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Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching With Technology

Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching With Technology

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Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology

Also available from Continuum Online Second Language Acquisition, Vincenza Tudini Teacher Cognition and Language Education, Simon Borg

Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology

Edited by Michael Thomas and Hayo Reinders

Continuum International Publishing Group The Tower Building 80 Maiden Lane 11 York Road Suite 704 London SE1 7NX New York, NY 10038 www.continuumbooks.com © Michael Thomas, Hayo Reinders and contributors 2010 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Michael Thomas and Hayo Reinders have asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Authors of this work. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN: 978-1-4411-0153-2 (hardcover) Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Task-based language learning and teaching with technology / edited by Michael Thomas and Hayo Reinders. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-4411-0153-2 (hardback) 1. Language and languages--Computer-assisted instruction. I. Thomas, Michael, 1969II. Reinders, Hayo. III. Title. P53.28.T38 2010 418.0078'5--dc22 2009051951

Typeset by Newgen Imaging Systems Pvt Ltd, Chennai, India Printed and bound in Great Britain by the MPG Books Group

Contents List of Figures and Tables Notes on Contributors Foreword by Rod Ellis List of Abbreviations Chapter 1: Deconstructing Tasks and Technology Michael Thomas and Hayo Reinders Part I: Research on Tasks in CALL Chapter 2: Research on the Use of Technology in Task-Based Language Teaching Andreas Müller-Hartmann and Marita Schocker-v. Ditfurth Chapter 3: Task-Based Language Teaching in Network-Based CALL: An Analysis of Research on Learner Interaction in Synchronous CMC Mark Peterson Chapter 4: Taking Intelligent CALL to Task Mathias Schulze Chapter 5: Effects of Multimodality in Computer-Mediated Communication Tasks Glenn Stockwell vii x xvi xix 1 17 41 63 83 .

vi Contents Measuring Complexity in Task-Based Synchronous Computer-Mediated Communication Karina Collentine Chapter 6: 105 Part II: Applying Technology-Mediated Tasks Chapter 7: Task Design for a Virtual Learning Environment in a Distance Language Course Regine Hampel Teacher Development. TBLT and Technology Thomas Raith and Volker Hegelheimer Edubba: Real-World Writing Tasks in a Virtual World Kenneth Reeder 131 Chapter 8: 154 Chapter 9: 176 Chapter 10: The Enactment of Task Design in Telecollaboration 2.0 Mirjam Hauck Chapter 11: Afterword: Future Directions for TechnologyMediated Tasks Gary Motteram and Michael Thomas Index 197 218 239 .

2 Figure 9. Part 3 Needs analysis viewed through an activity theory lens The hexagon model of synchronous teaching methodology A model for implementing tasks in Second Life from Deutschmann (2009) 22 114 117 119 121 123 178 179 180 191 208 211 213 223 224 227 Figure 6.3 .1 Figure 9.1 Figure 6.2 Figure 6.4 Figure 10. Part 3 new 2009 exchange – Task 2. 1999) Sample treatment screen Nominal cluster: Descriptive statistics of summed z-scores by task and learner level Narrative cluster: Descriptive statistics of summed z-scores by task and learner level Propositional complexity cluster: Descriptive statistics of summed z-scores by task and learner level Overlay of screens with timer bar and iChat directions Edubba’s virtual characters Edubba’s conceptual design The virtual city The pedagogical model of writing in Edubba Project Task 1 Project Task 1.1 Figure 10.2 Figure 11.2 Figure 10.3 Figure 11.3 Figure 9.4 Activity system (based on Engeström et al.1 Figure 11..1 Figure 6.3 Figure 6.List of Figures and Tables Figures Figure 2.5 Figure 9.

2 Table 3.2 Table 5.5 Potential advantages and limitations of interaction in text-based real-time CMC for language learners Key findings of studies on learner interaction in LAN-based CMC Key findings of studies on learner interaction in chat-based CMC Key findings of studies on learner interaction in chat-based CMC Students participating in the classes according to year Mean number of words per chat session/ forum post Mean TTR for each chat session/forum post Percentage of correctly spelt words in each chat session/forum post Mean length of c-unit for each chat session/ forum post Percentage of error-free c-units for each chat session/forum post Nominal cluster: descriptive statistics of summed z-scores by task and learner level Nominal cluster: significance tests of summed z-scores Narrative cluster: descriptive statistics of summed z-scores by task and learner level Narrative cluster: significance tests of summed z-scores Propositional complexity cluster: descriptive statistics of summed z-scores by task and learner level Propositional complexity cluster: Significance tests of summed z-scores Task framework Additional dimensions of the task framework Realization of Ellis’s and Oxford’s task features in online design 47 50 53 56 91 93 94 94 95 95 117 118 119 119 121 121 140 141 142 Table 6.6 Table 7.4 Table 6.6 Table 6.3 Table 6.4 Table 5.4 Table 5.1 Table 5.3 Table 3.5 Table 5.2 Table 6.3 Table 5.1 Table 6.1 Table 7.1 Table 3.viii List of Figures and Tables Tables Table 3.3 .2 Table 7.

1 Genres and thinking skills in Edubba Table 9.2 Project plan ix 162 165 184 186 187 188 202 203 .4 ‘To-Do’ list for staff reporters’ story 1 Table 10.2 ‘To-Do’ list for student interns’ orientation Table 9.2 Levels of task reflection Table 9.1 Standards-based model of task-based teaching competencies Table 8.List of Figures and Tables Table 8.1 Participant groups Table 10.3 ‘Task vs. Exercise’ learning activities Table 9.

Her research interests include TB-SCMC. and include a book on Online Communication in Language Learning and Teaching co-authored with Marie-Noëlle Lamy (2008). Her own research explores theoretical and practical issues around the use of digital technologies in language learning and teaching. task design. Her publications focus on the affordances of new media. French and German in the state of Arizona. learner interaction and collaboration.Notes on Contributors Karina Collentine is an Assistant Professor of Spanish and Spanish Secondary Education at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. ensuring that education majors meet the requirements for NCATE accreditation. Regine Hampel is a Senior Lecturer in Modern Languages (German) at the Open University in the United Kingdom. working with students to get certified to teach Spanish. US. She is particularly interested in the impact of mediation on learning in new multimodal environments. teacher training and literacies. . She is also the departmental NCATE coordinator. She teaches undergraduate and graduate-level Spanish linguistics and pedagogy courses. She is the departmental student teaching coordinator and the university supervisor and advisor for secondary education undergraduate majors. where she heads the research group in independent and technologyenhanced language learning in the Department of Languages. task-based synchronous computer-mediated communication and second language acquisition.

He has also contributed to several edited volumes on CALL and teacher training.D. Language Testing. Language Learning & Technology. System and ReCALL. He teaches graduate courses on technology in second language teaching and research. which is taught both on-site in Manchester and by e-learning. He set up and still runs a Master’s in Educational Technology and TESOL. in Teaching English Overseas and an Ed. tutor role and training. He has an M. language testing and research methods as well as technologyenhanced undergraduate English as a Second Language (ESL) courses.Ed. Volker Hegelheimer is Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics in the Department of English and the Ph. he worked on the TESOL Technology Standards with a team of CALL researchers. Program in Applied Linguistics & Technology at Iowa State University. Her current research and publications explore the impact of mediation and the relevance of multimodal communicative competence on the development of intercultural communicative competence in online environments. the affordances of the new media and e-literacy skills. He has presented at conferences and published regularly in the fields of technology in language learning and technology supported distance education. Most recently. He has recently managed a number of international . in e-learning. Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics.Notes on Contributors xi Mirjam Hauck is a Senior Lecturer and Associate Head of the Department of Languages (Faculty of Education and Language Studies) at the Open University in the United Kingdom. Gary Motteram is a Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Manchester where he has worked for over 20 years. His research interests include applications of the web and emerging technologies in language learning and language testing and his publications have appeared in refereed international journals such as CALICO Journal.D. She has written numerous articles and book chapters on the use of technologies for the learning and teaching of languages and cultures covering aspects such as task design.

in American Studies from the University of Osnabrück. A new book based on the project will be available from 2010. CALL and American Cultural Studies. Andreas Müller-Hartmann is Professor of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and the Director of the Institute for Foreign Languages at the University of Education. the development of intercultural communicative competence.Sc. TSLL. in linguistics (CALL specialization) from the University of Edinburgh. United States and a Ph. Germany. He teaches TEFL. His main fields of interest are new media in the language classroom. Mark Peterson received his M. Ditfurth) and TEFL in the primary classroom (2009) (with Michael Legutke & Marita Schocker-v. Germany. degree in TESOL and CALL from the University of Stirling.D. he is conducting a number of learnerbased studies that investigate the use of virtual worlds and gaming environments in language learning. Thomas Raith is a Lecturer at the University of Education in Heidelberg. At present.xii Notes on Contributors projects for the University of Manchester including: eChinaUK (www. and teacher education. the use of technology in the EFL classroom. He is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies at Kyoto University in Japan. He holds an MA in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. Germany.org) and AVALON (avalonlearning. Ditfurth). where he teaches courses on CALL and CMC in the applied linguistics programme. echinauk. He has co-written books on TEFL in the secondary classroom (2004) and TSLL (appears 2010) (with Marita Schocker-v. task-based language learning and standards .D. and his Ph. His research interests include task-supported language learning (TSLL).eu) and ran a two-year research project for Cambridge University Press exploring what teachers do with technology. He has co-edited books on qualitative research in foreign language learning and teaching (2001) and task-based language learning with technology (2008). Heidelberg. His main research interests focus on the relationship between SLA and network-based CALL.

Kenneth Reeder is Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia. He teaches graduate courses on the use of technology in foreign language teaching. Transform your Teaching: Strategies for Multicultural Education and an edited book on Learner and Teacher Autonomy. online language learning and bilingualism. He has designed virtual learning environments for language learners and teachers and has developed institutional language support systems at several universities around the world. His research interests include Intelligent ComputerAssisted Language Learning (ICALL).innovationinteaching. Hayo is the author or editor of over ten books with his most recent projects including books on teaching methodologies. His research spans studies of first and second language acquisition. biliterate development in immersion education. He has co-written a book (with Trude Heift) on . he teaches in the areas of Applied Linguistics for Teachers. Mathias Schulze is an Associate Professor of German and the Director of the Centre for German Studies at Waterloo University in Canada. and Child Language in Education. Hayo Reinders (www. He is currently researching task-based models of teacher training with a team of researchers. classroom research and standards in language teaching. CALL and Learner Autonomy. Canada. Currently he is concluding a three-year educational assessment of advanced voice recognition software for novice ESL readers in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University’s Institute of Robotics.Notes on Contributors xiii in language teacher education. appropriate uses of language learning software and assessment.org) is Head of Language and Learning Support at Middlesex University in London and editor of the journal Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching. His interests are in Teacher Education. and intercultural dimensions of online learning. A frequent keynote speaker at international events. An applied linguist. he was previously founding Director of the English Language Self-Access Centre at the University of Auckland and Visiting Professor at Meiji University in Japan. task-based language teaching.

Glenn Stockwell is Professor in Applied Linguistics at Waseda University. with chapters on linguistic. In collaboration with Andreas Müller-Hartmann she has developed a Blended Learning MA course (E-LINGO) that teaches primary EFL teachers worldwide. He is co-author of CALL Dimensions (2006) with Mike Levy. Marita Schocker-v. Primary EFL and teacher education development. CALL. She directs two state-funded classroom research projects that investigate the potential of tasks for secondary EFL following an action-research approach. second language acquisition theories and bilingualism. Having been a secondary EFL teacher for 13 years. second language teaching methodology and computerassisted language learning. He teaches a range of English language subjects and several applied linguistics subjects. He teaches German language. Ditfurth is a Professor of Applied Linguistics and TEFL at the University of Education in Freiburg. and has published widely in international journals in the field of CALL. She has developed various course materials for secondary and primary teachers of English. His research interests include computermediated communication. mobile learning and the role of technology in the language learning process. she is involved with research on challenges faced by classroom teachers in their daily lives. She has researched and published in the areas of technology-supported language learning. He is the general editor of The JALT CALL Journal. Computer Assisted Language Learning and the CALICO Journal. edited a special issue of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (2008) on ICALL and co-edited a book.xiv Notes on Contributors ICALL. historic and cultural facets of migration and acculturation of German speakers. including second language acquisition. Japan. and member of the academic advisory boards and review boards of the ReCALL Journal. German Diasporic Experiences (2008). Michael Thomas is Professor of English at Nagoya University of Commerce and Business in Japan. Errors and Intelligence in CALL (2007). Germany. Tokyo. task-based approaches to language learning. His research interests are in ICT in education. language learning and technology and the philosophy of .

Research and Practice (2010) (with Euline Cutrim Schmid). and The Reception of Derrida: Translation and Transformation (2006). .Notes on Contributors xv language. Interactive Whiteboards for Education: Theory. Among his publications are Handbook of Research on Web 2. Social Media in Education: Applying the New Digital Literacies (forthcoming).0 and Second Language Learning (2009). He is editor of the International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments and organizer of an international symposium series on digital technologies and language education in Japan.

There is still relatively little published about TBLT in technology-mediated contexts. then. where the response to an indication of a communication problem only occurred after one or more repeat indications of the problem. One line of research that I do have some familiarity with is the study of synchronous computer-mediated communication (CMC) and its role in second language acquisition (SLA). is ‘Why do we need another book on TBLT?’ In fact. He also reported that there was no relationship between learners’ uptake of feedback (with or without repair) and the acquisition of second language (L2) vocabulary items. there is a very good answer to this question. Smith’s (2003. I personally welcome this book because my own knowledge of how technology can be used in TBLT is very limited. These hypothesize that negotiation-of-meaning sequences support learning by providing comprehensible input. therefore. They reported that the feedback . 2005) studies investigated whether negotiation in a CMC context resulted in the same pattern of interaction as that reported to occur in FTF task-based interactions. Smith found that they differed. Much of this work has been informed by interactionist theories of SLA. feedback and opportunities for learners to self-correct. The current literature deals almost exclusively with TBLT as practised in face-to-face (FTF) classrooms. Loewen and Erlam (2006) investigated the effect of corrective feedback on acquisition in L2 learners’ performance of a task in a synchronous learning environment. He identified what he called ‘split negotiation routines’. An obvious question. This book.Foreword Task-based language teaching (TBLT) is currently attracting enormous interest as reflected in the number of books published on this topic in the last few years. fills a clear gap.

for example. and do so quite naturally’ (1998. exemplar-based on the other’ (p. 1991).e. whether the task is tightly or loosely structured) and implementation features (e. complexity and accuracy. the rule-based analytic. This states ‘two systems co-exist. there is a need for further studies. with the former referring to the workplan that is given to learners (i. The point is made that learners inevitably interpret the workplan in terms of their own needs. motives and histories. This result differs from that of Ellis. Skehan draws on this theory in his own work on tasks to investigate how various design features of tasks (e.Foreword xvii had no effect on the learning of regular past tense. though. Increasingly. Skehan argued that ‘language users can move between these systems. and is required for fast. In a similar mode. and thus the same task can result in very different kinds of activity when performed by . This views tasks as artefacts that can mediate language learning through interaction. the artefact) and the latter to the communication that results from the performance of the task. a distinction is made between ‘task’ and ‘activity’. these theories have been tested on tasks performed in FTF interaction so there is a clear need for studies that investigate their claims in relation to technology-mediated L2 production. Robinson (2001) has advanced his Cognition Hypothesis to explain how task complexity affects L2 production. whether learners have the opportunity to plan before they perform the task) impact on three aspects of language production – fluency. proposed a theory based on a dual-mode model of linguistic representation. 54). and the formulaic. Loewen and Erlam (2006) who found significant effects for corrective feedback on the acquisition of the same grammatical feature in a classroom-based study.g. with the contents organized in accordance with the ‘idiom principle’ (Sinclair. Clearly. To date. 54). fluent language use. p. The rule-based system consists of powerful ‘generative’ rules and is required to compute well-formed sentences. Accordingly.g. The exemplar-based system is capacious. tasks are also being investigated from the perspective of sociocultural theory. on the one hand. Skehan (1998). There are theoretical perspectives on tasks other than that afforded by the Interaction Hypothesis. These studies suggest that interaction in a synchronous computer-mediated environment may not afford the same learning opportunities as a FTF environment.

Implicit and explicit corrective feedback and the acquisition of L2 grammar. B. R.. Smith. S. for example. Given the current advocacy of TBLT and the increasing use of technology in language teaching it is important that we develop a fuller understanding of how to design tasks for use with different technologies and how best to implement them in ways that will foster language learning. 27. Loewen. Loewen. Thorne. Robinson. learner uptake and lexical acquisition in task-based computer-mediated communication. Professor Rod Ellis University of Auckland. 39. TESOL Quarterly. (2001).. 339–368. 28.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.xviii Foreword different learners or even by the same learners on different occasions and in different contexts. Robinson (Ed. 2007) but much more is needed. Computer Assisted Language Learning. This is clearly fertile ground for the study of how learners construct tasks in technological environments. S. —(2005). & Erlam. 19(1). Thorne & Black. Some work has already been undertaken here (see. Nor can we assume that they work in the same way in the highly varied environments that technology now affords. This book makes a notable contribution to this agenda and is very welcome. & Erlam. In P. 1–14. R. P. (2006). Cognition and second language instruction. 33–58. cognitive resources. S. Oxford: Oxford University Press. A cognitive approach to language learning. (1998). (2003). & Black. 31. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics. . We cannot assume that tasks work the same way in FTF classrooms and in technology-mediated environments. R. System. The relationship between negotiated interaction.. 1–28. Corrective feedback in the chatroom: An experimental study. R. New Zealand References Ellis. (2007). Studies in Second Language Acquisition. The use of communication strategies in computer-mediated communication.). P. Skehan. and syllabus design: A triadic framework for examining task influences on SLA. Language and literacy development in computermediated contexts and communities. Task complexity. 29–53. (2006).

List of Abbreviations ACMC AI AS ASR AT AVALON CALL CASLA CBI CBL CEFR CH CLT CMC CMS DTVC EAL EFL ESL FTF GPS HCI ICALL ICT IELTS IH Asynchronous Computer-Mediated Communication Artificial Intelligence Activity System Automated Speech Recognition Activity Theory Access to Virtual and Action Learning live ONline Computer-Assisted Language Learning Computer Applications in Second Language Acquisition Computer-Based Instruction Computer-Based Learning Common European Framework of Reference for Languages Cognition Hypothesis Communicative Language Teaching Computer-Mediated Communication Course Management System Desktop Video Conferencing English as an Additional Language English as a Foreign Language English as a Second Language Face-to-Face Global Positioning Systems Human-Computer Interaction Intelligent Computer-Assisted Language Learning Information and Communication Technologies International English Language Testing System Interaction Hypothesis .

xx List of Abbreviations Interlanguage Initiate/Response/Follow-up Interrupted Task Chatting Activity Mother Tongue or First Language Second Language Local Area Networks LANguage learning with CErtified Live Online Trainers Learning Management System Multiuser. Object-Oriented Environment Multi-User Virtual Environments Network-Based Language Teaching Natural Language Processing Post-task Chatting Activity Synchronous Computer-Mediated Communication Second Language Acquisition Task-Based Learning Task-Based Language Teaching Task-Based Synchronous Computer Mediated Communication Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Task-Supported Language Learning Task-Supported Language Teaching Virtual Learning Environment Virtual Reality Virtual World Zone of Proximal Development IL IREF ITCA L1 L2 LAN LANCELOT LMS MOO MUVE NBLT NLP PTCA SCMC SLA TBL TBLT TB-SCMC TESOL TSLL TSLT VLE VR VW ZPD .

At the same time. research and practice in order to explore synergies and differences as well as potential future directions (Ortega. anyone concerned with second language teaching and learning in the 21st century needs to grasp the nature of the unique technologymediated tasks learners can engage in for language acquisition and how such tasks can be used for assessment. The book is an attempt to initiate a closer dialogue between these areas of theory. in relation to either technology or task-based language teaching (TBLT). .Chapter 1 Deconstructing Tasks and Technology Michael Thomas and Hayo Reinders In Computer Applications in Second Language Acquisition (2001). It is hoped that such a dialogue will be researchbased. italics added) In responding to Chapelle’s focus on ‘technology-mediated tasks’. . (p. interdisciplinary and inclusive. 2009). Chapelle explores the interface between computer assisted-language learning (CALL). . and resist succumbing – as is so often the case – to uniformed scepticism or uncritical idealism. To meet the challenge. and includes contributions from researchers and learners in Canada . it ought to be analytical in orientation. . task-based learning (TBL) and second language acquisition (SLA): . the study of the features of computer-based tasks that promote learning should be a concern for teachers as well as for SLA researchers who wish to contribute to knowledge about instructed SLA. . 2. One of the strengths of the collection is that it includes international perspectives. this book is the first collection of international research to consider the synergies between second language (L2) task-based approaches and CALL.

