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The Influence of Choice Upon Complex Output in TBLT John Thurman Hokkaido University 3rd Biennial International Conference on Task-Based Language Teaching.

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Presentation on theme: "The Influence of Choice Upon Complex Output in TBLT John Thurman Hokkaido University 3rd Biennial International Conference on Task-Based Language Teaching."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Influence of Choice Upon Complex Output in TBLT John Thurman Hokkaido University 3rd Biennial International Conference on Task-Based Language Teaching September 2009 Lancaster University

2 The Question Will a method of increasing students interest in conducting a task, that of the introduction of topic choice, have an effect upon the complexity of the oral output of the students? The introduction topic choice has shown to improve participants interest in conducting a language learning task (Thurman, 2008), intrinsic motivation (Zuckerman et al, 1978), vigilance (Dember et al, 1992), and to reduce anxiety (Stotland & Blumenthal, 1964).

3 Complexity in TBLT Concerns the cognitive demands of a task and the attentional resources that students utilize during a task Highly Important. AILA 2008 Often a central area of research (e.g., Gilabert, 2007), such as in Skehans (2007) Trade-off and Robinsons (2007) Cognition models of language acquisition.

4 Complexity... Indicates change and development in the interlanguage system. Is based on the ability of learners to take risks and use more language subsystems with the possibility that such language may not be controlled effectively. Is how advanced (i.e., subordinated) the language is.

5 Complexity... Concerns cognitive factors affecting students cognitive challenge: Resource-directing: Demands which direct learner attention and effort in using the L2 system. Resource-dispersing: Demands which increase task complexity without directing learner attention and effort to any particular aspects of language code (i.e., planning).

6 Assessing Complexity... Interactional Turns Grammatical Subordination Lexical Variation Density Sophistication

7 Would positive affect* influence complexity? Isen (2000, 2002): More willing to take a chance More exploration and trying new things Increases in variety-seeking Increases cognitive flexibility Promotes effective thinking Fredrickson (2001): Broadens the scope of attention and cognition Creates urge to explore and take in new information * Positive emotions, greater interest, greater intrinsic motivation

8 Would positive affect* influence complexity? McDaniel et al (2000): May reduce costs required to allocate attention to various aspects of text processing May allow reader to focus on organizational and structural elements and less on extracting meaning Hidi (1990): Greater automaticity of attentional allocation Involves attention, concentration, persistence * Positive emotions, greater interest, greater intrinsic motivation

9 Would positive affect* influence complexity? Rowe et al (2007): Decreases capacity to processing irrelevant information Facilitates tasks requiring a more global style of information processing Robinson (2007): Affect plays a greater role on speech production, interaction, uptake, memory and focus on form for complex tasks * Positive emotions, greater interest, greater intrinsic motivation

10 Would positive affect* influence complexity? Derryberry & Tucker (1994): Motivational processes in part control attention Influences direction (spotlight) and breadth (zoom lens) of attention Breadth of attention is the working memory Attention to local features requires left-brain; to global features requires right-brain Anxiety enhances left-brain processing Anxiety reduced by choice (Stotland & Blumenthal, 1964) * Positive emotions, greater interest, greater intrinsic motivation

11 Participants 43 pairs of students 31 female/female pairs 10 male/male pairs 2 mixed sex pairs First-year university students in Japan taking a required English communication course Average age = 19 years First language was Japanese Beginning

12 Tasks (One-way, Info-gap) Descriptive tasks Modified pictures from Nicholson and Sakuno (1982) Narrative tasks 6-pane stories in Heaton (1966)

13 Procedures

14 Descriptive task; No Choice

15 Descriptive task; Limited Choice* *chosen by 26 pairs*chosen by 8 pairs *chosen by 6 pairs

16 Narrative Task No Choice of Topic Limited Choice of Topic (chosen by 25 pairs) Limited Choice of Topic (chosen by 6 pairs) Limited Choice of Topic (chosen by 9 pairs)

