were videotaped using a Mini-DV camera on a tripod in the back of the classroom Researchers not present during data collection Lesson plans obtained after recordings completed A third researcher coded 1/3 of all the data to ensure coding reliability

15 Coding of Tasks Step 2: Task phases: Step 3: Task focus:
Step 1: Task identification: Tasks were identified using Ellis’s (2003) six criterion In order to qualify as a task in the current study, all six critical features needed to be present Inter-rater reliability for task identification: 92% Step 2: Task phases: Tasks were further broken down into pre-, during, and post-task phases (Ellis, 2003) Inter-rater reliability for task phase: 99% Step 3: Task focus: Third, tasks were coded as focused or unfocused (Ellis, 2003) Inter-rater reliability for task focus: 93%

16 Coding: Type of Feedback
Teacher-student interactions were transcribed and coded for type of oral corrective feedback provided Feedback categories included: Recasts, confirmation checks, metalinguistic information, clarification request, negotiation, elaboration, elicitation, overt correction and no feedback Feedback types were further categorized as implicit and explicit for analytical purposes Implicit: Recasts, confirmation checks, negotiations, elaborations, elicitations, & clarification requests Explicit: Overt corrections & metalinguistic info. (Long, 1996) Inter-rater reliability for type of feedback: 90%

17 Results: RQ 1 - Quantity and quality of teacher feedback as a function of task stages
Overall, 27 tasks were identified in the dataset. All could be divided into a pre-task, during task, and post-task phase. 297 errors occurred in total: 297 6

18 Results: RQ 1 - Quantity and quality of teacher feedback as a function of task stages
Overall, 70% of errors were addressed with corrective feedback Pre-task > Post-task > During-task 72% feedback 70% feedback 47% feedback 83% feedback

19 A chi-square test: significant relationship.
Results: RQ 1 - Quantity and quality of teacher feedback as a function of task stages Overall, 70% of errors were addressed with corrective feedback Pre-task > Post-task > During-task A chi-square test: significant relationship. 72% feedback 70% feedback 47% feedback 83% feedback

20 Results: RQ 1 - Quantity and quality of teacher feedback as a function of task stages
Implicit feedback provided more than explicit in each task phase

21 Results: RQ 1 - Quantity and quality of teacher feedback as a function of task stages
A chi-square test: instructors were significantly more likely to provide implicit feedback during the post-task phase than the during-task phase.

22 Summary: Research question 1
Task factor Quantity of feedback Quality of feedback Task stages More feedback in post-task than during-task phase More implicit feedback in post-task than during-task phase

23 Discussion: RQ 1 – More implicit feedback in post-task than during-task stage
Perhaps a discrepancy in the different nature of the errors that arose in during- and post-task phases? Assumption based on the results of previous classroom studies (e.g., Lyster, 1998a; Mackey et al., 2001): feedback provided in response to morphosyntactic errors tends to be more implicit in nature than feedback targeting lexical and phonological errors. A follow-up analysis proved our speculation incorrect. The distribution of errors – morphosyntactic, lexical, and phonological – was similar in the during-task versus post-task phase. In both task stages, 60% of the errors were morphosyntactic in nature.

24 Discussion: RQ 1 – More implicit feedback in post-task than during-task stage (continued)
Perhaps teachers’ intentions differed regarding feedback provision during the two stages? This idea supported by observational data. During the task: teachers walked around and answered questions if solicited by students. In this case, teachers might have been less concerned about diverting learners’ attention away from meaning, as students had already deviated from the normal course of task-based interaction by making an effort to capture the teacher’s attention.

25 Discussion: RQ 1 – More implicit feedback in post-task than during-task stage (continued)
In the post-task phase: students were normally asked to share their responses with the whole class or participate in more in-depth discussions of a particular topic. Teachers might have been more inclined to keep the overall focus on meaning rather than encourage a focus on accuracy. Could explain reliance on implicit feedback strategies, since these are less likely to interrupt the flow of meaning-based communication than explicit strategies. Future studies could investigate these possibilities via stimulated recalls or teacher interviews.