2 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology (Reeder. telecollaboration. The international perspectives in this book confirm the dual importance of task-based approaches to language education around the world (Stewart. Stockwell). Though there have been varying interpretations of what constitutes a ‘task’ in language education over the last three decades. 2010). Web 2. Raith & Hegelheimer). they engage with real-world authentic language use. p. Germany (Müller-Hartmann & Schocker-v. online discussion forums and 3-D virtual worlds (VWs). 2006. as well as the multi-dimensional nature of task design as a consequence (Levy & Stockwell. Japan (Peterson. Two of the advantages that CALL technologies have made possible is the opportunity to engage in language learning and teaching across national boundaries and to consider other educational contexts. that it is a methodology that is unresponsive to different cultural and pedagogical contexts. Moreover. Motteram) and the United States (Collentine). 253) in orientation. Ditfurth. however. the use of electronic portfolios. and they have a defined communication-based learning outcome. Hauck. Willis & Willis. ‘There is no one single TBLT methodology’. while also emphasizing that one of the strengths of CALL is that it is both ‘interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary’ (p. As the title of the collection suggests. they focus on any or all of the four language skills. as they grapple with the new literacies of digital education (Pegrum. including the virtualization of language teacher professional development. the United Kingdom (Hampel. 2009). 249) who argue. as well as of the increasing centrality of technology-mediated tasks to the process of language learning and teaching in general. we take as our starting point the six ‘criterial features’ suggested by Ellis (2003. 9–10): tasks involve a plan for learner activity. they engage learners in cognitive skills in order to accomplish them. Schulze). 2009. These international contributions are important in that they all take into account one of the main criticisms targeted at a task-based approach. they have a primary focus on making meaning. pp. We would therefore agree with Levy and Stockwell (2006. these contributions offer perspectives on a wide range of areas of central importance to language learners and teachers in a variety of contexts. Reinders & White. synchronous and asynchronous communication. in order to contribute to a fuller . namely. 2009).0 technologies.

the omission reflects a ‘strong’ reading of TBLT. 2003). TBLT research has typically concentrated more on face-to-face (FTF) classroom research. the Cambridge Guide to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (Carter & Nunan. Bygate & Norris. in that TBLT is based on promoting real-world authentic tasks in the target language at a time when 1. 495). Just as SLA theory has typically marginalized CALL. It is clear. from Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to social networking sites. In this context. Given the acknowledged ascendency of task-based approaches. this is an interesting omission. Content and Strategies’. Skehan. no crossreference to Willis and Willis’ chapter or TBLT research literature is included or vice versa. p. from laptop computers to mobile phones. ‘Authenticity. although concluding by briefly considering ‘cross-pollination with other L2 pedagogy domains’ such as ‘technology’ (p.Deconstructing Tasks and Technology 3 understanding of technology-mediated tasks. 128). as well as recognizing that both CALL and task-based approaches deconstruct the traditional roles typically ascribed to teachers and learners in the language learning process. 2009). 2001) includes separate entries for ‘computer-assisted language learning’ and ‘task-based language learning’. Evidence of this separation can be found in Van den Branden. we prefer ‘task-based language learning and teaching (Ellis. in which she describes the potential provided by computers to aid ‘authentic tasks for ESL students of all ages’ (p. Bygate & Norris’ (2009) recent 512 page TBLT reader. the separation between research that deals specifically with TBLT and CALL has generally continued up until the present day. 2007. With a few notable exceptions since then (Doughty & Long.5 billion people in the world have access to global forms of technology-mediated communication. 2003. Published in the same year as Chapelle’s study. González-Lloret. Tasks. however. that the potential synergies between TBLT and CALL have not always been recognized. 2003. Although Hanson-Smith’s discussion of CALL includes a section entitled. (Chapelle. by articulating a variety of principles to . 2003) to TBLT (Van den Branden. which. which as the editors explain. This dual focus emphasizes the importance of learner interpretation and engagement vis-à-vis tasks. in its ‘fullest sense transcends the scope of a teaching methodology. 2003. 112). does not include a chapter on the subject.

a lot of beneficial research has been going on for quite some time in this context. Nevertheless. 2003). 133. 14) since the mid-1980s (Breen. italics added). 1986.4 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology the design of language educational courses and programs’ (Norris. . 1999. 2003) and ‘task-referenced teaching’. The so-called ‘weaker’ varieties of TBLT such as ‘task-supported language teaching’ (Ellis.. p. has been an especially prominent area of CALL research in recent years (Collentine. 2009. 1989). To a certain extent Levy and Stockwell (2006) agree with this perspective. syllabus and curriculum design) as well as micro-level strategies (practical teaching. CALL remains on the periphery in this context due to a research agenda that has focused on the ‘precept that task-based teaching involves . 1999. The marginalization of technology within TBLT research is interesting. 1999. . Meskill. where a variety of FTF. 131. 2009. have . simply having learners do tasks’ (Norris et al. 1996). González-Lloret. Long & Crookes. on a number of fronts. 1986. Salaberry. then. italics added). 2003). 9). Nunan. the less restrictive and diversified approach to task design and sequencing that lies at the heart of CALL contrasts favourably with much TBLT research. Mills. TBLT involves both macro processes (needs analysis and integrated task. distance or blended models are used. Both TBLT and CALL emerged at approximately the same time during the early to mid-1980s. In its ‘fullest sense’ according to this reading. Candlin & Murphy. arguing that although research about tasks in language teaching has been a ‘pivotal component in [CALL] design’ (p. Understanding the design and behaviour of tasks in multimodal e-learning environments. p. which is often based on traditional classroom tasks (Chapelle. are less concerned in contrast with advancing tasks as the ‘unit of operation for both constructing the syllabus and for teaching’ (p. 2003. as researchers have identified principles for the pedagogical design of language learning tasks in environments that utilize technology. design and evaluation decisions based on particular learning contexts). task framework. 135. and where significantly different task affordances exist to those in ‘low-tech’ or ‘no-tech’ contexts (Chapelle. 1991. 2009. Ellis. Bygate & Van den Branden. p. much CALL research has dealt merely with small-scale research projects at the micro-level. To this extent.

2000). content-based and experiential learning. acknowledge that changes in language education are often ‘responses to new technologies’. as well as cross-cultural communication (Müller-Hartmann. 27). 2004. citing ‘tape recorders’ and ‘language laboratories’ as the necessary infrastructure for the ‘audio-lingual and audio-visual methods’ (p. ‘pedagogically controlled tasks’ (Evans. 2007). 2004. Whereas TBLT can be seen as a reaction to the ‘formfocused learning cycle’ of communicative language teaching (CLT) (Samuda & Bygate. 495) prominent in the 1970s and early 1980s. Over the last twenty years. During the more recent phase of communicative CALL. Integrative CALL. 629). as well as constructivist and social constructivist thought. This multimodal focus ‘make[s] full use of networked computers as a means to engage learners in meaningful. (2009). 2009. p. In the . the Interaction Hypothesis (Toyoda & Harrison. and learner anxiety (Arnold.and offline language learning resources. including project-based. 1996). CALL research therefore has emerged from a narrower behaviouristic focus. to one that is concerned with a ‘more holistic or synthetic perspective’ (Evans. 2002). 2002). 2000). 22) have been used in computer-mediated communication (CMC) to explore a series of research issues typically found in TBLT studies. p. L2 pragmatic competence (Belz & Kinginger. CALL has moved from an earlier ‘structural’ or ‘behaviourist’ phase. through ‘communicative’ CALL to a third ‘integrative’ stage (Gruba. TBLT’s strong interest in presenting learners with meaningful. as Evans (2009) suggests. CALL research in particular responds to the dramatic changes that have been taking place in the evolution of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and learning methodologies. is based on blending ‘multiple language skills’ with multiple types of on. functional tasks based on access to authentic materials has also been evident in more recent CALL research.Deconstructing Tasks and Technology 5 passed through a number of stages. 2008). real-world. large-scale collaborative activities’ (Gruba. 2009. p. and now share a series of theoretical antecedents. implicit corrective feedback (Pellettieri. Van den Branden et al. Warschauer. such as complexity of student output (Sotillo. Secondly. 2000). Although they do not include contributions on technology-mediated tasks in their TBLT reader.

communicating via electronic mail. these new technologies are bringing with them new forms of electronic literacies (Lankshear & Knobel. While significant digital divides of access still exist. Since 2001. reading and searching for information on the web. doing language tests. If we examine the history of CALL from the formal adoption of the acronym in the teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) convention in 1983. Set against the landscape of an increasingly mobile. This trend strikes a chord with the origins of task-based approaches. however. language students and teachers are progressively using new technologies for writing on a word-processor. the birth of the World Wide Web. to the implications and potential of the internet. thus reflecting the importance of sociocultural learning theories. all of them bringing fresh and more potent challenges to language use as well as learning and teaching practices. both in and outside the classroom. digital technologies have been increasingly used in language learning and teaching. we have seen the transition from mainframe to microcomputers. wireless and networked society (Castells. distance and now in hybrid forms of blended learning. 2003. as Bax (2003) argues. we see the centrality rather than the marginality of taskbased authentic learning moving increasingly into the foreground. and meeting with native and non-native speaking peers and collaborators with the aid of text. audio and latterly video. Chapelle’s (2001) vision of CALL at the beginning of the new Millennium was reacting to changes in ICT that have had farreaching and potentially radical implications for educational as well as social practices. and latterly web-based social media. in which today’s language learners are expected to be able to develop multimodal communicative and task competencies above and beyond the reading and writing skills required by previous generations. 2000). Though there is still some way to go before such technologies have achieved a ‘normalised’ state.6 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology decades since the popularity of the dedicated language laboratory. many of today’s university students have grown up in a world in which they assume they are always connected to the internet and can communicate with their peers (and perhaps even teachers) via Web-based social networking applications. . in FTF. from analogue to digital technologies. Warschauer. 1999).

the book builds on the work of Chapelle (2001. 2009). pp. 2003) to examine the interface between L2 task-based research and CALL. and later constructivist and social constructivist (Vygotsky. In computer-aided task-based instruction. This was not to be a passive form of learning but one in which the learners became active participants and researchers. including in particular the work of the American philosopher of education. Dewey argued for a type of authentic learning that would connect learners with their experience of the real world. Bruner’s emphasis on learning as ‘discovery’ (1960. then. this lineage can also be seen in the path from Seymour Papert’s logo programming language to the recent task-based approaches in CALL based on Web 2. rather than the disengaged ‘acquisition’ of ‘static’ knowledge (p. motivated by increased opportunities for interaction. 1962). The aim of this collection. by underlining the lessons that can be learned .Deconstructing Tasks and Technology 7 whose provenance can be traced to a number of educational theories in the twentieth century. There are clear lines of affiliation between Dewey’s vision of an experiential theory of learning. In the attempt to initiate a productive dialogue between TBL and CALL research. By so doing. p 135). John Dewey. 328–338). 1978) theories of knowledge and agency. this book views TBLT as a continuum. in order to ask not only how research on classroom-based L2 tasks can help understand technology-mediated tasks. the book also acknowledges some of the criticisms and potential dangers implied by an overly holistic vision of task-based language learning and teaching (Ellis. 47–48) of the school classroom. to the development of task-based language syllabi and curricula. 1938. 2003. In pursuing the latter question. The affordances of the Web 2. In opposition to the knowledge ‘learned in isolation’ or in the ‘water-tight compartment’ (Dewey. but how the use of technologymediated tasks can advance task theory and research (Chapelle.0 classroom provides educators with perhaps their best opportunity to date to better realize Dewey’s vision of bursting through the walls of the ‘watertight’ classroom. 19). 2003. is to address the marginalization of CALL research on tasks because it rarely measures up to the ‘holistic’ approach to curriculum and syllabus design.0 applications (Thomas. pp. stretching from concerns with the design and adoption of tasks in classroom practice.

‘Research on Tasks in CALL’. critically exploring nine studies relating to research on computer-mediated communication.8 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology from CALL’s eclectic approach to tasks. learner differences. Focusing on the influence of psycholinguistic and sociocultural interactionist approaches in SLA. which has been finely tuned to theoretical. Peterson discusses research on synchronous textbased communication to explore the debate about focus on form and negotiation of meaning. development and application of task-based approaches with learners from different disciplines. levels of language proficiency and skills. they foreground the theoretical framework of activity theory (AT) to explore research in the field over the last ten years utilizing interdisciplinary perspectives. Examining task-based language learning using the double lens of sociocultural theory and the pedagogical approach to TBLT. ICALL is shown to draw on research from artificial . consists of four empirical studies engaging with the design. In Chapter 2. as well as highlighting differences in contexts (Chapters 7–10). Chapter 4 foregrounds the marginal area of Intelligent CALL (ICALL). cultural. indicating that ICALL can learn from research on L2 task research and vice versa as the technology becomes increasingly sophisticated. ‘Applying Technology-Mediated Tasks’. Schulze views this as a potentially twoway process. In the third chapter Peterson examines research on task design in network-based CALL. The Structure of This Book The book is divided into two parts. linguistic and. above all. Ditfurth provide an overview of recent research studies on the use of computermediated communication in task-based language teaching focusing on the field of telecollaboration. identifying how over the last 30 years it has incorporated task-based design approaches. Part II. Müller-Hartmann and Schocker-v. map the broader theoretical questions shared by L2 task-based research and their influence on computer-mediated communication (Chapters 2–6). The five chapters in Part I entitled. disciplinary.

Hampel examines a number of questions concerned with the motivational and interactive potential of tasks in distance learning environments. Chapter 5 discusses a study of multimodal text chat incorporating both synchronous and asynchronous aspects with Japanese learners of English. there is clear potential for developing task-based design approaches. Moreover. Raith and Hegelheimer consider the important role of technology in supporting language teacher development in Chapter 8. . the chapter explores how TBLT competencies can be improved through the use of reflective e-portfolios. Findings suggest that e-portfolios can be used to aid reflective practice when guided by specific criteria founded on standard-based questions. In Chapter 6 Collentine highlights a number of important issues at the interface of TBLT and CALL by focusing on the knowledge required by materials designers in order to promote the task conditions that foster linguistic complexity. Based on an analysis of accuracy. Drawing on a model from Richards and Rogers (1986/2001). and though it has often emphasized this at the expense of SLA theory. thus offering student teachers the ability to engage in a community of practice and to enhance the development of competencies through mutual asynchronous feedback. Collentine attempts to add to the general TBLT research about the types of tasks that yield learner linguistic complexity. findings are presented from two studies involving the UK Open University that show that online environments have significant implications for the process of task design not envisaged by L2 classroom-based studies. Hampel’s discussion of task design for virtual learning environments (VLE) in the context of distance learning courses is the subject of Chapter 7.Deconstructing Tasks and Technology 9 intelligence (AI) as well as natural language processing (NLP). Presenting data from a large-scale qualitative research study on student teachers in Germany. Highlighting an empirical study using tasks in synchronous computer mediated-communication in the United States. complexity and discourse in CMC. it is then necessary for teachers to consider the most effective way to exploit the individual features of the mode for successful implementation of task-based language learning. As an under-researched area. Stockwell argues that teachers need to be aware of how the mode can affect the message when learners undertake tasks through CMC.

The chapter considers Ellis’ (2003) useful ‘task vs. Many teachers and learners remain unconvinced or unaware of their value and the technology is often underutilized. particularly by higher education administrators. they identify ways in which digital technologies have the potential to help overcome them. In considering a number of critical objections to TBLT (Ellis. they adopt a more inclusive approach to task-based research in CALL. testing it along with Long’s notions of focus on form and content by critically examining learner activities within a VW simulation. The aim remains to ground technology-mediated language . Hauck’s discussions derives from a study of learners’ e-literacy skills during a four-way telecollaborative encounter in 2008 between pre. both approaches need to learn from each other. lie at the centre of Chapter 10. In the Afterword to the collection. 2003). The under-researched factors that shape task design. and language learners (German and English) from the United Kingdom and Poland. In order for CALL to be more central to language learning pedagogy and for task-based approaches to make the leap from theory to practice. The need to use technology in language learning is frequently made in English-speaking countries. the study examined the interrelationship between multimodal literacy and online communication by offering an analysis of online resources and environments and their communication modes. principally in relation to a study on telecollaboration. choice and implementation in TBLT. arguing that though TBLT has not been overtly used as a context for such work. Presenting two vignettes arising from the MA in Educational Technology and TESOL at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. Based on a sequence of tasks using digital technologies. often for reasons unrelated to pedagogy.10 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Reeder’s case study of an ICALL prototype called Edubba in Chapter 9 draws on research in NLP to create authentic language learning tasks related to professional journalism. a lot of CALL research on tasks can provide a foundation for future work. few full-scale programmes have been implemented. present and future of TBLT in relation to CALL research.and in-service teacher trainees from the United States and Germany. While task-based approaches seem to be gaining in popularity. Motteram and Thomas examine the past. exercise’ distinction.

M. present and future. Castells. (2001). New York: Collier Books. Breen. M. Computer applications in second language acquisition: Foundations for teaching. society and culture (Vol. C. J. Cambridge.msu. and to examine how L2 learners react to pedagogical tasks in the diverse digital environments in which they now find themselves. 3(1). J. C. 23–46). Foreign-language learning with digital technologies. Language Learning & Technology. Research questions for a CALL research agenda: A reply to Rafael Salaberry. & Kinginger. 31(1). —(2003). 7(3). 7(1). P. (1986). (Ed. F. K. González-Lloret. C. The cross-linguistic development of address form use in telecollaborative language learning: Two case studies. Learner contributions to task design. London: Prentice Hall. London & New York: Continuum. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing. Belz. Reducing foreign language communication apprehension with computer-mediated communication: A preliminary study. Oxford: Blackwell. System. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 7). (1986). System. & Murphy. & Long. Carter. M. Language learning tasks (Lancaster Practical Papers in English Language Education. N. Designing task-based CALL to promote interaction: En Busca de Esmeraldas. The information age: Economy. M. Retrieved 1 November 2009. NJ: Prentice Hall.. D. Language learning tasks (pp. N. (2009). (2003). D. Doughty.. CALL – past.Deconstructing Tasks and Technology 11 learning tasks in research on SLA. R. 13. Cambridge guide to teaching English to speakers of other languages. 68–87. —(2001). (1999). Candlin. Ellis.. 189–214. S. Evans. References Arnold. Collentine. Murphy (Eds). I). from http://llt. 13–28. 469–486. (2003). English language learning and technology: Lectures on applied linguistics in the age of information and communication technology. (2003). Language Learning and Technology. Learner use of holistic language units in multimodal. Task-based language learning and teaching. Language Learning & Technology. C. taskbased synchronous computer-mediated communication. MA. J. 108–113. The Rise of the network society. (2003). It is hoped this collection will make a contribution to this process. Chapelle. M. J. (2000).).edu/vol7num1/gonzalez/ . Experience and education. (1938). 50–80. H. testing. Optimal psycholinguistic environments for distance foreign language learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Canadian Modern Language Review.. (2009). Bax. 59(2). Dewey. Candlin & D. 35. and research. Englewood Cliffs. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Vol. Language Learning & Technology. & Nunan. (2002). 86–104. (2007). R. F. In C. N.

Focus on form. 16. Pedagogical design of computer-mediated communication tasks: Learning objectives and technological capabilities. Curriculum. (2009). 391–411. M. & Bygate. Exeter. the Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger. Gruba. P. Section 2. In N. Müller-Hartmann. 59–86). G. Kern (Eds). & White. J. C.. and technology. Levy. G. 265–284). The Modern Language Journal. syllabus and task design. (1999). (2008). M. A. (1991). TESOL Quarterly. & Stockwell. M. 131–134). In K. UK: Elm Bank.. 141–164). (2010). Skehan. 84(1).12 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology —(2007). D. Plenary delivered at the 3rd International Task-Based Language Teaching Conference. 26. Lisse. Negotiation in cyberspace: The role of chatting in the development of grammatical competence. Tasks in second language learning. Bygate. Tasks and technology in language learning: Elective affinities and (dis)encounters. & Knobel. & Crookes. M. 28–37. (2003). New literacies: Changing knowledge and classroom learning. Perth: University of Western Australia Press. Implementing tasks through technology. Van den Branden. The role of tasks in promoting intercultural learning in electronic learning networks. Long. (1989). Computer assisted language learning (CALL). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lankshear.. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. September 13–16.. In K. Tasks in action: Task-based language education from a classroom-based perspective (pp. Pellettieri. M. 623–648). M. 129–147. Meskill. K. CA-EAP: A multitask software package for the teaching of academic writing. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. P. Mahwah. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. From blogs to bombs: The future of digital technologies in education. (2000).. Computer Assisted Language Learning. Bygate & J. The handbook of Applied Linguistics (pp. Elder (Eds). Verhelst (Eds). Harwood (Ed. H. Norris (Eds). Networked-based language teaching: Concepts and practice (pp.. In K. Computers as tools for sociocollaborative language learning. Cambridge: University of Cambridge. (2006). 4(2). In M.). Language Learning & Technology. Buckingham & Philadelphia: Open University Press. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. L. M. Van Gorp & M. Norris. H. (2000). Newcastle. R. Designing tasks for the communicative classroom. J. Warschauer & R. Lancaster. Davies & C.). M. (1996). UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CALL dimensions: Options and issues in computer assisted language Learning. 27–55.). C. In K. (1999). Cameron (Ed. (2009). Reinders. & Van den Branden. . Three approaches to task-based syllabus design. (2009). Cameron (Ed. Van den Branden. M. Ortega. design and applications (pp. (2004). C. Nunan. (2003). Task-based language teaching: A reader (pp. Materials in ELT: Theory and practice. CALL & the learning community (pp. Salaberry. tasks. J. 345–354). K. G. Pegrum.. Computer assisted language learning (CALL): Media. Mills. In A. The theory and practice of technology in materials development and task design. Samuda.

L. R.). (1978). Mahwah. Stewart. Warschauer. & Norris.. . In S. T. Tokyo: Logos International. Web 2. (2009). Task-based language teaching: Some questions and answers. Computer assisted language learning: An introduction. M. D. 33(3). Bygate. Willis. 82–99. Fotos (Ed. Vygotsky. J. Cambridge. Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes.. J. (Eds). Electronic literacies: Language. (2000). 82–119. culture. Categorization of text chat communication between learners and native speakers of Japanese. M. (2009). Language Learning & Technology. —(1999). M. & Harrison. 3–20). E. The Language Teacher. Discourse functions and syntactic complexity in synchronous and asynchronous communication. Task-based language teaching: A reader. and power in online education. Language Learning & Technology. (2009). 3–8. 9–13. PA: IGI Global. Will new English curriculum for 2013 work? The Language Teacher. K. Van den Branden. (2009). (Ed. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. (1996). Thomas. (2002). NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. & Willis. S. M. Multimedia language teaching (pp. Toyoda. 4(1). M.. S..). 33(11).0 and second language learning.Deconstructing Tasks and Technology 13 Sotillo. Hershey. MA: Harvard University Press. 6(1).

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Part I Research on Tasks in CALL .

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Samuda & Bygate. Van den Branden. both on the classroom level as well as in relation to the larger contextual factors concerned with where classrooms are situated. 2004. Van den Branden. For a long time. We see a clear need though to learn more about the many factors that influence TBLT in CMC. 1–35). research on language learning and teaching has followed two different research paradigms. Samuda & Bygate. Nunan. pp. Samuda and Bygate (2008. 2003. 2003. research on second language acquisition (SLA). TBLT and tasks in language pedagogy have become more integrated (Ellis. 2008). Samuda & Bygate 2008.g. 219) affirm that ‘broader understandings of the ways that tasks can contribute to language learning and teaching . TBLT research in computer-mediated communication (CMC) is characterized by similar developments. 2006) and the pedagogical approach to TBLT (e. . This is why we have decided to look at TBLT research in CMC environments through the double lens of the sociocultural approach of activity theory (AT) (Lantolf & Thorne. Ditfurth Introduction Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) has been established for some time now as one of the main approaches to language learning and teaching worldwide (Ellis. p. p. as ‘both teachers and researchers’ have been concerned with finding those ‘tasks that work best for learning’ (Ellis. must be grounded in [an] understanding of “task” as a pedagogic tool in different contexts of use. . however.Chapter 2 Research on the Use of Technology in Task-Based Language Teaching Andreas Müller-Hartmann and Marita Schocker-v. 2006). 2006). the psycholinguistic approach and the sociocultural approach (see Ellis. 2008. 34). 2003. 2003. During the last few years.’ .

18 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology This is also true for the use of technology. activity and agency. We also include contributions from other fields. It is also related to two of the central concepts of AT. Van den Branden (2006. Samuda and Bygate’s analysis of general TBLT research shows many parallels to the research on technology and TBLT. In our overview we will discuss how this research field has developed during the last ten years by focusing on telecollaborative learning environments. we will present the sociocultural concept of AT as a theoretical framework to structure the research findings. Before we look at this development though. pp. This includes looking at learners’ perceptions of tasks. 4) defines a task as ‘an activity in which a person engages in order to attain an objective. we need to ground the research agenda in the prevailing model of multi-literacies. . 203). as it contains the relevant qualifying features of a pedagogical task (i. 1–21. 124) to be able to make ‘informed decisions about task design.e. 62–70). 2008. 69–70) also subscribe to a pedagogical perspective on TBLT. pp. After having outlined general developments in TBLT and CMC. such as general distance learning. They conclude that we need to study ‘teachers’ uses of tasks’ (p. involvement.’ We subscribe to this definition. selection and sequencing over extended periods of instruction and for guiding decisions about the timing of teacher interventions’ (p. Developments in TBLT and CMC Task definition and the development of general TBLT research There has been a plethora of task definitions over the last 30 years (for an overview see Ellis 2003. and which necessitates the use of language. pointing out that in TBLT research. For too long ‘perceptions of task-based language teaching (TBLT)’ have been seen ‘as a top-down initiative . p. Samuda & Bygate. pp. activity. the pedagogical dimension is often missing. 192–193). since it has an impact on how . since research on technology use can profit from such an interdisciplinary approach. purpose and language use). Samuda and Bygate (2008. imposed on teachers by researchers with limited understanding of the demands of everyday pedagogy’ (pp. .

