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The relation between cognitive task complexity and linguistic performance in L2 writing Folkert Kuiken & Ineke Vedder ACLC, University of Amsterdam, The.

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Presentation on theme: "The relation between cognitive task complexity and linguistic performance in L2 writing Folkert Kuiken & Ineke Vedder ACLC, University of Amsterdam, The."— Presentation transcript:

1 The relation between cognitive task complexity and linguistic performance in L2 writing Folkert Kuiken & Ineke Vedder ACLC, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands Task Based Language Teaching, Leuven September 22, 2005

2 Pick a holiday destination and persuade a friend to join you

3 Chère amie, J’ai cherché comme convenu entre nous une site pour nos vacances en France. J’ai refléchi et fixé les critères suivantes: 1. un jardin, 2. de la paix, 3. près du centre, 4. possibilités d’être actives, 5. piscine (ou mer), 6. petit déjeuner gratuit. En cherchant j’ai trouvé 5 places, du Nord au Sud pour en choisir. C’est simple en fait: vous compter les critères La conclusion est en effait simple comme bonjour: Il n’a qu’une place qui satisfait 5 critères et c’est Morbihan en Bretagne. (…) Je t’embrasse.

4 Design 91 students of Italian; 76 students of French Two writing tasks (letters); cognitive complexity manipulated; two conditions (-comp; +comp) Choice of a holiday destination from 5 options; varying number of requirements (3 vs 6) Try to convince the addressee of this choice 40 minutes per task Minimum of 150 words Cloze text as separate measure of proficiency

5 Main study LanguageYear group Task Time ITime II +comp.-comp.+comp.-comp. Italian 1N=43N=42N=33 2N=23 3N=12 French 1N=48 N=33 3N=12

6 Pilot study (Kuiken & Vedder 2004a,b) LanguageYear group Task Dutch L1Italian L2 +comp.-comp.+comp.-comp. Italian L2 1N=23N=28 N=23

7 Kuiken, Mos & Vedder (2005) LanguageYear group Task Time ITime II +comp.-comp.+comp.-comp. Italian 1N=28 N=33 2N=22 3N=12 French 1N=48 N=33 3N=12

8 Kuiken & Vedder (submitted) LanguageYear group Task Time ITime II +comp.-comp.+comp.-comp. Italian 1N=43N=42N=33 2N=23 3N=12 French 1N=48 N=33 3N=12

9 Kuiken & Vedder (in preparation) LanguageYear group Task Time ITime II +comp.-comp.+comp.-comp. Italian 1N=43N=42N=33 2N=23 3N=12 French 1N=48 N=33 3N=12

10 PhD project Michel N=20, TL Dutch, SL X N=20, TL Dutch, SL Y N=20, TL Z, SL Dutch Condition +interactive-interactive Task+complexTask 1 (in groups of 3) Task 2 -complexTask 3 (in groups of 3) Task 4

11 Research questions What is the influence of task complexity on linguistic performance? 1.Is this influence the same for different aspects of linguistic performance, and if not: in what ways does the influence differ? 2.Is this influence the same for learners of different levels of proficiency, and if not: in what ways does the influence differ?

12 Two models Skehan & Foster (2001, 2005): Limited Attentional Capacity Model (LAC) –Increasing task complexity will lead to a decrease in performance. Robinson (2001, 2005): Cognition Hypothesis –Increasing task complexity may lead to better a performance.

13 Resource directing versus resource dispersing variables Resource-directing –related to particular features of the language code +/- here-and-now +/- few elements +/- no reasoning demands Resource directing leads to a better performance Resource-dispersing –not directly related to any features of the language code +/- planning time +/- prior knowledge +/- single task Resource dispersing leads to a poorer performance

14 Proposed effects of task complexity Robinson (2001, 2005)

15 Hypotheses Cognition Hypothesis –Better performance on the more complex task Limited Attentional Capacity Model –Better performance on the less complex task Language proficiency (Threshold Hypothesis) –No or smaller effects for low proficiency students

16 Measures of performance (Wolfe-Quintero, Inagaki & Kim 1998) Accuracy –Number of Total, 1 st, 2 nd, and 3 rd degree errors per T- unit (Err Tot, Err 1 st, Err 2 nd, Err 3 rd ) Syntactic complexity –Number of clauses per T-unit (C per T-U) –Number of dependent clauses per clause (DC per C) Lexical variation –Type/token ratio (WT/W) –Ratio corrected for text length (WT/√2W)

17 Examples of errors J’ai cherché, (1) comme convenu (promis: 1) entre nous, (1) une (un: 1) site pour nos vacances en France. J’ai refléchi (réfléchi: 1) et fixé les critères suivantes: (suivants: 1) 1. un jardin, 2. de la paix, (du calme: 1) 3. près du centre, 4. possibilités d’être actives, (d’activités: 2) 5. piscine (ou mer), 6. petit déjeuner gratuit. En cherchant, (1) j’ai trouvé 5 places, (possibilités d’hébergement: 1) du Nord au Sud, (1) pour en choisir. (pour choisir, au choix: 1) C’est simple en fait: vous compter (comptez: 2) les critères. (1) La conclusion est en effait (en effet: 1) simple comme bonjour: Il (il: 1) n’a (n’y a: 2) qu’une place (qu’un endroit: 1) qui satisfait (satifasse: 1; aux: 1) 5 critères et c’est (le: 1) Morbihan en Bretagne.

18 Results 1 Research question 1 –What is the influence of task complexity on linguistic performance with respect to accuracy, syntax and lexicon?

19 Cognitive complexity and accuracy

20 Cognitive complexity and syntax

21 Cognitive complexity and lexicon

22 Results 2 Research question 2 –What is the influence of task complexity on learners with different levels of proficiency? Two groups based on cloze scores (max. 33) –Low proficiency Italian ≤ 18 (mean 13.23; s.d. 3.45) French ≤ 16 (mean 10.54, s.d. 3.02) –High proficiency Italian > 18 (mean 23.49; s.d. 3.18) French > 16 (mean 18.31; s.d. 2.16)

23 Cognitive complexity and level of proficiency: accuracy

24 Cognitive complexity and level of proficiency : syntax

25 Cognitive complexity and level of proficiency: lexicon

26 Results 3: Summary Accuracy –Italian and French: lower error ratios on the more complex task (Err Tot, Err 1 st, Err 2 nd) + Cognition Hypothesis, - LAC Model Syntactic complexity and lexical variation –Italian and French: no significant differences for syntactic complexity or lexical complexity - Cognition Hypothesis, - LAC Model Language proficiency –Italian and French: the effects of cognitive complexity are not related to language proficiency

27 Discussion 1 Syntactic complexity, lexical variation –Why neither evidence for the Cognitìon Hypothesis nor for the LAC Model? How can cognitive complexity best be operationalized? How can linguistic performance best be measured? What may be concluded if we focus on particular syntactic structures and use of more specific interlanguage sensitive measures? What may we learn from the use of more qualitative measures (e.g. Lexical Frequency Profile)?

28 Discussion 2 Accuracy –Analysis type of error which decreases in +complex condition: syntactic, lexical, morphological errors, other? –Further investigation role of attention: where does the increase in attention (+complex condition) come from? Attentional capacity which is not used in the -complex condition? Decrease of attention on other aspects of performance?

29 Discussion 3 Language proficiency –Further investigation into the role of language proficiency? Teaching practice –Is increasing task complexity beneficial? (fewer errors; no negative effects regarding syntactic complexity and lexical variation!)

30 Addresses Folkert Kuiken, Ineke Vedder, Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC), Spuistraat VT Amsterdam The Netherlands


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