26 Results: RQ 2 - Quantity and quality of teacher feedback during focused vs. unfocused tasks
Of the 27 tasks, 13 were categorized as focused; 14 as unfocused More errors identified in unfocused tasks than in focused tasks 174 123

27 A chi-square test: significant relationship.
Results: RQ 2 - Quantity and quality of teacher feedback during focused vs. unfocused tasks Unfocused tasks > focused tasks A chi-square test: significant relationship. 70.0% feedback 59.0% feedback

28 A chi-square test: no significant relationship.
Results: RQ 2 - Quantity and quality of teacher feedback during focused vs. unfocused tasks Implicit feedback provided a bit more frequently than explicit feedback during focused as compared to unfocused tasks . A chi-square test: no significant relationship.

29 Summary: Research question 2
Task factor Quantity of feedback Quality of feedback Task stages More feedback in post-task than during-task phase More implicit feedback in post-task than during-task phase Focused vs. unfocused More feedback during unfocused compared to focused tasks No significant relationship

30 Match/mismatch between linguistic foci of feedback and task: Quality
One reason for the lack of significant findings could be that our analysis did not consider whether the errors matched or did not match the linguistic focus of the task. A follow-up analysis confirmed our speculation

31 A chi-square test: significant relationship.
Match/mismatch between linguistic foci of feedback and task: Quality Almost all the feedback was implicit when there was no overlap, whereas only slightly more implicit feedback was provided when there was a match between the linguistic targets of the task and feedback. A chi-square test: significant relationship.

32 Summary: Follow-up analysis
Task factor Quantity of feedback Quality of feedback Task stages More feedback in post-task than during-task phase More implicit feedback in post-task than during-task phase Focused vs. unfocused More feedback during unfocused compared to focused tasks No significant relationship Focused tasks More implicit feedback when no overlap between the linguistic focus of the task and feedback

33 Conclusions As predicted, task-related variables did seem to affect the quantity and quality of teacher feedback patterns. The quantity and quality of feedback provided varied as a function of task stages: Feedback was more likely to occur in the post-task compared to the during-task phase. Implicit feedback was more frequently provided in the post-task compared to the during-task phase. The quantity of feedback differed during focused versus unfocused tasks More feedback was supplied during unfocused tasks. During focused tasks, the quality of teacher feedback differed depending on whether there was a match/ mismatch between the linguistic targets of the task and the feedback.   Almost all errors were addressed with implicit feedback when there was a mismatch. When there was a match, implicit feedback was only slightly more likely to occur than explicit feedback.

34 Limitations Results limited to intermediate-level Spanish FL classrooms Camera captured classroom-centered interaction only Unequal number of lessons videotaped per instructor

35 Directions for Future Research
Other languages and levels Coding for opportunities for and incidence of modified output Examine additional instructor individual difference data to investigate potential relationships between IDs and use of feedback during task-based work Utilize introspective measures such as SR protocols to uncover reasoning behind teachers’ in-class task and feedback-related decisions Compare feedback provision during task and non-task work Investigation of how accuracy, complexity, and fluency of learner production is influenced by task factors in naturally occurring classroom interaction Examine additional task variables such as task complexity