The texts which learners have access to on the internet are culturally grounded. When learners connect with other learners worldwide. The New London Group argues that the development of literacy needs to consider the multifaceted discourses that globalization enables learners to engage in. p. 173). that is sociocultural and pedagogical approach to research TBLT and CMC. because it integrates individual human agency with larger societal structures (The New London Group. TBLT supports meaning production through technology use. From computer literacy to multi-literacies During the last decade we have moved from a conception of computer literacy to electronic literacy and latterly multi-literacies (Pegrum.Research on the Use of Technology in TBLT 19 technology is put to use in the language classroom. leading to a broader. Task-based research in CMC thus needs to consider these shifts in literacy development. The task of the teacher is to help learners navigate these intertextual environments and support them in developing ICC through a task-based approach that is learnerand problem-oriented. human agency. ‘an electronic literacy framework considers how people use computers to interpret and express meaning’ (Shetzer & Warschauer. While computer literacy merely considered the mastery of the machine. economic. 1996). 1997) to negotiate meaning and cultural differences. but which are also changed through human activity. they need to develop an inter-cultural communicative competence (ICC) (Byram. In this concept there is a constant interplay between individual agency and social. . The development of TBLT research in CMC The changing concept of literacy has had an impact on the development of CMC research paradigms. necessitating an integration of sociocultural and pedagogical research perspectives. 2009). 2000. Chapelle’s work is a case in point. historical and political structures that determine the various discourses and hence. This leads us to the concept of multi-literacies which is the most comprehensive literacy model to date.

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since she has developed from an interactionist SLA perspective (Chapelle, 1997) to a more integrated approach that also considers sociocultural and pedagogical aspects (Chapelle, 2000, 2003). In this context, she considers the pedagogical use of tasks in the CMC classroom as a basis for developing task theory, instead of relying on cognitive approaches that apply theory from the outside to processes in the classroom. This leads her to a wider research approach which looks at ‘the role the computer plays within the larger culture of the classroom’, that is ‘the sociocultural and classroom contexts of CALL’ (Chapelle, 2000, p. 217). This development goes hand in hand with a broader concept of technology use in the language classroom, relating it to the concept of multi-literacies through network-based language teaching (NBLT) (Chapelle, 2000). Today CMC is the prevalent concept of technology use in the language classroom. Depending on the teaching context, computers can be put to different uses, ranging from a language drill tool to one that fosters net-based inter-cultural discussions, a fact that necessitates different research paradigms. In his seminal contribution to TESOL Quarterly in 1998, Warschauer demanded a comprehensive research approach which integrates the micro level of the classroom context and the macro-level of institutional and societal affordances and constraints, that is ‘the broader ecological context that affects language learning and use in today’s society’ (Warschauer, 1998, p. 760). Warschauer differentiated between deterministic, instrumental and critical approaches to guide research on technology and language learning. In the early deterministic paradigm the computer was seen as almighty, bringing about results. But the computer is not a method; it is a tool that needs to be used. This is reflected in the instrumental research paradigm. Here the computer tool serves the purpose of the user. This approach though downplayed ‘how new technologies affect the broader ecology of the language learning environment’ (p. 758). Consequently, Warschauer, quite in line with the multi-literacies’ critical approach, calls for a critical theory of technology which asks questions such as: ‘What new literacies does multimedia computer technology demand, both inside and outside the classroom? . . . How does the sociocultural context of particular educational institutions or communities affect

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the learning and practice of electronic literacies?’ (pp. 758–759). Consequently there is a need for interpretive qualitative research ‘to explore sociocultural contexts through long-term participant observation’, facilitating ‘the examination of crucial but hidden factors, such as underlying power relations in the classroom and community . . . from the point of view of the local actors’ (p. 759). In 2006, Chambers and Bax supported this analysis. Calling for a normalization in CALL research, they argued for a broader research paradigm, stating that we ‘need more description of the learners, settings, and events in [CALL] contexts’ (Huh & Hu, 2005, cited in Chambers & Bax, 2006, p. 467), and we ‘need a better understanding of how exactly all of these factors interact and operate in real pedagogical contexts’. These demands dovetail nicely with a pedagogic research approach to TBLT and CMC. It is closely linked to a growing awareness of the centrality of tasks in CMC environments. Levy and Stockwell (2006, p. 248) have stressed that ‘in established CALL, language-learning task design is very much at the heart of the matter’ (see also Chapelle, 2003). Already in 1997 Furstenberg (1997, p. 24) wrote, ‘our main role, then, is to design tasks. . . . since the task is what gives meaning to the learners’ explorations.’ Hence we need appropriate tasks to facilitate collaborative interaction. While the task-as-workplan is central, we also need to consider the task-as-process and with that learners’ perceptions of the process, because learners perceive tasks differently. Before we look at the extent to which Warschauer’s call from a decade ago has produced research results in telecollaboration, we discuss modern AT as a suitable theoretical framework to structure the research.

AT and the CMC Classroom
In search of a socioculturally oriented research paradigm
In our understanding, language learning is set in a sociocultural context and develops through interaction between teacher and learners as well as among learners on the basis of pedagogical tasks (Lantolf & Thorne, 2006). In sociocultural terms, on the micro-level

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the language classroom is a community of practice, which is characterized by the personal motives of its participants and their relations (Levy & Stockwell, 2006, pp. 28–31). Tasks are designed by the teacher or negotiated between teacher and learners. On the macro-level, this community is influenced by institutional (e.g. school, curriculum) and societal affordances and constraints, such as computer access (see Belz, 2002).

The theoretical framework of AT
AT is a modern development of Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of learning (Engeström, Miettinen & Punamäki, 1999). It encompasses all the above mentioned facets and levels and facilitates a comprehensive research framework for the pedagogical implications of TBLT in the CMC classroom. Human activity is the central unit of analysis in AT. As can be seen in Figure 2.1, all aspects of AT are interrelated and influence each other. It thus represents one activity system (AS). AT differentiates between ASs in the fields of play, education, and work which influence each other. The language classroom is an AS in the field of education. In an AS, activity can be viewed from three different perspectives, hence the three different levels which influence human behaviour in different ways. At the same time the different
Level I Mediational means: symbolic and material artifacts

Level II

Subject, subject collective

Object

Outcome

Level III

Community

Rules

Division of labour

Figure 2.1 Activity system (based on Engeström et al., 1999)

Research on the Use of Technology in TBLT

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perspectives focus on one event. In our case this is constituted by the activities learners engage in as a result of tasks which are mediated through tools and artefacts (Level I), such as the foreign language, materials or tools. The learners form part of a community (Level III), that is the language classroom and an educational institution. The rules and norms in this community have developed historically and impact on the classroom level. When setting up a telecollaborative project based on problemoriented tasks which learners negotiate themselves, rules of traditional classroom interaction (e.g. the Initiate, Response, Follow-up or IREF pattern) will not facilitate collaborative interaction. Therefore, a taskbased approach to teaching is more appropriate in this collaborative setting. Rules also function on the societal level such as pragmatic rules of politeness in inter-cultural task negotiation. If not adhered to, inter-cultural misunderstanding and the breakdown of communication can ensue (O’Dowd, 2006; Ware, 2005). Finally, the division of labour concerns ‘the actions and interactions among the members of the community’ (Thorne, 2004, p. 58), and division of power and status. This, then, comprises the social roles and cultural identities of learners and teachers as well as the hierarchical relationships between them. Level II is particularly important because it represents the processes in the classroom. The subject is the teacher and the subject collective the learners. Learners possibly share the same object, in our case, learning the language via CMC. However, they may do this for different reasons. Teachers design tasks with the help of computers to engage learners in the process of language learning, the outcome of which, as intended by teacher and curriculum (rules), would be the inter-cultural speaker (Byram, 1997, p. 38). Research looks at the pedagogical approach to tasks in detail, as it is here that learning is organized. Consequently, we research the classroom from the inside or emic perspective of its participants and their behaviour or agency (Thorne, 2004, p. 57).

Distinguishing activity from task
In AT, an activity represents a more comprehensive category which only includes language learning tasks as one factor. As Coughlan and

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Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology

Duff (1994, p. 175) clarify, ‘an activity . . . comprises the behaviour that is actually produced when an individual (or group) performs a task. It is the process, as well as the outcome, of a task, examined in its sociocultural context.’ This distinction is important, since it describes the role of pedagogic tasks in the larger frame of an activity. If we consider the classroom and its processes as an AS, the participants in this community, the subject (teacher), the subject collective (learners), the process of language learning through TBLT (object) and the inter-cultural speaker as outcome comprise the activity in the sense of AT.

Three levels of human activity: activity, action, operation
When looking at the object of the AS we can distinguish three levels of human activity that represent different analytical perspectives on one event. As Lantolf and Thorne (2006, p. 216) explain, activity (1) asks why something is done (and therefore refers to what motivates involvement in an activity); action (2) describes what takes place (and therefore refers to the goal or product of an activity); and operations (3) say how it is carried out (and therefore refers to the process and the conditions under which something is done). Teacher and learners may have different motives in their activities of developing/becoming language speakers. While the teacher might want learners to develop language accuracy when interacting in a telecollaborative project, learners might have different motives. Some learners might focus on task completion, ignoring their partners’ attempts at further socializing (O’Dowd, 2006). In AT parlance different objects thus orient learners’ behaviour in the classroom. Consequently activities can be distinguished from each other by their objects. The level of action comprises the relationship between task-asworkplan and task-as-process (Ellis, 2003, pp. 5–6). The teacher will design a task sequence which engages learners in a process of negotiation. In the process, the teacher might realize that s/he should have provided more task structure, as learners are unable to complete the task, or s/he might realize that learners have changed the task depending on their motives. Hence, in the task-as-process

p. Due to the social-material conditions and learners’ automatized or habitual behaviour. who decides what the object of activity is? How will the outcome be evaluated. Learner agency is also related to questions of power (Level III) since the object of the activity . it is important to realize that from an AT perspective. and with what effects? How tightly are the actions and operations monitored? (Lantolf & Thorne. they may be more or less satisfied with the outcome. resulting in their goal-oriented behaviour being different from that of other learners and/or the teacher. 2006. On the centrality of the concept of activity As the above discussion shows. research on CMC in TBLT has examined such questions and has produced a number of interesting results. . the task-as-process might also involve changes on the operational level. Learner agency also has an impact on the learning process. teachers and learners are active subjects or agents who influence the process and the outcomes due to their personal histories. in turn. . This. 223) As we will see in the following sections. due to their habitualized writing competence in chat environments. social-material conditions might hinder the negotiation of tasks on the operational level. . . Also. In CMC environments. is also a nexus of power and resistance in language educational contexts. the concept of activity or human agency is central. Learners who already possess multi-literate competences may display expertise in synchronous communication (chat) while other learners may not. that is.Research on the Use of Technology in TBLT 25 phase learners might interpret the task-as-workplan differently. . and by whom. their goals and their language proficiency levels. Consequently the task outcome may be different for different learners. as access to the computer might be restricted for one group of learners. . This will have an impact on their task completion on the operational level. since the learners negotiate the task-as-workplan with their teacher and among themselves. will have an impact on future motives when participating in such learning environments.

and they also received more mails from other team . Role assignments led to higher levels of interconnected messages and a shared collective understanding and deep processing of tasks (Rose. dyads with lots in common. Since the different levels of the AS influence each other. and the inconsistent and ideal high responder). Roles are also important in reducing the burden of managing and coordinating group activities. Groups with leaders handled collaborative group tasks more efficiently. product. As to group patterns they differentiate five kinds of dyads: dyads with nothing in common. the wider institutional/societal influences (Level III) and cross-references to the other parts of Level II will be integrated into the discussion by referring to the respective part of the AS (e. Stockwell and Levy (2001. Strong leaders make more social. 2004).g. the low-motivation. the mismatched dyad. technophobic student. Such heightened structured cooperation and close monitoring of group interaction leads to greater consistent levels of interaction. struggling. more cohesion and increased learning efficiency.g. but groups additionally develop explicit and implicit roles. rules III) or one of the respective chapter headings below. 432–433) have researched six different online learner profiles (e. research findings in terms of the mediational means (Level I). process. pp. and developing friendship dyads. The processes of social cohesion (see later) facilitate the development of a group ‘culture’.26 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Research Findings We will focus on research studies that deal with issues on Level II of the AS (the classroom) because we are particularly interested in the processes on the level of actions as it is here that pedagogical decisions are made. ‘let’s stick to the topics’ dyads. Subject collective (learners) Group member roles Learner roles in groups and online dyads Pair and group work are decisive to initiate and sustain interaction and to come to terms with technology. daunted. and taskbased utterances.

2005). leading to more task-related communication than in weak leadership teams (Heckman & Misiolek. as well as personality variables (e. social (off-task socializing or initiated by tasks) and teaching presence (the degree of the teacher’s presence. 35) which necessitates clear actions and clear indicators of progress. Weaker leadership seems to lead to more participation in the substantive task work of the group. group members’ knowledge of multimodal tools and the experience with problem-solving. Research has shown that most learner groups tend to split up the task among them (pp. Getting-to-know and other nonroutine tasks create a perceived need for more group structure flexibility. teaching presence). The influence of task features on effective virtual teamwork Dundis and Benson (2003) list task variables such as members’ individual subject matter knowledge. But strong leadership did not necessarily lead to better performance. p. 30–31 for a task typology). the more interaction is required. 22). The relationship between social presence and cognitive presence has an effect on learners’ motives and task completion (activity/motives). Task complexity is another issue. Social presence and group cohesion Presence refers to ‘a student’s sense of being in and belonging in a course and the ability to interact with other students and an instructor although physical contact is not available’ (Picciano. while procedural guidelines and specifying group roles can support performance. They also describe the form of swift trust which develops ‘around high levels of action in performance of the task’ (p.Research on the Use of Technology in TBLT 27 members. 2002. where members are considered more equal (rules III). Hence the group can profit from this weaker leadership. If we want learners to establish and maintain social relationships so that multi-literacies can develop. The more demanding the task. 2005) and the . virtual teamwork skills. understanding different points of view) that help form more effective virtual teams. Presence includes cognitive (task-related work). social presence (Garrison & Cleveland-Innes.g. the ability to work with others.

Furstenberg. group support and ongoing collaboration support this. Müller-Hartmann. Dundis and Benson (2003. Berge (1995) found four teacher roles: the pedagogical (the educational facilitators . the higher the number of reflective interactions’ (see also. thus making task performance more efficient (Dooly’s. At the same time. 2000). English & Maillet. if for no other reason than the task at hand. 2003). the awareness of being connected to others helps learners not to feel alone. 282–290. 260) concludes that ‘the more time is allowed for social induction and the establishing of group membership. teachers should enhance socializing through tasks (action/goal-orientation. since it is facilitated through the interlocutor’s image (Yamada & Akahori. An initial face-to-face (FTF) phase. Lamy (2007. 2006. consistent but flexible cohort structure. p. 20). Knoll and Jarvenpaa (1998) present a list of functional and dysfunctional behaviours as to collaboration and conclude that ‘there may be real value in forcing people to socialize’ (p. p.’ Everybody’s commitment. trust and participation are necessary to achieve a sense of community and a high level of social presence when completing tasks. p. 2007. On the affective level. S/he must help learners engage with the tools and facilitate ICC processes to a larger extent than in FTF classrooms. Lewet. see O’Dowd. 2001). 2007). Since engaging in social comments helps learners develop trust. On Level (I) voice chat or video help establish social presence. 2003. 35) define group cohesion this way: ‘groups perform better when they sense themselves as a unified team with a shared sense of responsibility. because it provides more time on task to express opinions and to focus on accuracy. In her study of synchronous communication Lamy (2007) calls for a reduction of learners’ anxiety (establishing trust). Subject (teacher) Teacher roles Dimensions of teacher roles In CMC contexts the number of teacher or tutor roles increases. learners consider text-based chat to be more relaxed than audio/video conferencing. Fuchs. continuous building of ongoing relationships.28 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology development of group cohesion play important roles (Reffay & Chanier. pp. 1).

139–140. facilitation and direction of tasks in the CMC environment. p. teaching presence is quite different from a teacher-centred approach to teaching. Teachers and learners share the responsibility of promoting interactive learning. 2003. It comprises the design. . that is. Teaching presence Teaching presence is the most promising mechanism for developing online learning communities. Chun & Pickett. varying as to their decreasing control and monitoring of the group interaction in relation to the task at hand (Ahern. 1998. which also has an impact on task design and negotiation (O’Dowd. Kern. tasks (Shea. we move to the central level of TBLT where task-as-workplan and task-as-process are negotiated between teacher (subject) and learners (subject collective). pp. Swan. the monitor and the facilitator. because it represents the link between the learners’ sense of a learning community and the fact that this community has been designed through effective instructions.Research on the Use of Technology in TBLT 29 set tasks). Teaching presence is more pronounced in these situations (Appel & Gilabert. 2006. activity/goal-orientation). managerial (the teacher sets the agenda as to objectives and rules) and the technical role. Object: activity – action – operations With the object level. Research in school-based studies produced three pedagogical teacher roles – the moderator. 2002. 229–230). 145). conform to. providing more task support. Ware and Warschauer (2004) point out that teachers have to develop from an omniscient informant role to one that focuses on structure. interpretation and reflection of the intercultural experience. 2002. 2003). and contradict learners’ understandings. teachers monitor the taskas-process more closely. Encouraging participation and interaction over time. to question. as well as in the classroom (Garrison & Anderson. 2005). When learners exhibit difficulties. pp. see also action/goal orientation). In inter-cultural telecollaboration the teacher’s role is still more complex because they need to become inter-cultural speakers before they can facilitate ICC (Belz & Müller-Hartmann. social (the teacher is responsible for group cohesion).

Dooly (2007) concludes that early and consistent collaboration ensures high motivation. because more learners with different cultural identities participate. . having a direct effect on task negotiation between learners. anxiety and sociability. Belz and Müller-Hartmann (2002) have shown that American learners of German primarily pursue language-learning goals. whereas German learners of English focus on the development on ICC. focusing on task completion more than on socializing. Kern (2006. Novelty of the CMC environment can lead to higher motivation. 2003. Learners’ anxiety depends a lot on personality. they can have a discouraging effect. After the collaborative experience. the higher their motivation to become involved (Appel & Gilabert. O’Dowd & Ritter. 2006. when the personal goals for the project are rejected. p. but if this is one-sided it can have a negative effect on the social cohesion of inter-institutional teams (Belz & Müller-Hartmann. see group cohesion). 2002. her learners were convinced that tasks can be negotiated between learners and teachers and need not simply be set by the teacher (action/goal orientation). Ware. Ware and Kramsch (2005) therefore suggest that learners take a decentred perspective during the interaction. O’Dowd. The more the learners personally get out of a task. among them intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. 200) concludes that American learners seem to be more task-oriented than German learners. When non-experts are confronted with tasks which do not work for them. as teaching styles affect learners’ attitude and motives. 2006. pp. 90–91) points out that there was lower motivation with tighter teacher control of tasks or with little integration of CMC tasks into the overall course (teaching presence). which allows them to understand each others’ cultural groundings and different motives. risk-taking. 2002). O’Dowd (2003) reports from Spanish-American dyads that intrinsic motivation is lost. 2005. Ortega (1997. The effect of cultural heterogeneity on learner motivation Telecollaborative environments are particularly prone to divergent goals or motives. The perception of tasks can also have an impact on motives.30 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Activity: what motivates learners to engage in tasks? Learners have different motives for engaging in tasks.

39–40). 2002. In telecollaboration. task structures and task sequencing. focuses on how to organize the interaction. specifically by using role assignment to divide up the work (group member roles). Learner motivation is also enhanced through the visibility and diffusion of the task outcome when published on the internet (Appel & Gilabert. different task types. Huot. Appel and Gilabert (2002) have shown that if tasks are asked for interaction with partners. task design. In collaborative tasks learners engage in constructive dialogue to develop a shared concept of a product. It should allow learners to develop cultural knowledge about partners (Furstenberg et al. This involves the question of how learners’ task-as-process relates to the teacher’s task-as-workplan. more equitable learner participation. Task-as-workplan – designing tasks in CMC Research shows that learners prefer task variety. 2004). Action: what is the goal of the activity? In this chapter we look at research that describes what learners negotiate to reach the goal or product of an activity. The higher learners’ competence in using different tools.Research on the Use of Technology in TBLT The role of tools for learner motivation 31 Research has conclusively shown that new tools (Level I) have a motivational impact on learners (Appel & Gilabert. that is. Task type is related to the kind of group work learners engage in. . language production is increased in asynchronous environments. 2003. Kiernan & Aizawa. is especially pertinent to successful interaction. on the other hand. Hamers & Lemonnier. and the function of turn-taking. Paulus (2005) differentiates between collaborative and cooperative task types. 2002). which has to be negotiated in detail between partners (community III). Jarrell and Freiermuth (2005) affirm that chats were preferred by learners because of their affective aspect. pp. Cooperation. the more they are able to function as autonomous learners or even change agents (Parks.

goals and constraints of both contexts. whereas non-structured environments turned learners into teacher-followers and few cohesive groups developed. 2005). and learners expected language correction they did not receive. This means that teachers must define clear expectations. She shows that the multimodal approach in an audiographic environment supports written. but without sufficient training this can have a negative effect on task negotiation. According to Hauck (2007). and cohesive group structure (group cohesion). the quality is more important. Hampel (2006) clarifies that the affordances of tools need to be considered in task design. In terms of task sequencing. 2000). when assessing risks of misunderstandings in collaborative projects. This is also linked to the degree of teaching presence. as there were clearer expectations on the teacher’s side. graphic and oral modes. 2005). . learners need carefully sequenced tasks to be able to build on previous interaction (Ware & O’Dowd. which will then facilitate negotiation on the content level (social presence). Structured environments with a clear task sequence which provide opportunities for dialogic interaction.32 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology 2001. Wu and Hiltz (2004) want to see this quality improved through a clearly structured design and guidance through sufficient task support (teaching presence). Although the quantity of interactive moves plays a role in establishing social presence. select manageable content and structure appropriate tasks with a focus on meaning (Garrison & Cleveland-Innes. They come to the conclusion that tasks should be negotiated with learners at the outset. Müller-Hartmann. This is because teachers need to find a compromise in task design that includes the needs. Biesenbach-Lucas and Meloni (2002) have shown that increased guidance using prompts led to longer e-mails and the increased goal-orientation of learners’ contributions. task design is considered to be a high-risk area. led to high levels of critical thinking. O’Dowd and Ritter (2006) describe how the teachers’ choice of topics hindered the development of relationships. hence questions of structuring and monitoring arise (teaching presence). Weasenforth. Consequently the quality of interaction must be a clearly designed goal (Garrison & Cleveland-Innes. Sufficient social interaction is necessary to establish a relationship.

the choice of introductory tasks plays an important role. depends on the level of their technical proficiency. If learners do not have any experience in negotiation from their FTF classroom (rules III). The role of the tutor is to encourage reflection. 1998. teachers can monitor the task-as-process more closely to provide additional structure and task support (Appel & Gilabert. 2001. laying the foundation for a positive working relationship between international teams (see also Liaw. Task-as-process – negotiating tasks in CMC Offering learners the opportunity to negotiate tasks has a positive effect on motivation and consequently performance. Whether learners are able to do so. but also to allow individual learners to . Fuchs (2006) and O’Dowd (2006) have used ethnographic examples of learner exchanges which demonstrate misunderstandings. While topics always need to be relevant to the learners’ life. however. Müller-Hartmann. where teachers integrate online-tasks in FTF lessons to be able to provide instructions and guidance for learners to help them move from cultural monologue to inter-cultural dialogue. Stockwell and Levy (2001) also affirm that TBLT can be enhanced on a macro-level through a project-based framework. Levy and Stockwell (2006) show that FTF phases usually preceded online task phases. which learners should decide together with their partners (Stockwell & Levy. To prepare learners for CMC in inter-cultural contexts. 2002). 2000). to develop a multi-perspective view on the negotiated topic. Generally learning is best organized in a blended learning environment. followed by more complicated tasks. In this regard. 435). Stockwell (2003) found that longer interaction sequences depend on topic choice. Belz and Müller-Hartmann (2002) also demand an extended introductory phase. to develop learners’ awareness of this issue at the beginning of the exchange. with social tasks to develop group cohesion (group cohesion). O’Dowd & Eberbach (2004).Research on the Use of Technology in TBLT 33 2008). p. Beginners need more stimuli and more structured tasks. Wang (2007) suggests starting with short tasks about social issues in chats so that learners can get used to the tool.

that is giving learners sufficient choice in task negotiation and task completion. Time is another influential factor in task performance. Beatty and Nunan (2004) affirm that learners are not always able to deal with open learning environments and thus need more scaffolding in terms of task support. 272) affirms that task negotiation in CMC is much more complex than it might initially appear. 2006. 2007. Liaw (1998) has shown how assigned discussion topics for social chat sessions are helpful for learners. Fuchs (2006. as this facilitates negotiation (O’Dowd. supporting the task-as-process on the operational level. Operations: how is the activity carried out? This level is influenced by the tools (Level I) learners use. group cohesion). In her German-American dyads only one group discussed the goals and expectations of the project with their partners (group cohesion). The degree of reflective interaction depends on the time allocated for social interaction and the establishment of group membership (Lamy. The teacher plays an important role in enhancing learners’ use of technical tools. 2003) for different forms of scaffolding. because they cannot always manage to develop mutual support through collaboration (see also Appel & Gilabert. p. 2006).34 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology pursue their trajectories of participation. The teacher mainly provides technical (and topic) support and helps revive failing communication. triggering and supporting learner interaction. In telecollaborative settings the choice of topic is important. 2002). 121). Scaffolding task support In TBLT online environments scaffolding is a central issue since structure is more important than in FTF contexts (Hampel. They facilitate interaction and negotiation for different learner types. Goodell and Yusko (2005) point out that teachers need to minimize . Learners also scaffold each other in chats (Shekary & Tahririan. 2006) enabling the teacher to monitor less (see Parks et al. p.