17 Measures of Complexity Interactional Turns (Duff, 1986) Words per Turn (Duff, 1986) Grammatical Ratio of S-nodes per T-Unit (Gilabert, 2007) Lexical (Wolfe-Quintero et al, 1998) Ratio of lexical to function words Percentage of lexical to total words Percentage of advanced words Guirauds Index (Gilabert, 2007)

18 Results Significance examined using t-tests (non-significant results not shown to save space)

19 Interest (from survey data) (solid lines = all students who participated; dashed lines = same pairs only)

20 Time on Task (seconds)

21 Results from Transcript data First two minutes after the students commenced the interaction in a consistent fashion. In order to more evenly account for early finishers.

22 Words-per-turn

23 Ratio of S-nodes per T-Unit

24 Guirauds Index of Lexical Richness

25 Conclusions The descriptive task seemed to be the most salient with statistically significantly greater increases of words-per-turn (interactional complexity), subordination (grammatical complexity), and Guirauds Index (lexical complexity). Task affect (Interest or time-on-task) was mixed but higher for both types of tasks.

26 WHAT IS THE MOTIVATIONAL BASIS OF TBLT? Food for Thought

27 Affect in TBLT Some researchers in the TBLT field claim that task-based language teaching is more motivating, compared to the more traditional (i.e., P-P-P) methods. Why is TBLT more motivating?

28 Affect in TBLT Dornyei (2002) found that the pooled scores of the pairs of course attitude and task attitude correlated significantly with the number of words produced by the pairs and the number of turns by the pairs (Table 5). In this study, there were no significant correlations of Task Interest nor Time on Task with any of the dependent variables for either the descriptive task or the narrative task (limited choice treatments only).

29 Affect in TBLT Gilabert (2007) found that students had significantly higher stress with a There- and-Then narrative task, as compared to a Here-and-Now narrative task, and significantly higher confidence with the Here-and-Now task, but there were no differences for interest or motivation between the two types of tasks.

30 Affect in TBLT There has been the claim that The Attribution Model of motivation (Skehan, 1989) may be a motivational basis in TBLT* The reason for this was that students would attribute success to their skill or knowledge more in the TBLT environment, as compared to luck. *The claim was not made by Skehan.

31 Affect in TBLT It is my belief that the motivational basis of TBLT may be the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) of human motivation In tapes, students would at times be surprised as to how well they did on the task and in using English (i.e., competence) There is a great deal of autonomy in TBLT. Even though there may be focused tasks (Ellis, 2003), students still have the autonomy as to where to start and which language to use.

32 How well does the motivational basis of TBLT relate to a new model of language learning motivation?

33 The L2 Motivational Self System Developed in Dörnyei (2009) based on the theory of ideal self and ought-to self by Markus and Nurius (1986). The ideal self refers to the attributes that one would ideally like to posses. Includes integrative and internalized instrumental motivations. The ought-to self refers to the attributes one believes one ought to posses. Includes the more extrinsic types of instrumental motives.

34 A Link Between SDT and the L2 Motivational Self System Noels (2009) maintains that SDT, with its levels of internalisation of engaging in an activity, from extrinsic motivation to intrinsic motivation, underscores the central role of the self in language learning and that SDT is closely aligned with the L2 Motivational Self System. Lynch et al (2009) found that the support of autonomy was related to lower ideal self- and actual self-concept* discrepancies. *Aspects of the self-concept deemed acceptable determined by the nature of ones interactions with others.

35 TBLT and the L2 Motivational Self System It is intuitively intriguing that TBLT, with its design of the tasks that fosters actual language use, with its implementation features that fosters autonomy for the students, and with its syllabus designed to meet the needs of the students, will promote the L2 Motivational Self System. Future research combining L2 Motivational Self System research methodology and TBLT could prove to be insightful in linking a teaching methodology and a motivational theory in the classroom.

36 Thank You for Listening Is there a possibility for a colloquium in 2011 where affect (motivation, beliefs, anxiety, etc.) in TBLT is a central research focus? John Thurman

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