36 References Ellis, R. (2003). Task-based Language Learning and Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ellis, R. (2007). The differential effects of corrective feedback on two grammatical structures. In A. Mackey (Ed.). Conversational Interaction and Second Language Acquisition: A Series of Empirical Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ellis, R., H. Basturkmen, & S. Loewen (2001). Learner uptake in communicative ESL lessons. Language Learning, 51, Gass, S. (1997). Input, Interaction and the Second Language Learner. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum. Keck, C. M., G. Iberri-Shea, N. Tracy-Ventura, & S. Wa-Mbaleka. (2006). Investigating the empirical link between task-based interaction and acquisition: A meta-analysis. In J. M. Norris & L. Ortega (Eds.). Synthesizing Research on Language Learning and Teaching. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins. Jeon , K. S . ( 2007 ). Interaction-driven L2 learning: Characterizing linguistic development . In A. Mackey (Ed.), Conversational interaction in second language acquisition: A series of empirical studies (pp. 379 – 403 ). Oxford : Oxford University Press . Kim , J. H. , & Han , Z. ( 2007 ). Recasts in communicative EFL classes: Do teacher intent and learner interpretation overlap? In A. Mackey (Ed.), Conversational interaction in second language acquisition: A series of empirical studies (pp. 269 – 297 ). Oxford : Oxford University Press . Loewen, S. & J. Philp (2006). Recasts in the adult English L2 classroom: Characteristics, explicitness, and effectiveness. The Modern Language Journal, 90, Long, M. (1991). Focus on form: A design feature in language teaching methodology. In K. de Bot, R. Ginsberg, & C. Kramsch (Eds.). Foreign Language Research in Cross-cultural Perspective. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Long, M. (1996). The role of the linguistic environment in second language acquisition. In W. Ritchie & T. Bahtia (Eds). Handbook of Second Language Acquisition. San Diego: Academic Press. Long, M. (2007). Recasts: The story so far. In M. H. Long (Ed.), Problems in SLA. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Long, M., S. Inagaki, & L. Ortega (1998). The role of implicit negative feedback in SLA: Models and recasts in Japanese and Spanish. The Modern Language Journal, 82(3), Lyster, R. (1998a). Negotiation of form, recasts, and explicit error correction in relation to error types and learner repair in immersion classrooms. Language Learning, 48,

37 References Lyster, R. & H. Mori (2006). Interactional feedback and instructional counterbalance. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 28, Mackey, A. (Ed.) (2007). Conversational Interaction In Second Language Acquisition: A Collection of Empirical Studies. Mackey, A. & J. Philp (1998). Conversational interaction and second language development: Recasts, responses, and red herrings? The Modern Language Journal, 82(3), Mackey, A., K. McDonough, A. Fujii, & T. Tatsumi. (2001). Investigating learners’ reports about the L2 classroom. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 39(4), Mackey, A., J. Philp, T. Egi, A. Fujii, & T. Tatsumi (2002). Individual differences in working memory, noticing of feedback and L2 development. In P. Robinson (Ed.). Individiual Differences in L2 Learning. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Mackey, A., R. Oliver & J. Leeman (2003). Interactional input and the incorporation of feedback: an exploration of NS–NNS and NNS–NNS adult and child dyads. Language Learning, 53, 35–66. Newton, J., & G. Kennedy, (1996). Effects of communication tasks on the grammatical relations marked by second language learners. System, 24(3), Nuevo, A. M. (2006). Task complexity and interaction: L2 learning opportunities and interaction. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Georgetown University, Washington DC. Pica, T. (1994). Research on negotiation: What does it reveal about second-language learning conditions, processes, and outcomes? Language Learning, 44, Philp, J. (2003). Constraints on ‘noticing the gap’: Non-native speakers’ noticing of recasts in NS-NNS interaction. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 25, Révész, A. (2009). Task complexity, focus on form, and second language development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 30, Robinson, P. (Ed.) (2001a). Cognition and Second Language Instruction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Robinson, P. (2003). Attention and memory in SLA. In C. Doughty & M. Long (Eds). Handbook of a Second Language Acquisition. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

38 References Robinson, P. (2005a). Aptitude and second language acquisition. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 25, Russell, J. & N. Spada (2006). The effectiveness of corrective feedack for the acquisition of L2 grammar: A meta-analysis of the research. In J. M. Norris & L. Ortega (Eds.). Synthesizing Research on Language Learning and Teaching. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins. Sagarra, N. (2007a). From CALL to face-to-face interaction: the effect of computer-delivered recasts and working memory on L2 development. In A. Mackey (Ed.), Conversational interaction in second language acquisition: A series of empirical studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Samuda, V. & Bygate, M. (2008). Tasks in second language learning. Palgrave MacMillan. Sheen, Y. (2004). Corrective feedback and learner uptake in communicative classrooms across instructional settings. Language Teaching Research, 8, Trofimovich, Ammar, & Gatbonton, (2007). How effective are recasts? The role of attention, memory, and analytical ability. In A. Mackey (Ed.), Conversational interaction in second language acquisition: A collection of empirical studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Willis, J. (2006). A Framework for Task-Based Learning. London: Longman.


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