We would like to close with Samuda and Bygate’s (2008) view of future directions in general task-based research in the language classroom. inter-cultural communication. 2000. The number of such studies is on the rise (e. researchers have progressed in response to Warschauer’s 1998 call for more sociocultural and pedagogical studies. because contextual factors vary tremendously and heterogeneous groups of learners bring different motives to these learning environments (for exceptions. Zhao. has an impact on their learning process (Levy & Stockwell. Appel & Gilabert. Conclusion As this overview of research studies has shown. We are still lacking classroom-based research. 2003. 2006). 2006). 2004) and Parks et al. We especially need classroom action research projects. 2003). The complexity of factors involved in these learning environments need a mixed methods approach which integrates both qualitative and quantitative research. 2004). 2004) or monitoring tools to assist tutors in following collaborative group processes (Reffay & Chanier. which . The number of research studies is impressive. expanding the focus beyond language to culture. Warschauer (2004) has acknowledged this recent shift in research from single classrooms to long-distance collaboration. Dooly. Belz & Müller-Hartmann. 2008. We have tried to show in our overview that AT provides a viable theoretical framework that allows the integration of sociocultural and pedagogical aspects of research on CMC in TBLT.g. 2003). Some of the studies are based on the AT paradigm. however. the notion of context beyond the local setting and to a broader social discourse (see also Hauck & Stickler. such as Thorne (2003. and their perception of the tools. (2003). Savignon & Roithmeier.Research on the Use of Technology in TBLT 35 learners’ frustrations with technical problems because learners’ competence in handling tools. Together with Kern and Ware. such as wireless tools (Kiernan & Aizawa. see Müller-Hartmann. 2002. 1999. 2007). in primary and secondary schools (Samuda & Bygate. Research has also been extended to new areas.

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Chapter 3 Task-Based Language Teaching in Network-Based CALL: An Analysis of Research on Learner Interaction in Synchronous CMC Mark Peterson Introduction This chapter explores the expanding use of tasks in network-based computer-assisted language learning (CALL). The influence of both psycholinguistic and sociocultural interactionist accounts of second language acquisition (SLA) on task design is explored. produced contradictory findings and is subject to limitations. this is followed by a critical review of influential studies in the literature on learner-based projects involving real-time interaction in types of CMC where the interaction is carried out through the medium of typed text. The discussion then provides an overview of rationales proposed for the use of tasks in network-based CALL. at the same time. and examines the hypothesized advantages and limitations of synchronous text-based computermediated communication (CMC) as an environment for language learning. which suggest that the predominant approach to task-based learning (TBL) currently utilized in CMC-based CALL . As there has been little research that has considered the effectiveness of this approach from a holistic perspective. The analysis reveals that although the majority of studies indicate that task-based interaction may be beneficial with regard to aspects of second language (L2) learning such as negotiation of meaning. The discussion further draws attention to findings. this body of research has. A total of nine studies involving the major types of network-based environments currently utilized in CALL are investigated.

for example. This process. Over the past several decades. provide feedback in order to maintain the flow of communication and overcome the problem. facilitating SLA (Pica. 2006. they have increasingly focused on exploring the potential of interaction in facilitating the process of SLA (Gass. developments in task-based language teaching (TBLT) have been greatly influenced by the psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic strands of SLA research (Hampel. known as negotiation of meaning. 2000). 1985). Two particular types of interaction are discussed in the literature. comprehension checks. confirmation checks and clarification requests. however. The following discussion will examine the above accounts and explore the influence of interactionist SLA on the design and use of tasks in language education. 1994. the use of repair strategies such as. In this context. 1996). Van den Branden. This chapter concludes by identifying a number of areas with potential in future research. The first kind of interaction occurs when learners have to overcome a communication problem. during face-to-face (FTF) interaction tasks which facilitate the transfer of information (in an effort to achieve a goal) are valuable. Psycholinguistic research further highlights the importance of engaging learners in a second type of interaction that involves the . From this perspective.42 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology fails to provide sufficient focus on form and does not fully maximize the potential of the affordances provided by computer-based interaction. Psycholinguistic Research and its Influence on TBLT Researchers who propose the psycholinguistic account of SLA perceive interaction as an important influence on L2 development. Bygate & Norris. frequently results in the production of comprehensible input and also modified target language output. Varonis & Gass. These accounts differ in their attempts to comprehend the nature of cognition. as they push learners to employ strategies that facilitate the restructuring of their interlanguage (Long. This emphasis on the role played by interaction in language development has also been a focus in research on network-based CALL and will be examined at a later stage of this chapter. 2009).

Furthermore. focus on form is necessary for sustained L2 development (Skehan. nonetheless suggest that utilizing tasks in language classrooms can promote processes identified in the psycholinguistic account of L2 development such as noticing. found that tasks involving information exchange between learners provided a higher incidence of interactional modifications than those found in a teacher-fronted classroom.TBLT in Network-Based CALL 43 use of tasks which enable learners to not only negotiate meaning. 1991). Research involving non-native speaker learners based in Japan and undertaken by Fotos (1993) showed that noticing and a focus on form related to grammar may be facilitated by the application of problem-solving tasks. A study conducted by Pica and Doughty (1985). 2003a). 5). more negotiation occurred in the pairs than in the groups. it is claimed that learners can be encouraged to attend to form through an intensive focus on particular linguistic forms and also through the provision of corrective feedback (Ellis. . focus on form and negotiation. In the context of TBL. 2005). 2001. Ellis and Takashima (1999) reported in a study based on classroom interaction that the use of tasks appeared to support the acquisition of past tense forms. The analysis indicated that negotiation of meaning was more frequent in the tasks that required the exchange of information. The process of noticing enables learners to compare their interlanguage with a target form and promotes a conscious ability to ‘notice the gap’ (Schmidt. p. but also focus on form (Long. The above findings though not conclusive. Gass and Varonis (1994) investigated the interaction of 16 non-native speaker dyads and found that task-based interaction may foster noticing. Research has explored the potential effects of task characteristics and conditions on the above types of interaction. These types of interaction are viewed as important. as during problems in comprehension or production they enable learners to engage in the process of conscious noticing of linguistic elements. Foster (1998) explored the implementation of information exchange tasks (where the exchange was either optional or required) with learners working in dyads and groups. From a psycholinguistic perspective. Porter (1986) reported that non-native speaker task-based interaction produced instances of repair involving the strategies that are associated with the negotiation of meaning.

1994). 1985). Sociocultural theory provides a number of constructs that have been utilized to conceptualize the role of tasks in supporting L2 development. Anton and DiCamilla (1998) found that the subjects in their study utilized intersubjectivity in order to come to a shared perspective on the task. sociocultural theory shares a concern with the role of interaction in L2 learning. In contrast to the psycholinguistic conception of SLA. sociocultural approaches to learning focus on how social. Another related concept emphasized in the sociocultural literature is intersubjectivity. 2000). p. the sociocultural view of language learning places emphasis not on negotiation of meaning or constraints on cognitive processing but on the process described by Vygotsky (1978) as mediation. One of the most well known of these concepts is the zone of proximal development (ZPD). 2003. Through scaffolding. a process known as scaffolding. learners create zones of proximal development involving collaborative dialogue in which a more knowledgeable interlocutor assists a learner in performing an activity they could not complete unaided (Swain. This construct is utilized to explain how learners engaged in task-based interaction undertake functions they could not carry out independently. 2000). Donato (1994) . affect communication and L2 development (Lantolf. a term used to describe ‘a learner’s potential as opposed to actual level of development’ (Ellis. language is perceived as a mediating tool which enables ‘learners to co-construct meaning while engaging in interaction’ (Skehan. 5). Mediation is the process whereby higher mental activities are developed through social interaction involving the use of tools (Donato & McCormick. 2003b. 353). The sociocultural view of learning links this concept to the role of collaborative interaction in task accomplishment. This process creates the conditions where L2 development can occur.44 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Sociocultural Research and Its Influence on TBLT As is the case with the psycholinguistic account of L2 learning. However. Researchers have examined the use of tasks from a sociocultural perspective in a number of studies. In the context of L2 development. p. rather than linguistic variables. This describes the situation where task participants come to a shared perspective over the nature of a task facilitating comprehension and completion (Rommetveit.

proposals for TBLT in network-based CALL based on the findings of sociocultural research have also been made. Psycholinguistic researchers appear. Moreover. interaction and L2 development. the discussion also emphasizes the need for further research into the relationship between tasks. Ohta (2001) reported on the findings of a longitudinal study involving learners of Japanese. The literature on network-based CALL has witnessed an active debate on the nature of online interaction and suitability of current approaches to the use of tasks in online environments. a close fit to learner needs. 2001). Chapelle (2001) drawing on psycholinguistic research. Use of TBLT in Network-Based CALL A number of rationales for the use of tasks in CMC-based CALL have been proposed. For example. However. This section draws attention to the potential of both psycholinguistic and sociocultural interactionist accounts of SLA as a sound theoretical basis for implementing TBL. This feedback played an important role in maintaining the interaction and facilitated the production of accurate target language forms related to the tasks. This view would appear to imply that CMC-based CALL .TBLT in Network-Based CALL 45 reported that learners appeared to engage in scaffolding in order to jointly complete a task that they may not have been able to complete individually. claims that as in other learning environments. the feedback that is a characteristic of scaffolding may support aspects of L2 development. most notably by Meskill (1999). Nassaji and Swain (2000) discovered evidence that during task-based interaction. learning in CMC-based CALL will be most effective when tasks incorporate the following features. to support the view articulated by Chapelle (2000. for the most part. in which he analysed classroom transcripts and found evidence that the subjects utilized collaborative dialogues involving corrective feedback. These include a focus on form. focus on meaning and active participation on the part of learners. that the above task features are effective regardless of the context and that the emergence of network-based learning does not appear to require a significant reconceptualization of CALL.

2003). of using CMC in learner-based CALL projects. CMC further creates an environment which is difficult . Hypothesized Advantages and Limitations of Real-Time Text-Based CMC as an Environment for Language Learning Researchers have identified a number of potential advantages and drawbacks. 1998).46 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology does not require a departure from conventional approaches to task design. most notably by Harrington and Levy (2001. this view has been challenged. and it is to a description of these that this discussion will now turn. Although the presence of multiple threads may cause confusion. 1996). 2002). concerns over pronunciation are removed thus reducing anxiety (Hudson & Bruckman. This results in an overly narrow view of CALL and the L2 learning processes that take place within it.’ This view is echoed by other researchers most notably Salaberry (1999). as in most types of CMC that utilize typed text the delays that frequently occur between turns can support metalinguistic awareness and the noticing of errors (Swaffar. the availability of scrolling enables learners to revisit problematic utterances (Kötter. Studies have produced evidence that the use of text may be beneficial as although some types of simultaneous feedback are reduced. Another advantage of CMC may lie in the additional time it provides learners. 16) who argue that as conventional approaches towards TBLT are heavily influenced by psycholinguistic interactionist research they fail to ‘acknowledge sufficiently the effects of media on L2 learning and its use. This debate shows that CALL theorists view interaction in CMC environments as potentially beneficial for learners. p. However. learners can view their writing on-screen in real-time and edit their messages in private. This aspect may increase the quantity and quality of target language output. A number of advantages (and limitations) of real-time CMC-based interaction have been indentified. These aspects of network-based interaction increase participation and motivation particularly among more reticent learners who are frequently disadvantaged in traditional language classrooms (Warschauer. Turbee & Roberts. Moreover.

The anonymity afforded by online interaction raises the risk of anti-social behaviour. For example. Text-only medium presents a barrier to the formation of interpersonal relationships. language play and exchange of personal information. . the literature. Learners can also edit messages. This may facilitate the development of collaborative interpersonal relationships. This discussion has shown that real-time text-based CMC is considered as an environment with potential for language learning. 2004). activities that are seen as playing an important role in language development (Ortega. while acknowledging possible Table 3. Studies have further shown that the anonymity provided by text-only CMC environments may support the development of cooperative interpersonal relationships based on the exchange of personal information (Bays. 1997).TBLT in Network-Based CALL 47 to replicate in alternative educational settings. leading to experimentation and risk-taking. Anonymity supports identity manipulation. however research suggests that this aspect of CMC may reduce inhibition. 1998). Anonymity may encourage risk-taking. The use of CMC further opens up new potentially beneficial forms of interaction that are not found in non-CMC classrooms.1 Potential advantages and limitations of interaction in text-based real-time CMC for language learners Potential limitations One channel text-only medium Potential advantages Presence of text supports monitoring and noticing.1. Social constraints reduced raising the possibility of anti-social behaviour. As may be observed in Table 3. Delays Disrupted turn adjacency probable and presence of multiple threads Absence of prosodic cues Reduced paralinguistic cues. the use of pseudonyms enables learners to engage in identity and language play in a low stress environment where social context cues are greatly reduced (Warner. Increased and higher quality target language output Learners are provided with additional time Learners can make use of scrolling Anxiety over pronunciation removed reducing stress and inhibition leading to enhanced motivation Opportunities to experiment.

This study draws attention to possible advantages of computer-based interaction.48 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology limitations. 444).3 and 3. The frequent use of cutting and pasting raised the possibility of the incorporation . Kelm observed (1992.2). In recent years. Experimental research conducted by Kelm (1992) explored the interaction of Portuguese language learners during open discussion tasks. p. The following discussion will provide a critical analysis of significant research on the use of various types of text-based synchronous CMC in CALL. with a view to establishing if current approaches to TBLT are maximizing the apparent potential of this particular medium of communication. The use of pseudonyms reduced anxiety leading to increased confidence and more candid expression. 3.4.2. However. CALL researchers have conducted learner-based studies in order to explore this potential. 1992. there have been only limited efforts to evaluate current research on the use of tasks in real-time CMC. Background information on the subjects and the key findings of the studies analysed in the following discussion are summarized in Tables 3. p. In their feedback the subjects reported that they appreciated the opportunities provided to contribute at their own pace. Kelm noted that the presence of text on-screen supported the identification of errors and this was frequently accompanied by self-correction. indicates that CMC represents a potentially valuable tool. 433) that participation increased across the whole group as the project progressed. This was reflected in the student-centred nature of the interaction where 92 per cent of all messages were produced by the subjects (Kelm. this discussion will focus on influential studies that are representative of developments in research as a whole. This study also identified a number of potential drawbacks. Analysis of Research on Learner Interaction in Types of Real-Time CMC Early studies on the use of tasks in LAN-based CMC Research on the use of tasks in CMC-based CALL first focused on communication tools run on local area networks (LANs) (see Table 3. to date. Due to space limitations.

Syntactic complexity of messages. The use of interaction to a higher degree pseudonyms appeared than would be the case in to reduce anxiety. 25-minute sessions over 2 semesters Analysis of student transcripts observation 49 Number and background of subjects Proficiency level Length of sessions and project duration Analysis technique(s) Key findings The interaction was highly Increased participation learner-centred and conducted from all members of the project group. degree of learner-centred The subjects (including inaction. Chun found that the number of entries made by the students ranged from 2. communicative competence.TBLT in Network-Based CALL Table 3. The in repairs and made extensive visual saliency of text use of discourse management facilitated the strategies associated with the identification of target development of language errors. with the subjects on occasion. High entirely in the target language. p. of incorrect forms. there was a tendency to avoid challenging vocabulary. The interaction was student-centred. A further possible limitation was that in the absence of active instructor guidance during the open discussion tasks.2 Key findings of studies on learner interaction in LAN-based CMC Researcher Task types utilized Features of learner interaction investigated Kelm (1992) Open-ended discussion tasks Quantity and characteristics of target language output in CMC 15 undergraduate learners Intermediate 15. engaged self-confidence. 14 first year students Beginner 14. 1994.8 (Chun. 1-hour sessions over a semester Researcher observation Analysis of transcripts and questionnaires Chun (1994) Open-ended discussion tasks Number and length of turns. 21). This study focused on open-ended discussion tasks. and was unusual as it represented one of the few studies to focus on lower level learners. Nature of student responses. many conventional classrooms. with 92% of all normally reticent learners) messages produced by actively managed their the subjects. encourage candid Subjects initiated and expression and enhance expanded on topics. An influential study by Chun (1994) investigated the LAN-based interaction of learners of German.8 to a high of 17. producing surprisingly lengthy and syntactically .

with jigsaw tasks eliciting the highest number of negotiations (accounting for 93% and 78% of total negotiations). 1994. 1994. Most messages were questions or responses made to other students rather than the teacher. 17). Blake noted that these findings confirm research by Pica. 27). The learners frequently made appropriate use of discourse management strategies associated with the development of communicative competence such as greetings and leave-takings. In another noteworthy finding. A total of four task types were administered and analysis revealed that negotiation occurred and was largely incidental in nature (Blake. Kanagy and Falodun (1993). Studies on the use of tasks in chat-based CMC Blake (2000) examined the interaction of Spanish learners in a longitudinal study that ran over two semesters. This research sought to investigate how variations in task type and treatment influence learner behaviour. by the second semester. In a further positive finding. apologies and expressions of agreement (Chun. Negotiation appeared to be task sensitive. These studies further suggest that open-ended tasks appear to provide a means to elicit beneficial forms of target language interaction. the interaction was conducted entirely in the target language. p. followed by decision-making. this study echoed findings reported by Kelm that established the viability of real-time CMC as a platform in CALL and identified advantages of the online medium. when a communication problem occurred during the tasks. the number of participants fell from 22 to 8. and the lack of a follow-up study left the potential of other task types unexplored. A striking finding was that the students actively managed their own interaction. Only one task type was administered. the students used strategies involved in the negotiation of meaning including clarification and confirmation checks (Chun. p. researchers explored interaction in newer types of CMC provided by web-based chat tools. 2000. Moreover. which claims that as jigsaw tasks require information exchange and focus on . 127). Although these issues limit generalizability. There were however a number of limitations in the study. The duration of the sessions was rather brief. p. Encouraged by these largely positive findings. and two-way and one-way information gap tasks.50 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology complex utterances.

The subjects frequently ignored linguistic errors.8 per cent to 0. 2002. Lee also noted some potential drawbacks of the CMC interaction. explored the interaction of another group of intermediate level learners of Spanish. the subjects actively managed their interaction. p. Intermediate level learners of Spanish participated in the project over the course of one semester. preferring instead to focus on meaning. a total of 298 communication strategies involved in the negotiation of meaning were identified (Lee. The most frequent were requests for meaning (20% of total strategies). In a positive finding. In an effort to follow up on her earlier study Lee (2002). 2000. Lee noted . In contrast to the findings reported by Kelm (1992). p. Analysis of the transcripts confirmed findings reported in her previous research. Although the subjects engaged in negotiation of meaning. p. comprehension checks (13%) and self-corrections (16%). there was little focus on form.133). A study conducted by Lee (2001) examined the use of openended discussion tasks in a chat room. p. A total of eight communication strategies were identified (Lee. 241). there was no evidence for the incorporation of incorrect forms (Blake. The most frequent of these were requests for help (63) followed by clarification requests (280). 280). There were also significant differences between the findings of this research and her earlier study. Furthermore.3 per cent of all turns. As in her previous research. followed by clarification (19%). accounting for a total of 3. The analysis showed that negotiation was infrequent. Lee administered open-ended discussion tasks. 238). 2001. In a finding that mirrored Blake’s study. Syntactic negotiations were rare.TBLT in Network-Based CALL 51 achieving a single outcome they are more likely to raise metalinguistic awareness and elicit more negotiation than other task types. Lee claimed that the real-time nature of the interaction and absence of many feedback cues led to avoidance strategies (Lee. The tasks were successful in eliciting negotiation of meaning focusing on new lexis. A positive feature of this study was that the subjects appeared aware of their errors and worked to correct them. These strategies facilitated the production of modified target language input and output. and focused heavily on unknown lexis. 2001. analysis revealed that these strategies focused on unknown lexis. The subjects claimed that they enjoyed the interaction and Blake observed a high degree of focus on task completion.

