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Exploring language learning through communication: How far is task repetition repetition?

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Since the advent of communicative language teaching, a key issue for research and debate has been the extent to which learners’ language development can be effectively fostered through communicative use. Communication still seems important, but at the same time, it is clearly not enough, and indeed in some ways it could undermine learning. This problem has generally been looked at in terms of the impact of Communicative concerns on learners’ focus of attention. However the problem can also be seen in terms of the significance of the systematicity of learning experiences: does it matter whether the learners’ learning experiences are shifting and relatively unpredictable and unstructured, or to some degree recurrent, and if so, why? A way of exploring this is to study a more structured type of experience, and this seminar will present the findings from a series of studies into The impact of identical task repetition. The purpose is to find out what happens when people repeat the same task, what this tells us about communicative repetition in a second language, and whether the impact is relevant for promoting language development. Working from samples of data, I will try to argue that the language of task repetition can still be communicative, that repetition can also help mediate learners’ attention, and that it can provide opportunities for interesting kinds of exploratory change. There might be interesting implications for the structuring of syllabuses, and for research in instructed second language development.

This talk is part of the Second Language Education Group series.

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