She speculated that this difference was due to the nature of the discussion tasks that were broad enough to encourage participation. Although negotiation of meaning occurred. 281). p. negotiation of form was infrequent. Lee claimed that the pressure to respond promptly during the real-time interaction contributed to the above findings. Darhower (2002) investigated the interaction of Spanish learners in four chat rooms. many responses were brief and contained no verbs (Lee. For example. 2002. As Kötter (2003. 2002. The subjects were able to establish states of intersubjectivity (Darhower. p. 2002.52 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology that although the number of participants was lower. The use of pseudonyms appeared to support enjoyment and risk-taking in the form of language play. p. she noted the presence of numerous errors in linguistic output. The subjects resorted to this strategy in an apparent effort to quickly overcome a communication problem and keep up with the interaction. 282). The analysis confirmed the presence of constructs proposed in sociocultural accounts of SLA. Darhower also reported some negative results. 259). the avoidance strategies identified by Lee (2001. were the definitions used in coding. p. Moreover. 2002. 2002) appeared in the data. The subjects engaged in instances of flaming and frequently went off-topic when the instructor was absent. These were accompanied by mother tongue or first language (L1) use. p. . the most prominent of which. The learners were requested to exchange opinions in open-ended discussion tasks. This study was also subject to a number of limitations. there is overlap between the definitions used for clarification checks and requests making these coding categories somewhat problematic. 256) and engaged in collaborative target language dialogue that supported in-depth discussion of the tasks (Darhower. p. 2002. 86). they made use of a higher total number of strategies than in her previous study (Lee.157) has pointed out. Errors in usage and spelling frequently went uncorrected. Lee also observed the emergence of adaptive strategies appropriate to the online environment such as the use of emoticons to signal feedback (Lee. The participants further made use of pseudonyms to experiment with new online identities. A number of negative findings were also identified. Echoing concerns expressed in her 2001 study.

Identity exploration led to enjoyment and risk-taking involving language play. decision-making. one and two-way information gap 50 undergraduate students (drawn from 2 classes) Intermediate One. Few syntactic negotiations occurred. TBLT in Network-Based CALL Analysis of transcripts informed Analysis of chat by psycholinguistic research transcripts Post-project attitude survey Observation Jigsaw tasks produced more negotiations than the other task types. 50-minute chat sessions Analysis of transcripts informed by Vygotskian sociocultural theory The subjects established and maintained intersubjectivity and engaged in collaborative dialogue focused on the tasks. Negotiations were infrequent mostly incidental in nature. Key findings The learners negotiated meaning focusing on lexis by utilizing strategies similar to those identified in her 2001 study.Table 3. 50-minute chat session per week over two semesters Lee (2001) Open-ended discussion 40 university students divided into 12 groups Intermediate One-hour session held weekly over a semester Lee (2002) Open-ended discussion 34 undergraduate learners from 2 classes Intermediate One weekly 50-minute session held over a semester Analysis of chat transcripts Darhower (2002) Open-ended discussion 33 undergraduate learners divided into 4 groups Intermediate Nine. Due to time pressures usage and spelling errors frequently uncorrected. Limited use of complex target language constructions.3 Key findings of studies on learner interaction in chat-based CMC Researcher Task types utilized Number and background of subjects Proficiency level Length of sessions and project duration Analysis technique(s) Blake (2000) Jigsaw. The subjects engaged in negotiation focusing on lexis. High degree of focus on task. and focused heavily on unknown lexis. 53 . Errors frequently ignored and avoidance strategies were observed. negotiation of form was infrequent. Instances of flaming. The most common strategies were requests and clarification checks. off-task discussion and L1 use occurred.

negotiation broadly focusing on low fillers and politeness. framing. Table 3. jigsaw tasks. p.54 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Fernández-García and Martínez-Arbelaiz (2002) examined the interaction of Spanish learners divided into four groups. Limited explicit appeals for evidence that task type assistance. Their third of all turns substitution. The Due to reduced visual above strategies were cues the subjects almost during negotiations however this did not more frequent than exclusively relied on result in other types. These researchers claimed that the negotiation structures were similar to those proposed for oral interaction (Varonis & Gass. scrolling. interaction.4). The most primarily on approximately one frequent were unknown lexis. The extensive communication breakdowns as the influences strategy use of L1 subjects utilized use with more strategy was identified. there where differences. in two chat sessions held 20 days apart (see Table 3. the tasks. 35-minute sessions sessions and held 20 days apart project duration Analysis technique (s) Key findings Analysis of transcripts Analysis of transcripts Analysis of transcripts Subjects engaged in Learners utilized 26 The subjects engaged frequent negotiation different strategies to in negotiation of of meaning maintain the meaning focusing accounting for interaction. . This study confirmed findings reported by Blake (2000) and Lee (2001. However. Highest use recorded in the incidence of decision-making negotiation in the tasks than in the decision-making tasks. There were extra time and signal delays between turns turn transitions.4 Researcher Key findings of studies on learner interaction in chat-based CMC Fernández-García & Martínez-Arbelaiz (2002) Smith (2003a) Smith (2003b) Task types utilized Number and background of subjects Open-ended discussion 28 undergraduates divided into 4 groups Jigsaw and decisionmaking 28 undergraduate learners Intermediate level 5. 30-minute sessions Proficiency level Not specified Length of 2. 286). 2002. followed the model frequency lexical These were used to proposed for oral items embedded in provide feedback. 1985). However. 30-minute sessions Jigsaw and decisionmaking 18 undergraduate learners Low & intermediate level 5. 2002) that openended discussion tasks facilitate negotiation of meaning focusing on lexis (Fernández-García & Martínez-Arbelaiz.

p. extensive L1 use was identified across all the subject groups. the participants had few other means to signal that non-understanding had occurred. Only one task type was investigated. 46–47) and they appeared to be of two main types. They were also an adaption to the online real-time nature of the interaction in text chat where messages are intermixed. The limitations of this study were also significant. Instead they utilized explicit statements of non-understanding and occasional appeals for assistance (Fernández-García & Martínez-Arbelaiz. 286).. p. 2002. pp. thirty-minute sessions. the subjects did not use a wide range of communication strategies. One type included strategies relating to general discourse maintenance. used as a means to supply feedback and provide extra time. This study was motivated by research (Pica et al. 2001. 2002). 290). ‘OK’) was used to signal turn transitions in an explicit manner in the absence of intonation. Moreover. The researchers speculated that this was caused by the online nature of the interaction where in the absence of paralinguistic cues. 2002. Lee. Research carried out by Smith (2003b) focused on the task-based interaction of 18 low and intermediate level English as a second language (ESL) learners during five. no information was given on proficiency levels and the duration of the sessions was limited. which claims that tasks that require information exchange (jigsaw tasks) will produce higher levels of negotiation and communication strategy use than tasks where such exchange is optional (decision-making tasks). 2002. Politeness was utilized to overcome the sensory limitations faced by users of CMC. 1993). A total of 26 strategies were identified (Smith. raising questions of the generalizability of the findings. The data showed that the subjects used a wider range of what Smith described as communication strategies than has been reported in previous research (Fernández-García & Martínez-Arbelaiz. 2003b. and the researchers noted that self-correction and the production of target language output was limited (FernándezGarcía & Martínez-Arbelaiz. In another less positive finding. The other type were . Framing (‘good’. Smith argued that these strategies were used in part because of the limited proficiency of the subjects. The most frequent were fillers (utterances such as ‘well’ and ‘actually’).TBLT in Network-Based CALL 55 in contrast to findings reported by Lee (2001).

as the subjects appeared to make use of scrolling. Moreover. Both of his studies were only conducted over a short period and therefore provide only limited support for his claim that decision-making tasks elicit higher levels of negotiation than jigsaw tasks. Despite these shortcomings. As has been indicated in other research (Fernández-García & Martínez-Arbelaiz. This was an interesting finding that contradicts Blake’s claim (2000) that due to their convergent nature. Smith speculated (Smith. Smith found that as in his previous study. Smith (2003a) investigated the use of the above task types with a larger subject group (28) in a study involving intermediate level ESL students conducted over the same period as his earlier research. 2003a. However. This study also revealed the influence of task-induced effects. the subjects engaged in negotiation of meaning in a manner similar to that reported for FTF interaction. These functioned in a manner broadly similar to that found in FTF interaction. However. Smith found that decision-making tasks elicited more instances of negotiation than the decision-making tasks. . the decisionmaking tasks elicited higher levels of negotiation than the jigsaw tasks. This finding contrasts with Blake’s (2000) research where negotiation was incidental and the number of negotiated turns was low. In a further interesting finding that contradicts a result reported by Blake (2000). 2002). jigsaw tasks would elicit more negotiation in CMC than other task types. Smith claimed (2003a. interaction focusing on the lexical items in the jigsaw tasks was not central to task completion.56 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology compensatory communication strategies utilized during negotiation of meaning focusing on new lexis. p. 47) that this finding was due to the absence of the paralinguistic cues that fulfil these functions in FTF communication. his research focused on only two task types. these delays did not result in communication failure. However. He observed that there were occasions when there were long delays during exchanges involving negotiation of new lexis. Smith’s research is subject to a number of limitations. p. that this was because in contrast to the decision-making tasks. the use of explicit expressions of non-understanding and closure were frequent. 46). he observed some differences. Negotiated turns focusing on low-frequency lexical items (that were embedded in the tasks) accounted for approximately one-third of the total turns produced.

their research produced contradictory findings. Blake claimed that jigsaw tasks produced the highest incidence of negotiation. These researchers showed that the anonymity afforded by CMC provides an effective means to facilitate learnercentred target language interaction. Lee.TBLT in Network-Based CALL 57 these studies suggest that implementation of tasks in CALL projects involving the use of real-time CMC supports collaborative interaction involving negotiation of meaning focusing on new lexis and the development of target language discourse management skills. 2003a. Research by Kelm (1992) and Chun (1994) confirms that this type of CMC represents a valuable tool in CALL. 2002. 2002. The studies conducted by Lee (2001. 2003b) have demonstrated that the use of tasks in CMC provides a means to promote beneficial types of interaction hypothesized in psycholinguistic and sociocultural SLA research. this research has been consistent in showing that the use of tasks in real-time CMC environments presents an effective means to elicit negotiation of meaning focusing on new lexis. Fernández-García and Martínez-Arbelaiz (2002). indicate that negotiation of meaning occurs during open-ended discussion tasks. However. the generalizability of their results is limited as they did not quantify the incidence of negotiation in detail nor investigate other task types. Taken as whole. 2002. Their studies provide evidence for enhanced participation. Although both Blake (2000) and Smith (2003a. Smith. Following on this early work. In contrast. Fernández-García & Martínez-Arbelaiz. 2001. Darhower. The evidence is less conclusive regarding the influence of task-induced effects on the frequency of negotiation. These findings show the need for further research that will clarify the precise . the other studies examined here (Blake. Conclusions and Directions for Future Research The studies analysed in this chapter have shown the potential of synchronous text-based CMC as a venue for TBLT. reduced anxiety and types of strategy use associated with language acquisition. 2000. 2003b) attempted to overcome these limitations by investigating additional task types. Smith’s studies found that decision-making tasks consistently produced the highest frequency of negotiation. 2002).

and the high degree of focus on task (Blake. While the studies reviewed here provide extensive evidence for negotiation of meaning there is little evidence for the focus on form that is hypothesized as necessary for SLA to occur (Skehan. in part. 2003a). 2006). the predominant approach represents the transfer of tasks developed for conventional language classrooms. Although these studies have produced contradictory findings. In the absence of teacher feedback. the role of the teacher remains vital in the design of tasks appropriate to the online medium that not only meet learner needs. is an approach to TBLT that takes account of the online medium and maximizes the specific affordances provided by CMC to both focus on meaning and form (Hampel. stimulate active participation in the learning process. the incorporation of incorrect forms remains a risk. What is needed.58 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology relationship between task-type and negotiation during interaction in real-time CMC. Additional areas for concern include the high frequency of errors (Lee. 2003). Lee. the use of transcripts presents valuable opportunities for learners to focus on form. The use of avoidance strategies such as L1 use has been noted in several studies (Fernández-García & MartínezArbelaiz. The analysis in this chapter has identified a number of potential limitations in current approaches to the use of tasks in CMC-based CALL projects. Moreover. The . 2002). the lack of evidence for focus on form highlights a major limitation of current approaches to TBLT in CMC. The main implication of these findings is that although participation in text chat apparently provides ample opportunities for the development of fluency there may be a trade-off in accuracy. be the result of the communication context provided by real-time CMC where learners must track turns and respond quickly when messages are scrolling rapidly (Lee. Smith. For example. but also. 2000. Future research on TBLT in CMC-based CALL is required in a number of areas. 2003a). In this context. they nonetheless demonstrate the collaborative nature of learner interaction in CMC. 2001) and the limited evidence for self-correction. 2002. A major limitation of this is the absence of real-time teacher feedback and the focus on form which is necessary for language development. 2001) and this may. Although there is a clear need to achieve a balance between meaning and form in tasks (Strambi & Bouvet.

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evaluates trends critically from a TBLT perspective to ascertain what contributions ICALL can make and has made to TBLT. (e) testing and (f) evaluation. the central goals and approaches of ICALL – a subfield of CALL which utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) techniques – will be described in broad strokes. . and how TBLT can and should inform and/or has informed research and development in ICALL. (d) methodology and pedagogy. Doughty and Long (2003. and evaluation of a genuinely task-based teaching program: (a) needs and means analysis. . (b) syllabus design.Chapter 4 Taking Intelligent CALL to Task Mathias Schulze Introduction The title of this chapter gives rise to a two-part question: What is Intelligent CALL (ICALL) and what does it have to do with task-based language teaching (TBLT)? I will address this main question and focus on a number of subordinate and related issues such as: What kind of ICALL projects have relied on a task-based design? How was this done? What kinds of task processes have been considered in ICALL systems? What contributions has TBLT made to ICALL. which ones could it make? Which contributions could ICALL make to TBLT? After a brief sketch of TBLT in the context of computer-assisted language learning (CALL). . p. 50) argue that: Task-Based Language Teaching . (c) material design. The main part of the chapter discusses a number of ICALL projects. constitutes a coherent. theoretically motivated approach to all six components of the design. implementation.

11). In this context. activity-focused definition in mind. 1998.g. Mwanza & Engeström. not producing specific language forms’ (Willis. This definition appears to be widely accepted (see e. p. 1996. p. 1996. 2001. Bygate. 143). p. 149). development. p. in which learners take an active role’ (Cameron. including pre-task (Willis. its context sensitivity. and its dependence on initial conditions. Skehan & Swain. implementation and evaluation (Colpaert. we see them as ‘a vital part of language teaching’ (Skehan. p. design. 346). a task is seen as a ‘goal-oriented communicative activity with a specific outcome. When it comes to identifying language-learning tasks in ICALL systems. 1997.64 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Arguably. With its multitude of interdependent and interacting variables. 39). however. p. They are frequently discussed from a purely computational. p. Of course. In such cases. in a review of research and development work in ICALL. linguistic or only marginally second language acquisition (SLA)-related empirical perspective. The process of task performance. Of course. 1996. 2003) and tasks in completely fictitious contexts (e. 2008). at least hypothetically. a task can also be described as the collaborative. social construction of knowledge (Edwards & Willis. when technology is used as one major mediating artefact in a language-learning . the ‘inner workings’ of such a system can best be described with complexity science (LarsenFreeman & Cameron. 1987. Doughty and Long’s claim for teaching programmes in general can be transferred to the analysis. 1998. is seen as an activity system (AS) (Engeström. 24). p. 42) and post-task activities (Skehan. Given our understanding of a learning process as an AS. where the emphasis is on exchanging meanings. 36). in a practical pedagogic context. in order to situate these. I will bear both Willis’ meaningfocused and Cameron’s broader. when it comes to the discussion of ICALL design. it is often difficult if not impossible to glean information about the teaching and learning contexts of individual systems. 2005). 2005. with a clear beginning and an end. a task is understood more broadly as a ‘classroom event that has coherence and unity. I will have to extrapolate from sometimes limited information.g. In contexts with a more practical focus. Skehan. 2006) of ICALL systems. but not as the sole unit of instruction and we accept both tasks which have some relevance for learners (Eckerth.

Taking Intelligent CALL to Task 65 activity. Natural language generation describes the reverse process. the information from a database on a country’s geography can be provided in adequate prose. AI describes ‘the science and engineering of making intelligent machines’ (McCarthy. Of the different research domains in user modelling. 2003. student modelling . grammatical. semantic and pragmatic features in a computational data structure. often a parser. if the relevant syntactic. For instance. For example. Nerbonne. 2008a). when a written sentence is submitted to a natural language understanding system. intelligent agents and computer vision. Natural language understanding takes written or spoken language input and turns it into a formal representation which captures the textual input’s phonological/ graphological. Within natural language processing. A formal representation. software that turns utterances into written text is subsumed under speech recognition or speech-to-text systems. the reverse process is called speech synthesis or text-to-speech. (3) expert systems and (4) intelligent tutoring systems. This includes work in robotics. (2) user modelling. semantic and pragmatic rules of certain utterance types and a lexicon are given. Most relevant to CALL is research in four branches of AI: (1) natural language processing. techniques. 2007. Intelligent CALL ICALL – Intelligent CALL – is a field within CALL which applies concepts. Schulze. 2007). Natural language processing deals with both natural language understanding and generation. Heift & Schulze. a tree describing the grammatical structure of this sentence with details about immediate dominance (phrase structure) and linear precedence (word order) could be the output. is rendered in written or spoken human language. algorithms and technologies from AI to CALL (Gamper & Knapp. 2002. it introduces a number of new facets that will have to be considered. User modelling can also be described as a sub-area of human-computer interaction (HCI) research – in addition to being an area of research in AI – because it strives to adapt computational systems to their users. which could have been stored in a database for example.

A student model ‘observes’ the student’s actions. and learning objects to the individual student. specialized and corpus-enriched learner dictionaries and reading aids for foreign language readers (Roosmaa & Prószéky. and fluency [Schulze. it is possible to adapt feedback messages. these are beyond the scope of this current chapter. forthcoming]) can act as general tools in language learning. 2009. which were documented in English and German publications between 1978 and 2004/5.66 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology is.g. maintains a data structure with this information and infers beliefs about the student’s knowledge based on these data. I will also refer to selected ICALL projects of recent . In this chapter. morphological. If an ICALL system comprises a student model. In other ICALL projects language-learning tools such as grammar or spell checkers for language learners (Gamon et al. pragmatic features). pp. Wood. syntactic features) and the meaning (semantic. Expert systems. ICALL is not only about computers as tutors. It is these areas of AI which are commonly applied in ICALL. instructional sequences. 2008). Such systems are tutors in the context of Levy’s (1997) tutor-tool distinction in CALL. on the other hand. Most ICALL software will have expert information about the grammatical system of the learnt language (a parser grammar). Pokorny. ICALL systems which support language instructors (e. discoursal. however. Rimrott & Heift. of particular relevance to CALL. They are used in the teaching of various instructional settings and for various subjects and domains. of course. capture relevant knowledge about a particular domain. measuring task complexity. However. in the semi-automatic generation of exercises) and researchers (e. I will mention and sketch some of these by selecting almost exclusively systems for written language input and output. 1998) have been developed. This representation can then in turn be used to maintain a more detailed record of the grammatical knowledge the learner applied and/or to be able to locate and describe linguistic errors made by the learner.g. Both the student model and the expert model are essential modules of intelligent tutoring systems. accuracy. 55–82) identified 119 ICALL projects. This is the module that enables the programme to process the student input and turn it into a formal representation that contains detailed information about the form (phonological/graphological. Heift and Schulze (2007.

In the mid1990s and after attending a conference on ICALL (Holland. . 2008a). ICALL must devote as much attention to its language learning/teaching principles as it does to its exciting technology. 2007. a strong connection of SLA in general and TBLT in particular with ICALL is still not immediately obvious. . 2009. 174) Oxford (1993) is correct in stating that ICALL research has all too often relied on homespun notions of language learning or borrowed from discourses in SLA. 1995). Schulze. (p. pp. Kaplan & Sams. The applied linguist Johnson (2003) identifies a list of characteristics of good task designers based on an observation study of experienced and less experienced creators of language-learning materials. He argues that . it is not surprising that many publications appeared outside the mainstream journals of CALL and very few in other journals of applied linguistics (for a literature survey. which had long been criticized severely and/or superseded by theoretical approaches with improved explanatory power (Schulze. in order to investigate the relationship of TBLT and ICALL. . Given the interdisciplinarity of ICALL. Although two more special issues on ICALL (Meurers. as you will see in the discussion of projects below. Task Design in ICALL Designing tasks for a computer environment means that general pedagogic and SLA principles as well as software engineering and HCI opportunities and constraints have to be considered. contained only outdated language learning and teaching references . Oxford (1993) summarized the mutual relationship of ICALL and SLA from an applied linguistics perspective: It was somewhat surprising to me to discover that most of the papers . many researchers in ICALL have shown considerable awareness of current discussions in SLA research and have been successful in applying relevant SLA research findings to ICALL. .Taking Intelligent CALL to Task 67 years. 2008b) appeared in CALL journals recently. see Heift & Schulze. 52–55). On the other hand.

about which they reason and then react accordingly. conclude that the text contains a certain error. designers of ICALL tasks need to be aware that in HCI learners act on their intentions. I would not describe this as social interaction in the Vygotskian sense. then the learner might interpret this as a grammar checking action. when interacting with the machine. development. a mouse click or a single key stroke. the object of the activity. but we will have to consider the HCIs (Shneiderman & Plaisant. and that it can be corrected in the suggested way. interpret these operations as an action and ascribe it an intention. in addition to the requirements of the pedagogic principles guiding the design of language tasks. increases the likelihood of a successful development outcome. 128–137). if a grammar checking algorithm of a computer programme parses the input string and generates a message of canned text (associated with the rule used for the successful parse). this may or may not be the case depending on the quality of the parsing algorithm and the coverage of the grammar. 2003. implementation and evaluation (for CALL. It is important to note at this stage that in ICALL the main interaction can take place between learner and machine. which often has to be repeated. which also has to go through a cycle of analysis. learners and context. create choices. The computer programme on the other hand performs certain operations which are obviously not intentional. Now. use a breadth-first strategy when considering design possibilities. identify procedures and highlight important decisions early on. Most computer users. but are triggered by conditions such as the reception of a string of characters. show maximum control of task variables. see Colpaert. Some of the procedural stages identified by him are reminiscent of the stages in iterative software development. pp. In both cases only a complete cycle. design. are sensitive to task logistics. For example. 2006). Using activity theory terminology. This means that ICALL systems. 2005) carefully in the context of learning processes. but it certainly was not the computer’s intention.68 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology among other traits good task designers spend time analysing the design problem they face by also carefully reviewing what is required of them. and stimulate input and output a lot (Johnson. at times design cyclically. also need to consider the .

Examples of TBLT in ICALL These design principles and considerations will become clearer once they are seen in relation to some concrete examples of ICALL systems. Many ICALL systems can be used as a trigger for a language-learning activity conducted through discussion or other communicative activities by a small group of students who all work with the same system. And of course. we will encounter programmes that set students a genuine task and provide the necessary scaffolding and support (see the section on communicative tasks in ICALL below).g. Essentially students conduct an activity mediated by computational artefacts that were created by a community of ICALL researchers and developers. to facilitate robust natural language processing. which the student can successfully interpret and act on accordingly. Thus. In other words. since processing qualitatively limited and hence more predictable input yields outcomes of higher quality. . Such tasks have a clearly identifiable language learning object. disambiguation and selection procedures). meaningful tasks in ICALL are not only one prerequisite for successful language learning. In the 30 years of ICALL to date. parser grammar and algorithm. which could be represented graphically or textually. ICALL activities are not only for the lone learner in front of a computer. Even in this HCI. learning is an ‘inherently socially situated activity’ (Storch. 153) in the Vygotskian sense. information of the expert system. processing more predictable input – the tasks restrict the vocabulary and the syntactic constructions the student can and will use – results in more precise and contingent feedback or a meaningful response in a dialogue system. p. implementation and employment. we have seen a rather heterogeneous set of projects – heterogeneous in almost every aspect of their design.Taking Intelligent CALL to Task 69 computational robustness of their systems and the linguistic validity of the underlying human language technology (e. In the following sections. but task design can also be used to restrict the linguistic domain. They are set in a relevant communicative situation and are sometimes situated in a virtual world (VW). the constructions necessary for task completion. 2005.

for instance. such as keyword searches and regular expressions were used to process sentences submitted by students. relatively simple text processing techniques. Facets of the learners’ interaction and task outcomes are easily recorded on a computer. In early CALL projects. 1976). the system recognizes certain keywords. Underwood’s (1984) programme. They facilitate and support task performance (see the section on during-task and post-task support below) by providing linguistic and knowledge resources. . Communicative Tasks in ICALL A number of ICALL projects focused on the development of communicative competence of language learners. so that the programme can maintain a detailed. Also during pre-task activities such as priming the students for a particular language task and reviewing task-relevant linguistic material.70 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology The latter are often dialogue systems. Other ICALL systems can only be used during certain phases of the task process. ICALL systems can be employed usefully (see section on pre-task activities). This model is a prerequisite for the system to be able to adapt automatically to individual learner differences and the individual learning process. in which the learner engages in a (written) second language (L2) discourse with the ‘intelligent’ machine. The entire lexicon as well as the sophisticated pattern-matching technique are geared towards the discussion of family relations. during a dialogue task. and searches for verb complement combinations that are erroneous in Spanish. resembles the ELIZA programme (see Weizenbaum. Students using machine translation software are supported in their translation or textual analysis tasks. This way a programme can keep the learner aware and informed about progress and the necessary next steps. FAMILIA. scaffolding and textual analysis tools as well as helping to increase the students’ language awareness. information-rich record of an individual’s learning processes and outcomes in a student model (see section on measuring task performance). In FAMILIA. in which the student interacts with the system. mainly family terms.

Hamburger and his team also developed an interface for teachers to create exercises which utilize the natural language processing tools of FLUENT-2. Spion offered the students a motivating. Although the linguistic input can be described as rich in the relevant scenario. require . embedding natural language processing technologies in CALL environments that provide a whole task scenario have meant that these systems have been able to provide students with a stimulating language-learning task. the recommended action will be performed by the screen character.Taking Intelligent CALL to Task 71 Other projects embedded the language-learning software with its tasks and technology in a virtual context and designed a genuine task environment. Another project. Students assume the role of the detective (Herr Kommissar) and formulate questions for the suspect during an interrogation. 1996). 1995). however. Robotky. is placed in Berlin and students have to give him advice in a variety of situations. The limited domain and the finite set of syntactic structures for questions result in adequate linguistic coverage for this engaging language game. FLUENT I (Hamburger & Hashim. the language tool to influence the language generated by FLUENT-2 and the drawing tool to manipulate the graphical microworlds (Schoelles & Hamburger. Spion (Sanders & Sanders. If students respond in a complete and well-formed sentence. both written and spoken. Its main character. As can be seen from these examples. Herr Kommissar (DeSmedt. also relies on a crime story scenario to engage students of German in a written exchange and uses natural language processing. They are able to check input utterances for their semantic truth value by comparing what the student said to what is actually displayed in the graphic representation of the market scene. 1992) asks students to move objects in a bathroom per request. Menzel and Schröder (1999) have their students communicate about a market place scenario that is represented graphically. 1995). fun and communicative task which used familiar traits from computer games of the time. it has usually meant that the system could function adequately although it was based on a small (but contextually relevant) dictionary and a fragment of the L2 grammar. The teacher can use the tutorial schema tool to design interactive exercises. for instance. Such programmes. was a spy game for students of German.

for machine translation. maintaining and supporting ICALL software from within a university system often prevented their widespread use by other language instructors and students. In addition to the utilitarian value of introducing university students of a foreign language to state-of-the-art translation tools and aids. however. Such difficulties arose because the often-monolithic programmes were tailored to a particular group of students or a very specific language-learning situation and/or components such as the interface or the human language technology lacked the robustness necessary for a straightforward implementation in another educational setting. such editing activities increase the language awareness of learners and facilitate their noticing of structural . 90). regarding its usefulness for teaching Hebrew and concludes ‘that MT [machine translation] with a properly constructed and applied learning algorithm can definitely be used to enhance language learning’ (p. This is often coupled with a short life span of such software since the transfer to other computer environments and teaching contexts can be fraught with difficulties. Targumatik. marketing. is more cautious and warns that ‘MT software is generally not designed with language learners in mind. a specialist in machine translation. a number of projects re-used parsers and grammars that had been developed for different purposes and with different goals in mind. that TBLT in ICALL can be done (at a cost) and high-quality task designs are a fruitful avenue of further research and development in ICALL. for example.72 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology a huge development effort and considerable time. Somers (2001). Similar to a comparison of various translations of varying quality (which could also come from different machine translation systems and/or human translators). Given the cost of development in ICALL. he sees a role for machine translation software in task settings in which learners are asked to pre-edit source texts iteratively to make a subsequent automatic translation more successful or to post-edit texts translated into their L1 and to comment on the L2 constructions which were necessary to edit. 28). These and other research prototypes clearly show. so one should be a little wary of using it for this purpose’ (p. Many such ICALL programmes were developed as part of a research or a dissertation project and thus were dependent on the project’s funding and other resources. Anderson (1995) evaluates a machine translation system. Difficulties with distributing.

concludes from her quasi-experimental study with students of Spanish in England. however. On the other hand. highly questionable. Somers is correct in assuming that a machine translation into the students’ L1 is preferable in a language-learning task because the task difficulty of analysing or editing a machine-translated text can be and often is enormous. . inadequacies and infelicities. or similar activities.) is controversial because he sees the danger of ‘reinforcing or even introducing incorrect language habits on the part of the learner’ (ibid. error-free source text in their L2 and a machine-translated L1 target text full of errors. error detection and diagnosis resulting in corrective feedback have been the main focus of ICALL . but might not always do so in the most appropriate way (Williams. then the likelihood of an appropriate and successful task design is much greater if students are working with a comprehensible. error analysis and correction. He warns. language awareness. However. If it is really just the goal of such a task to increase students’ awareness of the two overlapping and diverging language systems and sets of linguistic conventions. that her ‘results advocate that for advanced students . 2006). of course. machine translation has a role to play because it facilitates language learning and increases students’ awareness of and familiarity with modern language technologies which many of them use anyway. That a foreign language is learned through habit formation and directly influenced by erroneous input is. 44). . When it comes to task designs which involve translation. the target language MT post-editing was especially good for creating opportunities for producing comprehensible and acceptable output and for raising language awareness through error detection and correction’ (p. During-Task and Post-Task Support With regard to during-task support.Taking Intelligent CALL to Task 73 alignments and misalignments of L1 and L2. text critiquing and commenting. who also provides a comprehensive overview of projects which discussed and investigated the use of machine translation in L2 learning. that the approach ‘to use MT’s weaknesses and mistakes to bring out subtle aspects of language differences or to reinforce learners’ appreciation of both L1 and L2 grammar and style’ (ibid. Niño (2008).).

the system re-uses proven. After their research and development projects were completed. there are ICALL projects which support writing activities. In a number of systems. In addition to the systems that support foreign-language learners in their reading tasks. the GLOSSER RuG system provides students with access to a morphological analyser and an online dictionary. ICALL has made great strides towards the successful integration of language engineering resources in CALL. both systems. This ICALL tool supports reading and vocabulary acquisition for students of German through the automatic annotation and lemmatization of texts selected by the students or their instructor. Students have one-click access to an online dictionary in which the lemma of the word in context will be looked up. students have contextualized access to online dictionaries. reliable and robust human language resources which are freely available. can retrieve further collocations of the word from a German corpus. inflectional paradigms of words are generated on the fly and can be displayed for the student. and have direct access to the German version of Wikipedia to look up proper nouns and concepts. Due to the fact that ELDIT relied on manual annotation for some more complex features in the reading texts. For example. ELDIT and Glosser RuG.74 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology and thus form the backbone of the language help which is provided by such systems. usually through the provision of feedback on erroneous . Thus. Students can extract morpho-syntactic information on any word from a reading text chosen by the learner or the instructor and thus support language students’ reading of a foreign-language text. appear to be frozen in time. More recently. an electronic learner dictionary for German and Italian intended for reading activities and vocabulary acquisition. Wood (2009) developed QuickAssist as part of his doctoral dissertation project. are provided with a morphological deconstruction of the word and the whole paradigm of relevant word forms. its material was not easily scalable. The system supports a number of reading tasks which aim to prepare students for bilingual proficiency examinations. Glosser RuG was clearly designed as a research prototype to prove the usefulness of natural language processing resources in CALL – which it did very successfully – however its use by language learners appeared to be limited. Knapp (2004) describes ELDIT.

a system for learning written English as an L2 for students with American Sign Language as L1. well known in language teaching. Third. 2008).Taking Intelligent CALL to Task 75 constructions. and view the results. Amaral et al. to notice errors and gaps or simply selected lexical. they are required to re-order automatically scrambled sentences or to fill in automatically created and evaluated blanks. In a second step. Sentences containing problems are highlighted in colors corresponding to the type of error and canned one-sentence explanations of the error can be accessed’ (ICICLE. It is particularly the provision of additional linguistic information and the increased saliency of constructions with certain features where ICALL can provide support in a variety of different task settings. productive presentation and controlled practice. of course. what is new here is the automatic preparation of the text. The system mainly supports post-task reflection on the written text: ‘The interface allows the user to type in or load a text file. Metcalf & Meurers. for example by clicking on them. These little activities are. morphological or syntactic phenomena. which means that a learner can freely choose a text for these activities because it will be submitted to a robust linguistic analysis. Such support with proof-reading learner texts can be offered in different phases of the task process – during the main task and for post-task activities – to encourage students to reflect on their own writing. so that students notice them more easily (receptive presentation). On the basis of an automatic annotation of the text in question through part-of-speech tagging and shallow parsing. request an analysis. Both . McCoy and her colleagues (Michaud & McCoy. 2006). the system colour-codes relevant linguistic constructions and makes them more salient. Scaffolding – the provision of assistance that enables learners to reach communicative goals they would have not reached otherwise – and input enhancement – often extra-linguistic features that enable the learner to comprehend the input better – were shown to have a positive influence on language acquisition success. Natural language processing is well suited to preparing texts for such reflective activities automatically (Amaral. 2006) developed ICICLE. (2006) argue for a task design for ICALL systems which incorporates a sequence of receptive presentation. learners are asked to identify the same constructions in context.

Pre-task activities fall into two broad categories: (1) linguistic priming and review and (2) pre-task planning activities. 94–95). are contained in the web-based learning environment. audio and cultural information. a number of language learning resources. For Japanese. practice. However. and provides learning content for three semesters of university German. 2001) accepts input from a variety of beginner to intermediate exercises for German and provides error diagnosis and feedback. if the form-focused exercises are relevant and subordinate to the task at hand. 2002). Robo-Sensei analyses student input . p. produce (PPP) (see Skehan. 42) suggests. but is hardly suitable to the latter. developed by Nagata (2009). The task still needs to be central and emphasis is on cognitive processes and not skilloriented training (see Bruton. there is one commercial web-based system. The system consists of fifteen chapters with a variety of learner activities. this sequence is supporting student learning.76 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology processes are normally carried out with linguistically well-formed texts as (computational) input for the natural language processing analysis and can thus rely on a more consistent. Pre-Task Activities As Willis (1996. The embedding of these form-oriented practice activities as pre-task activities in a task-based design is supported by the system which provides instructions for a variety of tasks and is based on the decision of individual instructors when using the E-Tutor with their students. RoboSensei. pp. Its systems can be used to introduce or review task-relevant grammatical constructions and semantic fields. tasks can be preceded by pre-task activities. ICALL plays a role in the former. 1998. I would not deny that the sequence of pre-task activities with language practice exercises followed by the main communicative task is reminiscent of the so-called 3Ps approach to language teaching methodology – present. reliable analysis outcome than in the traditional ICALL domain of error correction. including pictures. Some ICALL systems in use concentrate on feedback on and help with morpho-syntactic errors made by learners: The E-Tutor (Heift & Nicholson. covers the main grammar concepts of German. In addition to the grammar and vocabulary practice.

and has been developed by Amaral and Meurers (2008). uses the metaphor of an electronic textbook. Fujiwara. Other ICALL developments focus on one or more specific grammatical constructions. Bailin (1990). and parses the sentential input syntactically using a context free grammar. students have to insert the inflected forms into blanks using auxiliaries and inflectional suffixes appropriately. The version currently released works for the constructions and the lexicon required by the associated textbook. Examples of ICALL systems whose natural language understanding capabilities are employed to focus students’ attention on particular constructions include a programme which helps learners to practice zero pronouns in Japanese (Yamura-Takei. Students choose certain concepts and ideas and answer questions posed by the system. Feedback is contextualized through the information of a student model that contains performance information of individual learners and an instructor model that contains information about activity and error types. Such an activity with its pure focus on form can only be used in a pre-task activity. 1992) were French clitics. Yoshie & Aizawa. the system generates the French sentence with the appropriate clitics. performs an itemization (separating tokens for later linguistic analysis). Such an activity can be easily pictured as a pre-task activity of a task that requires the written use of clitics. . How a successful balance of focus on meaning and focus on form can be achieved has been shown in the SWIM (See What I Mean) project. The centre of attention for Zock and his colleagues (Zock. Depending on their answers. in his VERBCON project concentrates only on analysing English verbs. A system for Portuguese – Tagarela – which is similar to the E-Tutor and Robo-Sensei. for example. syntactic and semantic errors. thus making students aware of the positioning and formation of anaphoric references in a French sentence. Given the base form of the verb. 2009). The system provides re-writing exercises. A web-based version with its own Japanese textbook is in preparation and is able to analyse all grammatical structures taught in the first two years of Japanese instruction (Nagata. morphological. performs a morphological analysis. vocabulary practice and listening comprehension for which students receive feedback on spelling.Taking Intelligent CALL to Task 77 for selected exercises.

It is simply not very efficient to build a relatively complex ICALL system that can then only be incorporated in the preparatory phase of a specific task design. with their very specific focus on a particular set of forms. has been under development since the early 1990s. 1987). French and English (Cerri. The effectiveness of such systems in the pre-task activities. 2004) – CALL . Although none of these systems was developed based on a TBLT design. in which the students are introduced to. they would lend themselves to an integration in the preparatory phase of a task process. such systems are usually very robust in their linguistic analysis or felicitous in their generation. Daelemans & Kempen.78 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology 2002). which checks the conjugation of Dutch verbs for morphotactic errors. Systems such as E-Tutor and Robo-Sensei with a wider coverage of parser and grammar as well as a substantial set of different exercise types such as build-a-sentence. are the only intelligent language tutors which have been and still are in use by a large number of students over a number of years. however. Nagata’s software. of which the checking or practice activity is only one small part. Future Avenues for TBLT-ICALL During the 30 years of its existence. task-relevant construction. ICALL has become a major impetus for tutorial CALL (Hubbard & Bradin-Siskin. the TDTDT project (Pijls. fill-in-the-blank. can only be determined if one has information about the particular learning environment and communicative learning task. and the ALICE system which specializes in the analysis of temporal conjunctions in Italian. for example. Such systems with larger coverage and sufficient instructional material are very costly in terms of time and effort. sensitized for. 1989). High development costs and issues of portability and technology transfer have meant that systems which concentrate on specific linguistic phenomena and only function within a certain set of exercises often remain at the research prototype stage. or simply review a particular. Given their very limited domain. dictation. while Heift has been working on her system since the mid-90s. and translation and which are linked to one or more course curricula and textbooks.

even if some of them have just been proofof-concept systems. a well-defined task design with its clear set of relevant language constructions facilitates the restriction to a linguistic domain which is ‘manageable’ for a system’s natural language processing modules. W. Metcalf. Language awareness through re-use of NLP technology. operationalized instructional environment. A turn towards more applied research questions in computational linguistics (ten Hacken.. 2003) and a sustained interest in CALL in both modern language technology and tutorial CALL coupled with the improved availability of robust linguistic and computational resources for natural language processing should mean that this positive trend will continue. And the benefits are mutual as successful ICALL projects have profited from a well-motivated task design in two main ways. from a computational perspective. & Meurers. Computer Assisted Language Learning. Amaral.. (2006). 21(4). also indicate strongly that ICALL has added and will continue to add innovative and interesting facets to TBLT through its challenging task designs and even more so through its capability to analyse student input and observe and support student behaviour during task processing. W.Taking Intelligent CALL to Task 79 in a structured. D. V. L. References Amaral. successful projects from the last 30 years of ICALL show that it is possible to reproduce the positive impact of TBLT in student classroom interactions with an intelligent computer as tool and/or tutor. 323–338. However. This is mainly due to the immense complexities of the computational processing of human language and of the nature of language itself coupled with the complexity of foreign language learning processes. it can facilitate successful task completion and thus support language learning. L. & Meurers. (2008). Secondly. When such a system uses or is embedded in an appropriate tasks design. the examples. As could be seen from the examples given in this chapter. First. progress in terms of widespread and sustained use of ICALL applications in real language-learning situations has been slow and sketchy. D. Paper presented at the Pre-conference Workshop on NLP in . From recording linguistic competence to supporting inferences about language acquisition in context..

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communication tasks featuring technology are starting to appear in the literature (e. 1997). including speaking. 2008).g. 2009). writing. CMC tasks provide not only a means through which learners may engage in authentic interaction with others. communication tasks have to a large degree become synonymous with computer-mediated communication (CMC). our understanding of the effect of the technology on the tasks remains relatively limited. In recent years. but also a method where learner output can be monitored easily and relatively non-intrusively by teachers and researchers alike (Levy & Stockwell. Lamy & Hampel. The role of this . grammar and vocabulary (Stockwell. such as the effect of task complexity on learner interaction (Kim.Chapter 5 Effects of Multimodality in ComputerMediated Communication Tasks Glenn Stockwell Introduction Research in the field of task-based language teaching (TBLT) is extremely varied. 2007). 2007). task type and noticing of syntactical features (Song & Suh. Despite the attention that TBLT has started to attract (Samuda & Bygate. and researchers have focused their attention on a range of different aspects. There is no doubt that technology can and does indeed make a difference to language learning environments (Levy. 2006). These studies are also varied in their focus and approach. but what this difference is with regard to TBLT – particularly in communication tasks that occur through technology – is an area much in need of further investigation. 2008). With improved accessibility to technologies that allow communication to occur between learners and teachers regardless of distance or time. and examine virtually all language skills and areas.

for example. 1998). learners are able to consult other resources such as grammar references or dictionaries during the reading and composing of their responses.or audio conferencing. this volume). and thus has been referred to as ‘delayed synchronous’ (Hoven. while asynchronous CMC (ACMC) refers to communication where participants do not need to be online at the same time. Time pressure thus gives learners less time to focus on form (see Peterson.84 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology chapter. Most textual forms of SCMC. SCMC includes chat. and can read and respond to messages in their own time. depending on the type of ACMC. and this often results in less complex and less accurate output (Skehan. Delayed SCMC obviously places a smaller time burden on the learners in responding than audio. Similarly. however. that the distinction between synchronous and asynchronous modes of communication is not necessarily as clear cut as it may at first seem. 2004). and mailing lists. expectations of response . bulletin board systems and blogs. Synchronicity in CMC Synchronous CMC (SCMC) refers to situations where participants involved in the communication are online at the same time and communication takes place virtually in real-time. Different modes of CMC place different time burdens on the participants. ACMC allows a greater amount of time for learners to read and compose messages.and video-conferencing. and because there is no requirement to send an immediate response. audio conferencing and videoconferencing. and to provide a discussion of the effects of these modes and how they may be used both independently and in conjunction with one another in designing and implementing technology-based tasks. This type of SCMC has an extra buffer before sending the message when compared to video. MOOs. then. allow some degree of editing before messages are sent to the interlocutor. while ACMC includes email. It should be noted. SCMC is generally considered to place a greater load on learners in that they have less time to react and respond to input. is to give a deeper insight into the use of multiple modes of CMC-based communication tasks founded on empirical data.

Multimodality remains. While this is still considered relatively new in computer-mediated contexts. such as through chat. It may be quite normal to take as much as a few days to respond to messages on a bulletin board or even through desktop computer-based email. a rather underdeveloped theoretical area (Jewitt. and that in addition to the words it is also possible to perceive meaning from posture. 2000. argues that all face-to-face (FTF) interactions are multimodal. Learners of a lower proficiency may find CMC modes that allow some time for processing such as delayed synchronous or asynchronous tools less daunting. with the term being used quite broadly within CALL research . There has been a recent interest in the concept of multimodality. the concept of using multiple modes of communication is well established. Kress & van Leeuwen. and there are to date very few examples of research which seeks to explore the effects of using more than one CMC mode. but it is gaining momentum in technological contexts. gesture and body movement. however. particularly those with less experience in using CMC both for language learning and general uses. CMC in language-learning contexts most commonly occurs through a single mode of communication. where a response may be expected in a few hours or even a few minutes. 2004. Norris (2004). where participants are able to interact using more than one form of communication (Hampel & Hauck. In many cases we are not even aware of the different modes or how we interpret the variety of messages that we receive in order to construct the meaning of a communication act. Selection of the appropriate mode for language learning environments will depend largely on the ability of the learners. for example. 2006). Multimodality As stated above. email or audio-conferencing.Effects of Multimodality in CMC Tasks 85 speed may vary greatly. but this expectation may be much shorter in the case of mobile phone-based email or text-messaging. 2009). 2001). Kress. facial expression and so forth. and there is evidence to suggest that learners need to achieve a certain level of language proficiency to deal with synchronous communication (Levy & Stockwell.

however. the learners may be required to use only text-chat in order to accomplish this. At the task level. In computer-based language learning environments. or of course. It is important to note.86 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology (e. text and audio. they may be given the option to use two more modes of CMC in order to do this. audio and graphics.g. In this case. multiple modes may be adopted in order to accomplish a specific task. and CALL practitioners have the responsibility of choosing whether to use text only. or any combination of what is available in order to achieve their pedagogical goals. Collentine. for example. The modes that are used may be completely synchronous. a combination of the two. learners may be required to write an online newspaper article. but are required to use a specific mode in order to accomplish each task. learners no longer have the option of choosing a particular mode of CMC in order to complete the assigned tasks. Multimodality can be incorporated in two different ways: at the task or curriculum level. completely asynchronous. sound-effects. Within the same curriculum. Each of these ways carries with it different pedagogical implications. This is not surprising given that the development of new technologies means that it is quite easy to have images. such as a computer or other device like a mobile phone. however. an information-gap task such as the one mentioned earlier. if learners are required to complete an information-gap task. and sufficient consideration must be given to the range of factors involved. about which they must communicate only through email. This might include. They may be able to communicate with one another through audioconferencing at the same time as accessing text chat. As Ligorio (2001) suggests. the use of multiple modes has the potential to affect the ways in which learners engage in learning activities. but in this case. so it is natural that different modes will also have varying losses and gains. Hampel & Hauck. and this may allow learners to choose what is comfortable for them in order to exchange information. 2009. as Kress (2003) argues. For example. and text all together in a single space. different learners prefer different . that communication through technology brings with it a range of semiotic losses and gains. At the curriculum level. 2004). learners may be assigned different tasks with each requiring a different mode of CMC.

Effects of Multimodality in CMC Tasks 87 modes. Other definitions. with emphasis on meaning. is the potential to confuse learners when information is presented through different channels. Prabhu (1987) and Carroll (1993). how multiple modes of CMC are used can have significant pedagogical implications in terms of how communication takes place (or is avoided). describing it as ‘an activity which requires learners to use language. 285) cites examples where learners opted for the use of emoticons to express a meaning rather than text. however. Coupled with this is the danger that learners may avoid linguistic communication in favour of non-linguistic means such as symbols. p. Bygate et al. which are designed to guide learners towards specified objectives within the larger goal of facilitating language learning. (2001) provide a working definition of a task based on these multiple views. such as the use of a happy face ‘ ’ to confirm agreement and a sad face ‘ ’ to indicate incomprehensibility. however. ‘activities’ or ‘exercises’. the definition has evolved quite dramatically over this time. and how the use of different modes can have an effect on the way in which the task is approached and completed. 11). On the downside. confusion or dislike of an idea. They point out that many definitions. thus having multiple modes within a single task allows learners to choose according to their own specific needs and preferences. Combining this range of perspectives. pictures or other non-verbal cues should other alternatives be available. Skehan and Swain (2001) argue. especially as those learners who are less familiar with technology might find this overwhelming. As Bygate. such as those by Crookes (1986). describe tasks as ‘pieces of work’. 1989) or that the target language should be used for a communicative purpose (Willis. and teachers will need to bear in mind exactly what is to be achieved in implementing a specific task. As the example above demonstrates. to attain an objective’ (p. Tasks can be open or . 1996). Multimodality and CMC-Based Learning Tasks There has been a great deal of discussion over the last two decades in an attempt to define tasks. argue that the focus should be more on meaning than on form (Nunan. Lee (2002.

where Japanese learners of English were required to complete information-gap tasks using email either on mobile phones or desktop computers. research has . and often include discussions of prescribed topics with no fixed outcome or responses. but that learners produced slightly more language through the text chat compared to the email assignments. where open tasks have no predetermined outcome. who describes learners of Japanese in the United States who were required to make travel plans through discussions with other students using email. and email discussions with native speakers of English by EFL students in Hong Kong on topics decided by the students in class (Greenfield. As described in the previous section. Another study by Abrams (2003) found that learners who were engaged in open communication tasks through synchronous text chat and asynchronous BBS (bulletin boards systems) were more likely to produce significantly more language in the chat than the BBS postings.88 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology closed (see Ellis. Closed tasks have received even less attention. One exception is a study by Pérez (2003). 89–91). 2003. such as in a debate or general discussion. no topics were decided in advance) of Australian students of Italian with Italian native speakers (Tudini. pp. studies that investigate the use of more than one form of CMC have to date remained relatively limited. however. While the aspects being investigated have varied greatly. who examined Spanish learners’ output in both synchronous interactions (text chat) and in asynchronous interactions (email assignments) to determine learner preferences between ACMC and SCMC. In saying this. 2003). and one example is a study by Kitade (2006). Thus. 2003). Examples include free chat sessions (i. there have been suggestions that providing multiple modes of CMC may be beneficial to learners (Hampel. with one of the few studies being conducted by Kiernan and Aizawa (2004). 2003). and closed tasks require students to find a solution from a finite number of choices.e. tasks described in CMC research most commonly fit into the category of open tasks. She found that there were no significant differences in either aspect. as well as which was more effective in facilitating usage of new vocabulary. CMC-based open tasks with more specific outcomes are far less common in the CMC literature.

1996). Similar results were found by Hwang (2008) in her study of Korean English as a foreign language (EFL) learners engaged in synchronous textchat and an asynchronous bulletin board. whereas learners involved in ACMC produced language with fewer malformed sentences or errors in spelling and punctuation (although these errors were still present in the ACMC interactions). She found that learners engaged in SCMC interactions produced language that was more meaning-focused but with lower accuracy. we still have little evidence of the qualitative effect of the mode on the language produced by individual language learners engaged in communication tasks. While the language in SCMC has been shown to approach that of oral interaction (e. but that ACMC is generally more syntactically accurate. in favour of SCMC. ACMC is generally considered as being more like other forms of written communication such as a personal letter. are those by Sotillo (2000) and Hwang (2008). possibly resulting in output that is more syntactically well-formed. which is what this study sought to identify. The cause of these differences may be found in part in the expected norms for SCMC interactions when compared with ACMC. The only studies that look specifically at learner output.g.Effects of Multimodality in CMC Tasks 89 suggested that there is a slight quantitative difference between SCMC and ACMC. Another likely reason is the point raised above that greater time pressure gives less time to attend to the accuracy and complexity of the language they produce. In contrast. however. resulting in less accurate output. Research on qualitative differences was undertaken by Sotillo (2000) in her study of English as a second language (ESL) learners using synchronous text chat and asynchronous BBS for discussions. These comparative studies suggest that SCMC is more likely to lead to a greater amount of output than ACMC. but both look at two different groups of learners where one uses SCMC and the other ACMC. ˇ Condon & Cech. . where the accepted practice is to write more formally. it also tends to be more fragmented and contains abbreviations and emoticons which are not generally present in other written forms of communication. Thus. making it difficult to identify if the differences were due to the mode of communication or simply the learners themselves.

2001). The following research questions were posed: 1. How do interactions in tasks carried out in SCMC and ACMC compare in terms of syntactic complexity and accuracy (c. and the communication tasks used in the semester included SCMC (in-class chat discussions) and ACMC (BBS-type discussion forums). Topics taught in the semester included group pressure. What other features are there in the discourse when completing tasks through SCMC and ACMC? Method The participants were 24 advanced learners of English at a Japanese university. The subject was an elective course taken in the students’ second year. in which various social issues were taught in English. and the discourse features used. Both the synchronous and asynchronous tasks required learners to actively use the target language in order to achieve specific objectives. while the ACMC task required students to work together to plan and prepare short presentations that were to be given periodically throughout the semester. 2000)? 3..90 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Purpose of the Current Study The current study provides an example of multimodal CMC where the language produced by learners during SCMC and ACMC communication tasks is examined in terms of lexical density. tasks were defined as activities requiring learners to achieve an objective (Bygate et al. How do interactions in tasks carried out in SCMC and ACMC compare in terms of lexical density and spelling accuracy? 2. controlling crime and .f. The SCMC task required learners to collaboratively write a short article about the topic assigned each week that was to be posted on the class website. Sotillo. grammatical accuracy and complexity. the influence of the media.. Advanced learners of English participated in communication tasks in SCMC (in-class text chat discussions) and ACMC (BBS-type discussion forums) over the course of a semester. balancing home and work. In the context of the current study.

Chat sessions took place with all the students in a single group together with the teacher as facilitator of the discussion. For the forums. while the forums continued for three to four weeks on the theme that was selected for the presentation during class. A typical chat topic was ‘How men and women are represented differently in the Japanese media’. data were collected over a five-year period. from 2005 through to 2009. and the discussions mainly focused on exchanges of opinions of what should and should not be included in the presentation. Two classes were held per week and while both were based primarily around the textbook. Students worked together to plan and prepare five-minute presentations that were to be given four times during the semester.1. one class per week included a chat session for around 20 minutes. In addition to this. learners were also required to write a forum posting at least once a week. Time was spent in class demonstrating and practicing both chat and forums at the beginning of the semester. while one of the presentation topics discussed in the forum was ‘Difficulties faced by . and it was suggested to students that they spend no more than 20 minutes on each forum posting. As the number of students in each class was quite small. Topics were posted on a class wiki and made available via Moodle pages at the conclusion of the discussion. Both chat and forums occurred through Moodle.Effects of Multimodality in CMC Tasks Table 5.1 Year Students 91 Students participating in the classes according to year 2005 3 2006 3 2007 7 2008 4 2009 7 TOTAL 24 cultural change. In collaboration with group members the objective of the chat tasks was to write a short article of around 250–300 words about the weekly topic. and students were given a mark for the forums if they made a significant contribution to the discussion. as shown in Table 5. The content of the chat sessions varied depending on the content of discussion of the classes for that week. while at the same time messages were sent out to each student’s email address. students posted messages to the Moodle site where online records were kept. Chats were not assessed independently from the normal class participation mark.

utilizing the mean length of c-units and the percentage of error-free c-units.91.92 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology boys and girls at school’. Results Before looking specifically at the features described in the research questions above. Table 5. Only the chat sessions and forum postings from the second week through to the seventh week were included in the study as some students were absent for other classes. On completion of the analysis. Note that while c-units have received some criticism regarding their sensitivity (see Collentine. this volume).2 shows that . and at spelling accuracy. Discourse features were investigated holistically by examining each of the interactions to identify if there were any specific features that might distinguish each of the modes of CMC communication that occurred while undertaking the tasks. given the fact that the c-unit also includes ‘non-clausal structures which have communicative value’ (Johnson & Johnson. Syntax was measured in terms of complexity and accuracy. because they were largely based on the materials covered in the textbook. attaining a reliability of r = 0. C-units were used as the unit of measurement of syntax rather than the more commonly used t-unit. This was approached without any pre-conceived ideas as to what type of results would be achieved. Even though the topics were not the same in the chat and the forums. and hence may be a more accurate measure of the type of language used in chat. syntax and to identify any specific feature of the discourse. The objective of the study was to investigate vocabulary. Vocabulary was examined by looking at the range of vocabulary used (lexical density) in relation to type-token ratios (TTRs). and trends found while analysing the data were noted and later followed up with a more thorough examination. the results of an examination of the data in terms of the total amount of language produced by learners in the chat sessions and forum postings are presented. p. it was felt that they were sufficient for comparative purposes within the context of the study. there were times when there was some overlap between them. 1999. 10 per cent of the data were reanalysed by an experienced English native speaker. 360).

0 128. In chat. Moodle logs were consulted to determine how long students took to write the forum postings so that they could be compared against the chat data.2 151.8 151.2 79.Effects of Multimodality in CMC Tasks Table 5.8 93 the amount of language produced in each CMC mode varied slightly. The overall means for the TTR measures for the chat and forum sessions were the same at 0.8 105. that there was a greater variety in the amount of language produced by each student in the chat sessions.1 92. and many students wrote very small amounts in the chat while others wrote substantially more.9 106. Spelling was generally very accurate during both the chat and forumbased tasks. with a marginally higher amount being produced in the chat-based tasks (128. The errors in the .2 114.0 125.4.2 Mean number of words per chat session/forum post Chat Week Number 1 Number 2 Number 3 Number 4 Number 5 Number 6 Overall M 90.9 words) when compared to the forum-based ones (121. as can be seen in Table 5.6 84.1 per cent.6 M 103.2 117.2 175. however.1 89. although an examination of each of the sessions and postings revealed that there was slightly more variation in the mean TTRs in the forums when compared with the chat.9 90.9 SD 86. while the forums were even more accurate at 99. the overall mean for spelling accuracy was 97.8 128.0 121. Investigation of the standard deviations did reveal.3).64 (see Table 5.5 146. Vocabulary Learner output was examined specifically for lexical density in terms of TTRs and for spelling accuracy.6 62. but this did not prove useful as many learners indicated in an informal survey taken at the end of the semester that they drafted their messages in Microsoft Word and cut and pasted these into Moodle.2 121.6 66.9 Forum SD 82.6 97.3 91.6 95.2 per cent for the chat sessions.9 words).8 153.

9 98.04 0.4 99.66 0.4 97.4 Percentage of correctly spelt words in each chat session/forum post Chat Week Number 1 Number 2 Number 3 Number 4 Number 5 Number 6 Overall M 98.62 0.09 0.3 97.09 0. ‘because’.92 0. In contrast.16 0.12 M 0.3 97.11 0.91 2.04 1.09 0.61 1.7 99.64 Forum SD 0. and there were very few errors in the function words (such as ‘when’.68 0.64 SD 0.44 1.63 0. A similar standard deviation for both the chats and forums indicates that the variation between the learners was relatively consistent in both modes.94 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Table 5.87 1.14 0.61 0. as can be seen in Table 5.7 96. The mean length of c-unit shows that there were markedly longer utterances produced in the forums (12. the data revealed a higher accuracy rate in the chat sessions when compared to the forums in terms of the percentage .87 0.57 0.3 Mean TTR for each chat session/forum post Chat Week Number 1 Number 2 Number 3 Number 4 Number 5 Number 6 Overall M 0.1 Forum SD 1. ‘however’ etc.62 0.89 1.5.10 0.11 0.4 99.2 SD 1.) in both the chats and the forums.15 interactions mainly occurred in the content words.94 0. there were some differences that were evident in syntax.67). Syntax Although little difference was noted between the tasks in the two modes with regards to vocabulary.71 0.08 0.67 0.1 97.10 0.09 Table 5.12 0.0 99.68 0.65 0.62 0.69 0.44 M 99.0 98.2 96.94 0.34 0.44) than in the chats (9.

9 22.1 of error-free c-units.8 21.92 2.6).1 per cent and 57.7 per cent for the chats.06 9.66 13.13 2.1 57. and 32.5 27.7 50. Discourse features There were a number of features that were evident in the synchronous and asynchronous modes.3 34.04 9.44 Forum SD 1.4 51.5 32.54 2.37 2.62 9.55 13.4 26.11 10.3 46.03 95 Table 5.14 2.7 25.41 1.87 12.2 40.3 40. and compared to the accuracy rate of 51. Accuracy was relatively low in both cases.40 12.9 M 48.56 2.7 29.8 50.54 10.1 SD 24.5 per cent for the forums.2 48.06 11.1 36. ranging between 40.9 per cent (see Table 5. the accuracy rate in the forums was only 40.82 1. although there was a markedly bigger range in the standard deviations for the forum postings compared to the chat sessions.78 2.40 9.8 21. Some of these suggested there were .37 9.Effects of Multimodality in CMC Tasks Table 5.1 per cent and 48.5 20.1 per cent in the chat sessions.6 Percentage of error-free c-units for each chat session/forum post Chat Week Number 1 Number 2 Number 3 Number 4 Number 5 Number 6 Overall M 54. The mean accuracy rates varied substantially for both modes.2 10.36 2.66 1.7 24.67 SD 2.3 53.35 M 13.5 30.5 Mean length of c-unit for each chat session/ forum post Chat Week Number 1 Number 2 Number 3 Number 4 Number 5 Number 6 Overall M 10.9 Forum SD 24.56 2.4 25.

and this is immediately followed up in the next interaction from Junko. while others provided evidence of how discourse in each of the modes was carried out. There were several instances of both of these. but these did not appear in the forums. and had come across this type of language use beforehand. It was very interesting to note . This would suggest that some of the learners may have had experience in chat previously. Junko: well. perhaps with native speakers. It is interesting to note that there were no examples of this type of Romanization in the forums.96 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology differences between the two modes. The following example illustrates this. but I think we can decide some rule. Here Junko uses the words ‘joshi ana’ which is Japanese for a female newscaster. There were also cases where learners directly copied spelling errors in the chat sessions. such as ‘wanna’. One of the most notable differences was that a number of learners chose to include Romanized Japanese words in chat. some girls want to become a joshi ana beause [sic] they get to meet celebirities [sic]. ‘do u think’. sneeking [sic] into homes is already against the law isn’t it? Tarou misspells the word ‘sneaking’. Note that the student names have been changed in all of the examples below. like don’t sneeking [sic] into homes. and did not occur at all in the forum postings. Junko chooses to try to make the Japanese word more like English by putting it into Romanized script rather than trying to use English. As the discussion is held in English. These were used by only a small number of the learners in the chat. however. or to paraphrase it using English words that she knew if she was unsure of how to say it in English. as can be seen in the following discussion between Tarou and Junko when talking about the paparazzi: Tarou: It’s hard to choose limit. ‘i agree’ and so forth. Junko: well. Another feature that was specific to the chat sessions was the use of abbreviations and non-capitalized forms of words.

Yumiko makes it clear here that she has read and understood the messages posted by two of the other learners. but by going beyond this and responding to specific points in the postings by these learners. Language produced by the learners yielded a marginally . However.Effects of Multimodality in CMC Tasks 97 that Junko produced the correct form ‘sneaking’ in a later forum posting. peer groups have an enormous influence over us. and it is not limited to SCMC. as can be seen by the following post: Yumiko: I agree with Yuusuke and Keiko. Regarding how the discourse was carried out. as Keiko mentioned. by not only showing her agreement to both Yuusuke and Keiko. but asynchronous communication has a tendency to become a string of monologues where learners are largely concerned with what they want to write and pay little attention to the postings or messages from others.64) for both the chat and the forums. the results suggested that there was very little difference between the ACMC and SCMC-based interactions. there was evidence in the forums that learners made reference to earlier postings by other learners as they performed the task. The basic principals [sic] of development and attitudes are probably nature. The above example indicates that focused communication where learners are conscious of the content of postings from others is also possible through ACMC modes such as forums. from your parents. reaching the same mean TTR score (0. not all children grow up to have similar personalities as their parents. There were no examples of copying of misspelling by learners in the forum data in the current study. In chat. so it is relatively easy to respond quickly to what others write. Also. refering [sic] to what Yuusuke said. there is a greater sense of the existence of other participants. Discussion Lexical density and spelling With regard to lexical density.

Spelling accuracy is not a point that has received much attention in earlier studies of CMC.2 per cent for the chat compared to 99. meaning that despite the . at 97. There were examples of where these words were spelt incorrectly in the chat but correctly in the forums (see the example of ‘sneaking’ in the results above). As many of the learners indicated that they first drafted their messages on a word processor before cutting and pasting them into the forums. for example. but generally errors appeared to be more of a typing error nature in the forums (but there were also examples like ‘pranning’ instead of ‘planning’). The first of these was misspellings that appeared to have occurred as a result of mistyping. and a combination of lack of knowledge of the word and typing error in the chats. or alternatively because the errors were removed for readability of the article. as can be seen by the typing of the word ‘viecles’ instead of ‘vehicles’.98 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology higher percentage of correctly spelt words in the asynchronous interactions when compared to the synchronous. was likely a typing mistake rather than not knowing how the word should be spelt. during one of the chat sessions wrote ‘intersting’ instead of ‘interesting’. This was an obvious advantage of the delayed synchronous nature of the text chat. it is likely that they employed the spell checker to remove most errors before posting them. based on the way in which the word was misspelled. again during the chat sessions. which. Another type of error appeared to be caused by lack of knowledge of how the word was spelt. errors in spelling generally appeared in two forms in the data collected. In many cases. and as a result were likely to have been able to quickly check the spelling of any unknown words before typing them.1 per cent for the forums. but it is not possible to determine whether this is because there were no errors in the original. it was difficult to tell with certainty whether misspelling was caused by a typing mistake or lack of knowledge of spelling of the word. Observing learners participating in the chat in class revealed that most referred to electronic dictionaries. so comparisons are relatively difficult. but in each case the accuracy rate was very high. One learner. In the current study. Examination of the output which is published in articles on text chat reveals almost no spelling errors.

First. There are a number of possible explanations for this. Syntactic complexity and accuracy The results regarding syntactic complexity and accuracy revealed slightly different results from those presented in earlier studies. however. rather than attempting to create the more complex structures that were seen in the forums. In the current study. the shorter time-frame of the SCMC could result in keeping learners within their grammatical comfort zone. more accurate in SCMC. learners chose to use grammatical forms that they felt confident with. In many cases. the higher accuracy in SCMC is . which contrasts with the results cited by both Sotillo and Hwang. but it may have been due to the fact that the discussions were held entirely between non-native speakers and as such there was a common understanding that writing messages may take some time. Regardless of the causes. opting instead to take care in writing to avoid embarrassment in front of the teacher. while one might expect that planning for writing in ACMC would contribute to greater accuracy. and avoided those that they were less certain of. learners still found that they had sufficient time to access other resources. the language produced by the learners was generally more complex in ACMC. That is to say. learners may review their work before posting it to the forums. This is obviously much more difficult to achieve in completely synchronous modes such as audio-conferencing. and this may have led learners to avoid taking risks in writing messages. however. which agrees with the results from both Sotillo (2000) and Hwang (2008). there is still the assumption that learners have achieved a certain level of proficiency in order to look critically at their own writing and determine the accuracy of what they have written. the presence of the teacher was very real.Effects of Multimodality in CMC Tasks 99 conversations occurring in real-time. In this context. Secondly. A third but related explanation may have been the presence of the teacher in the chats. The language produced by the learners was. It was also evident that the learners were quite willing to wait for a while for responses to come from other learners in regard to something that they wrote in the chats. but lacked the skills to determine the accuracy with any degree of reliability.

as was seen in the examples shown above where some learners chose to use Romanized versions of their mother tongue or first language (L1) during the chat. While thought to be slightly more flexible than the t-unit.100 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology not that surprising when considering that learners used less complex grammar when compared to ACMC. It would be useful. for example. the c-unit. to adopt a tool that allows measurement of the degree of inaccuracy of clauses rather than simply rating them as accurate or inaccurate in black and white terms. however. then. Implications of CMC modes for TBLT The use of multiple modes of CMC with language-learning tasks has the potential to train learners to develop different aspects of their second language (L2). This may have been to a certain degree a limitation of the measurement tool. learners can be forced to work with the vocabulary and syntax which they feel confident with. Although some may see it as detrimental if learners opt to use their L1 rather than attempting to identify the appropriate word in the target language. whereas learners of a slightly lower level may find the added buffer that the delayed synchronous text-chat provides them with sufficient time to consult some resources. there is still the problem that the degree of error is not taken into consideration. It was interesting to note that the syntactical accuracy ratings were rather low for both the chat and the forums. Examples of using the L1 have been seen in other studies on chat. the clause is still marked as being grammatically inaccurate. at least as far as checking unknown words are concerned. This is not to say that all learners will do this. Regardless of whether there is a single error within a clause or if the clause is virtually incomprehensible due to errors. such as Hwang (2008) where learners occasionally used Korean (written in Korean script) for unknown words. there may be greater pedagogical value in allowing learners to express their ideas to enable a task to be completed rather than in forcing them to break the flow of conversation . Learners of a higher proficiency may be capable of using purely synchronous modes such as audio.or video-conferencing. and because of the time pressures placed on them. Through the use of synchronous modes.

learners tend to write with more structure and cohesion and thus along the lines of language that is associated with written communication such as essays. As Sotillo (2000) argues. Teachers can also make informed decisions about whether to provide multiple modes of CMC for a single task to allow for individual learner preferences. and being aware of these applications can help teachers to make better decisions about what mode of CMC is appropriate in accomplishing tasks given the proficiency levels of the learners and the specific learning environment. Given this different expectation. SCMC puts pressure on learners to produce language quickly whereas ACMC may promote output that is more syntactically complex. and spent most of the time simply reading the messages of the other learners.Effects of Multimodality in CMC Tasks 101 to locate a single word. Because learners are more likely to string together a series of sentences in a single message in ACMC rather than the typically shorter messages of SCMC. These same learners often wrote quite substantial messages in the forums. but suffice to say that even in synchronous modes. then. learners will often aim to construct longer sentences which they may feel less confident in attempting in SCMC. which would indicate that they likely felt more comfortable with the asynchronous mode than the synchronous one. having a delay can give learners the option to use resources that can assist them in writing their messages. This has obvious implications with regard to the selection and design of tasks that occur through CMC. Another advantage of ACMC is that it may be easier to require learners to post or send messages when they feel that they have the time to plan and draft their messages in advance. that plurality provides learners with opportunities to develop different areas of their L2. . One notable point in many of the chat sessions in the current study was that there were learners who did not contribute greatly to the chat sessions. arguments between language teachers would be divided on this point. In contrast. to require all learners to use specified modes of CMC to accomplish different tasks throughout a given course. ACMC has the potential to push learners outside of their safety zone to use more complex grammar in their output. different CMC modes have different pedagogical applications. or rather. Obviously. We can say.

in that learners were more likely to use abbreviations. learners chose to produce shorter messages. It is clear from the study that the different modes of CMC had a direct influence on how the learners expressed their ideas and the processes behind communicating these ideas to others. and that the choice of CMC is likely to have a direct impact on what tasks are more appropriate. that the use of multiple modes of CMC has the potential to provide learners with ways to develop different aspects of their L2. there were other features that also distinguished the two modes. When given the time to draft messages as was seen in ACMC. Teachers need to be aware of how the mode of CMC can affect the message when learners undertake tasks through CMC. the language they produce and the strategies they use. then. but maintained a higher level of accuracy. There is a need. In addition. We can conclude. With the shorter periods of time available to them in SCMC. and developments in technology have naturally seen this teaching approach being adopted in computer-based environments as well. and revealed that while there was no significant difference in vocabulary in terms of lexical density or spelling accuracy. but at times this was done at the expense of accuracy. . non-capitalization and Romanized versions of Japanese words rather than the appropriate English words in the chat. learners attempted to use more complex structures. and to consider the best way to capitalize on the individual features of the mode for successful implementation of task-based language learning and teaching. then. Interactions in synchronous and ACMC were examined both quantitatively and qualitatively. the language used was generally syntactically more complex in the forums but markedly more accurate in synchronous text-chat. Learners were also more likely to copy spelling errors in the chat compared with the forums. and how the medium has the potential to affect the way in which learners interact.102 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Conclusion TBLT is an emerging but rapidly expanding area. to investigate how task-based learning (TBL) may be conducted in such environments.

Ellis. 13(2). Researching pedagogic tasks: Second language learning. teaching and testing (pp. 5–9 September. London: Routledge. B. Technical Report No. 8(1). Kitade. C. (1986). (2003). H.. literacy. Malden.. P. Johnson. D. 37(2). 68–87. Hampel. L. (Eds). (1996). R. Multiliteracies: literacy learning and the design of social futures (pp. Harlow: Longman. 157–167. Introduction. 254–268. 16(1). (2008). Task classification: A cross-disciplinary review. G. Language Learning & Technology. Kress. & Johnson. (2004). R. (2004). Multimodality. social. Herring (Ed. Cope & M. Task-based language learning and teaching. (2009). (2000). Cell phones in task based learning: Are cell phones useful language learning tools? ReCALL. Theoretical perspectives and new practices in audio-graphic conferencing for language learning.. 46–70. S. P. 66–82. Swain (Eds). learning: A multimodal approach. & C ech. P. University of Hawai’i at Manoa.. G. Collaborative e-mail exchange for teaching secondary ESL: A case study in Hong Kong. Human cognitive abilities: A survey of factor analytic studies. Z. (2003). An encyclopedic dictionary of applied linguistics: A handbook for language teaching. M. Towards an effective use of audioconferencing in distance language courses. Teaching. 1–20). G. (2009). University of Antwerp. 7(1). Greenfield. & Swain. ˇ Condon. MA: Blackwell Publishers. Collentine. Carroll. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. English Language & Literature Teaching. London: Routledge. Paper presented at the Eleventh International CALL Conference. 23(2). (2001). (2004). R. (2003). 71–84. The effect of synchronous and synchronous CMC on oral performance in German. . K. Hampel. and cross-cultural perspectives (pp. Oxford: Oxford University Press. M. CALICO Journal. Skehan & M. 319–348. 47–66. Bygate. Y. P. Skehan. (2006). (1993). Learner use of holistic language units in multimodal taskbased synchronous computer-mediated communication.. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Jewitt. Crookes.-A. ReCALL. K. 182–202). C. In M. Belgium. 15(1). M. The negotiation model in asynchronous computer-mediated communication (CMC): Negotiation in task-based email exchanges.. & Aizawa. Hoven. 65–80). K. (2009). Kiernan. 21–36. Computer-mediated communication: Linguistic. Linguistic characteristics in synchronous and asynchronous CMC. Methods in our madness? Re-examining the methodological frameworks of our field. K. J. & Hauck. In B. 14(2). In S.). (1999). The Modern Language Journal. Functional comparison of face-to-face and computer-mediated decision-making interactions. Kim. 87(2). Kalantzis (Eds). Social Science Research Institute. R. Language Learning & Technology. Hwang. 4.Effects of Multimodality in CMC Tasks 103 References Abrams. Bygate. The Center for Second Language Classroom Research. Language Learning & Technology. I. The effects of task complexity on learner-learner interaction. System. (2003).

Discourse functions and syntactic complexity in synchronous and asynchronous communication. 141–159. 275–288. (1997). ... Mahwah. (2003). P. ReCALL. Foreign language productivity in synchronous versus asynchronous computer-mediated communication. CALL dimensions: Options and issues in computer assisted language learning. Lamy. London: Longman.-R. London & New York: Routledge. (1989). S. Sotillo. 7(3). The effects of output task types on noticing and learning of the English past counterfactual conditional. CALICO Journal. Using native speakers in chat. Computer assisted language learning: Context and conceptualization. Analyzing multimodal interaction: A methodological framework. Literacy in the new media age. & van Leeuwen. System. Song. (2008). N. 36(2). D. (1996). G. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Oxford: Pergamon Press. R. Pérez. (2003). London: Routledge. 89–104. Nunan. 103–125. 82–119. Stockwell. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Levy. Integrating communication formats: Synchronous versus asynchronous and text based versus visual. Designing tasks for the communicative classroom. M-N. 37(2). (1987). Oxford: Oxford University Press. (1998). M.-J. L. 4(1). 19(2). Tudini. (2006). M. Levy. Samuda. (2007). J. Willis. (2007). M. Computers and Education. (2008). V. A review of technology choice for teaching language skills in the CALL literature. Lee. & Bygate. L. Kress. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ligorio. 30. B. M. Prabhu. A framework for task-based learning. Norris. (2004). 105–120. 295–312. G. & Hampel.104 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology —(2003). (2000). Multimodal discourse: The modes and media of contemporary communication. G. (2001). System. 21(1). S. A cognitive approach to language learning. & Stockwell.. (2001). Language Learning & Technology. Skehan.. & Suh. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. V. Language Learning & Technology. Tasks in second language learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Second language pedagogy. Online communication in language learning and teaching. M.. Synchronous online exchanges: A study of modification devices on non-native discourse. T. B. London: Arnold. S. (2002).

Bygate & Norris.Chapter 6 Measuring Complexity in Task-Based Synchronous Computer-Mediated Communication Karina Collentine Introduction Second-language acquisition (SLA) research attempts to describe the types of tasks that affect language learning: The impact of task type on task performance is a topic of considerable interest to second language task researchers. (Samuda & Bygate. then the kind of language that arises as a result of their use is bound to be of central interest to teachers. Such tasks can push output. find the lost keys). 47) Tasks involve holistic language use. p. designers. Robinson (2001) and Yuan and Ellis (2003) argue that tasks provide design principles encouraging learners to produce discourse with lexico-grammatical complexity. non-linguistic outcome (e.g. and others who consider their use to promote language development. 2009). which is characterized by single-clause sentences and simple word formation. Tasks can be the core of a curriculum as in task-based language teaching (TBLT) or they can be integrated as in tasksupported learning and teaching (TSLT) (Van den Branden. 2008). learners. are based on input. can be used at different stages of learning. 2008. have a meaningful. This should not be surprising: if tasks are a pedagogical tool for generating language work. to . and involve various phases (Samuda & Bygate. moving learners from pragmatic processing.

1996). Task-based researchers are developing design principles to increase the meaningfulness of language use and the amount of communicative interaction learners experience. One group enjoyed no planning time and a time limit to complete the task. number of different verb forms.106 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology syntactic processing. For example. A third group had no planning time. number of C-units) by four groups of intermediate-level English as a foreign language (EFL) learners. Three groups of learners. accuracy and complexity (i. with one important goal being the attempt to provide materials designers with insights into the task conditions that foster linguistic complexity. each . Foster and Skehan (1999) investigate the effects of planning time on fluency. they are more likely to produce complexity. but unlimited taskcompletion time. Yuan and Ellis (2003) examine the effects of planning time in a study designed to identify the task conditions that promote accuracy. suggesting that not all planning facilitates the production of complexity. another plausible conclusion is that when learners are not pressured with a limited time frame. This chapter explores these issues by focusing on the use of computer-mediated communication (CMC). differing in terms of planning time. such as complex sentences and complex word formations (Foster & Skehan. Language learners need the linguistic complexity resulting from syntactic processing if they are to operate in an academic or professional setting in the second language (L2) culture. Tasks and Linguistic Complexity Several researchers have studied task-based research relating to linguistic complexity. The third group produced the most complexity. type-token ratio [TTR]). another enjoyed pre-task planning time and a time limit. However. and was expected to plan during the task.e. retold a story. Samuda and Bygate (2008) challenge researchers to investigate the relationship between task design and how learners interact linguistically towards a shared goal because little is understood about the discourse learners create under various task conditions. ratio of clauses to T-units.e. fluency and complexity (i.

e. Advanced-level learners showed greater complexity. Thus.e. as well as lexically and syntactically complex. Ellis 2005). while the intermediate-low group only showed greater complexity and fluency but not greater accuracy. In their Limited Attentional Capacity model. in addition to how much time learners have to produce. mean-length of utterance. Foster and Skehan (1999) suggested that. Ortega (2005) concludes that the advanced-level learners optimized planning time. producing discourse that was more fluent and accurate. fluency and accuracy. These models appear to be contradictory (cf. lexical complexity and syntactic complexity (i. use of articles) in a narrative-based retelling task. Thus. The learners with the most time to plan produced significantly more complexity. it seems that when learners are not pressured for time to produce (whether they enjoy pre-task planning or not). Robinson (2005) presents his Cognition Hypothesis (CH). These studies examined the effects of planning for learners at just one level of instruction. number of words and propositions per utterance. Foster and Skehan (1999) suggest that. accuracy. when the communication task overtaxes short-term memory) because attention is focused on form. . when communication requires reasoning) rather than ‘resource depleting’ (i. they were forced to sacrifice complexity for communication. He proposes that learners generate linguistic complexity when communication is ‘resource directing’ (i. Foster and Skehan (1999) predict that the generation of morphosyntactic complexity is compromised when attentional resources are devoted to a proposition’s meaning. because the other conditions required learners to watch and talk. when processing resources are limited. it also seems that learners need to be at a certain developmental level to generate complexity in tasks. In a competing model. Samuda and Bygate (2008) wonder about the relationship between the role of planning and levels of proficiency on language use. they are more likely to produce complexity.e.Measuring Complexity in TB-SCMC 107 varying in terms of the degree of planning. based on Givón’s (1985) work on diachrony and on Perdue’s (1993) untutored SLA research. One study that addresses this gap is Ortega’s (2005) examination of the gains of intermediate-low and advancedlevel learners’ pre-task planning on their fluency. The task involved watching and orally retelling two silent videos.

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linguistic complexity will occur if processing meaning is not taxing. Yet, Robinson’s (2005) model predicts that learners will generate complexity when processing requires a certain degree of reasoning such as when it taxes working memory. Yet, these predictions are compatible if the assumption is that complexity increases when processing form is either possible or necessary for effective communication. All told, when learners have generous amounts of time to produce utterances, they may be able to focus on the more formal properties of their messages and thus produce more complexity. Kuiken and Vedder (2006) compared Foster and Skehan’s (1999) Limited Capacity Model and Robinson’s (2005) CH, concluding that tasks that place more demands on the discursive coherence that learners must produce tend to lead to greater complexity. Under what conditions might learners generate such discourse? Givón (1985) argues that situationally bound discourse is typically spontaneous because referents reside in the immediate surroundings, reducing the need to cohere. However, when one cannot depend on the situation for meaning, coherence is necessary, which occurs when one reports on events after the fact and away from the context. This displaced discourse is generally produced when learners have significantly reduced time pressure. One way to create the task conditions which allow learners a generous amount of time to produce individual utterances and which may also promote complexity is a condition that entails displaced discourse, such as writing a report of some event(s). It nevertheless needs to be kept in mind that a learner’s developmental level may be an important mitigating factor.

SCMC and Tasks
Much SLA research seeks to understand whether and how students learn in computer-mediated interactions, which can occur in realtime, over computer networks or with instant messaging tools such as iChat (Chapelle, 1998; Collentine, 2009; Payne & Whitney, 2002; Smith, 2003; Thorne, 2008). SLA researchers are attempting to learn whether the types of interactions and opportunities for acquisition in

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this synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC) are parallel or are different in important ways from face-to-face (FTF) learner interactions (Chapelle, 1998; Smith, 2005). There is some evidence that learners’ production may contain more complex language in SCMC than in oral, FTF tasks (Blake, 2000; Kern, 1995; Salaberry, 2000; Warschauer, 1996). SCMC is similar to the spontaneity of FTF interactions, where complexity is generally lacking. Yet, SCMC does not normally pressure participants to fill pauses like FTF interactions do, thus providing opportunities to generate lexico-grammatical complexity (Keller-Lally, 2006; Sotillo, 2000). Because it seems to lessen the impact of short-term memory on learner production, SCMC is an ideal venue in which to examine how task conditions promote the generation of complexity. Nevertheless, not all SCMC leads to linguistic complexity. Students may consider SCMC an informal mode of communication where fluency is a priority (Lee, 2002; Sotillo, 2000). Furthermore, complex structures may not always be the focus of negotiated interactions in TB-SCMC. In a study using jigsaw and information gap tasks, Blake (2000) reports that the amount of ‘syntactic negotiations’ was few compared to those involving individual words. Smith (2005) conjectures that, because the chat log is available at any time, TB-SCMC may not lead to morphosyntactically sophisticated negotiations. With the log available, coherence and thus complexity may not be imperative to communicate. Yet, little research on TB-SCMC attempts to identify the design features that promote linguistic complexity (Collentine, 2009; Salaberry, 2000; Smith, 2005). While general TBLT research examines the effects of task planning on complexity to identify the sort of tasks that lead learners to generate complexity (Foster & Skehan, 1999; Ortega, 2005; Yuan & Ellis, 2003), this sort of research has not, to my knowledge, been undertaken in TB-SCMC. Nor has TB-SCMC considered the interaction of task conditions like planning and level of development on complexity (cf. Samuda & Bygate, 2008). The limited TB-SCMC research on learners’ use of complexity employs metrics that have a longstanding tradition in studies of L2 complexity, such as the amount of subordination (e.g. T-units) that occurs in these tasks. Robinson (2001) wonders whether interlanguage

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(IL) appropriate measurements of complexity might better show whether linguistic complexity occurs in tasks because studies in which a task’s complexity is elevated have not had their intended effect (Robinson, 2005). The most commonly used metrics in TBLT or TB-SCMC research may not be sensitive to when learners – especially those at less advanced levels of instruction – push their syntactic and morphological abilities beyond what they have mastered. The following sections address this notion in detail.

Operationalizing Complexity
Recent research suggests that complexity might more precisely be operationalized with lexical and morphological features and not just syntactic ones, especially in highly inflected languages such as Spanish. For the most part, structural complexity in task-based activities has been operationalized on rather narrow grounds, normally in a measure that tabulates propositional nodes (e.g. S-nodes per T-Unit, clauses per T-Unit/C-Unit; cf. Kuiken & Vedder, 2006; Ishikawa, 2006). Yet, when we study acquisition in the context of highly inflectional languages like Spanish, we find reason to suspect that learners focused on the production of meaning might have no option but to process lexical, morphological and syntactic properties in a continuous, recursive loop (DeKeyser, Salaberry, Robinson & Harrington, 2002; Ortega, 1995, 2005). Ortega (2005) and DeKeyser et al. (2002) theorize that L2 learners of Spanish often process in a middle ground, focusing on both form and meaning because, in so doing, they can better communicate their messages. Their work suggests that learners of Spanish understand the importance of processing both lexical and morphosyntactic information. Thus, methodologies that only use T-Units or C-Units may not be sensitive enough to when learners are engaging in the production of greater than normal linguistic complexity. Expecting relatively high levels of T-Units or C-Units may be unreasonable. Also, examining so-called lexical complexity (e.g. the number of long-words, TTRs, the number of derivationally rich nouns; cf. Biber, Davies, Jones & Tracy-Ventura, 2006) may also be necessary to understand when learners are employing linguistic complexity.

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Is lexical and morphosyntactic production associated with complexity within native speaker speech? Corpus linguistics research has demonstrated that native speakers use both the lexicon and grammar to generate complex discourse. Biber and Conrad (2001) show that grammatical and lexical properties reliably co-occur, forming clusters of linguistic features thought to work in tandem to affect different types of discourse or levels of formality. Biber (1988) as well as Biber and Conrad’s (2001) multidimensional studies of English show that past-tense verbs, third-person pronouns, perfect tenses, present participle clauses and synthetic negation as well as lexical phenomena such as verbs of communication (e.g. to say, to tell, to shout) reliably co-occur in English narratives, a type of relatively complex discourse. In response to Robinson’s (2001) call for level-appropriate measures of complexity, Asención-Delaney and Collentine (2009) present a multidimensional, principal-factor analysis of a 200,000-word corpus from samples of intermediate (second year, university level) and advanced (third year, university level) foreign-language learners of Spanish. They show how learner clusters of complex lexical and grammatical features differ from native-speaker clusters. Their data reveal that, like native speakers, learners use clusters of lexical and grammatical features to generate relatively sophisticated and complex discourse. Yet, learners’ clusters are fewer in number and consist of fewer features. The nominal cluster entails six lexical and grammaical features: descriptive, preposed and post-posed adjectives, nouns (general), derived nouns or cognates and article + noun segments. The narrative cluster is characterized by eight features: verbs in the preterit, imperfect, subjunctive, conditional, or progressive; thirdperson pronouns, clitics, and the verbs ‘saber’ and ‘conocer’. Finally, Asención-Delaney and Collentine (2009) identified a complexity cluster that was filtered for only those features classically used to define complexity, such as subordinate clauses and passives. In other words, while the nominal and narrative clusters were identified with relatively no prior bias as to what features would constitute complexity, this third analysis only considered features traditionally associated with complexity. This cluster does not so much describe the core characteristics of particular discursive types like the nominal and

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narrative modes do. Instead, it represents the structural features used to interconnect propositions. This propositional complexity cluster is characterized by seven features: high TTR, por passives, noun clauses following verb, noun clauses following adjective, prepositions, nouns and non-restrictive clauses.

The Study
The extent to which the discourse learners produce in TB-SCMC is displaced in nature was varied to understand the amount of lexicogrammatical complexity learners produce in both unplanned and planned communication. Intermediate and advanced level learners of Spanish participated in two TB-SCMC conditions that required within-task planning and which differed in terms of whether production occurred at intervals during the task – called the Interrupted task chatting activity (ITCA) – or as the final step of the task – called the post-task chatting activity (PTCA). To accomplish this goal, the present study asks: 1. Do learners produce more displaced discourse and lexicogrammatical complexity in the ITCA or in the PTCA? 2. Is there a stronger effect for intermediate or advanced level learners?

Method
Participants
Eighteen advanced (third-year) university-level learners and twelve intermediate-level (second-year), university-level learners from intact classes participated in the study (N = 30). The advanced learners were enrolled in a composition course at a medium-sized university in the United States, a course in which they wrote narratives, descriptions, and expositions. The intermediate learners were students in fourth-semester Spanish classes at the university and at a community college whose courses are articulated with those of the university. The classes were traditional, FTF, TSLT classes that employed a variety of

the time of events). Learners viewed a short.Measuring Complexity in TB-SCMC 113 multimedia activities (e. about alibis.nau. watching videos.1). dyads engaged in a convergent task. the following questions were randomized throughout the two tasks: (1) ¿Alguien lo/la vio? Did someone see you? ¿Quién estuvo con usted? Who was with you? ¿Estuvo sólo/sóla? Were you alone? . where the information and numerous details were not pre-arranged (Foster & Skehan. Nevertheless. to ask about a character’s alibi. Interrupted-task chatting activity (ITCA) In the first task. Flash-based introduction describing the tasks and the accompanying technologies after being randomly assigned a partner.edu/collenti/juegos2/) were created for the experiment. For example (see Figure 6.g. 2001).g. The interactive Flash piece presented them with residents of an apartment building where a murder had occurred and allowed them to navigate through scenes to interview the residents. Pieces of information were phrased in different ways to ensure that the learners explored each resident’s information carefully. 1999. after which they received a text-based answer. imagining that they were detectives hired to solve a murder. internet exploration/ research) and writing activities. Tasks Two Adobe Flash-based opinion-exchange tasks (http://londonunderground. no activities involved instant messaging or chatting. learners clicked any of five questions – written in Spanish – in a textbox. which conform to Samuda and Bygate’s (2008) criteria for tasks. Robinson. were completed on a single day and lasted an entire class period. Learners discussed what they had discovered in a local area network via a synchronous conference application (iChat).modlang. To ask residents questions (e. The tasks.

Each of the three exploratory intervals lasted seven minutes. for a total of 21 minutes.114 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Osvaldo ¿Cómo pasó usted la noche? ¿Qué hora era? ¿Quién estuvo alli con usted? Haga click para ver una respuesta ¿Alguien lo vio a usted? ¿Hay algo más? How did you spend the evening? What time was it? Who was there with you? Did someone see you? Is there anything else? Click here to see an answer Figure 6. a dog groomer) who had .g. the Flash programme directed the learners to pause their interviewing and move to iChat where the pre-assigned dyads chatted about the information they had gathered and hypothesized about the murderer. they could later return to a room to pose any unanswered questions or even reread answers. for a total of 15 minutes. Post-task chatting activity (PTCA) In the second task. a repairperson. At three intervals. participants could ask each character three questions before the five visible questions and the character disappeared. at this point. The three chatting phases lasted five minutes. students would exit the room to interview a different character. dyads pretended to be upscale apartment tenants attempting to locate their lost safety deposit box keys by interviewing various personnel (e.1 Sample treatment screen To encourage discovery learning.

Measuring Complexity in TB-SCMC 115 been to the apartment during the day. The tagger also used probabilistic routines from the tagging routines of the python-based Natural Language Toolkit (http://nltk. The tagger employed a training set from the Corpus del español (Biber et al. The students interviewed the personnel for 21 minutes and then moved to iChat to discuss their hypotheses for 15 minutes. an assessment of whether learner language is complex along the lines of a learner model does not simply entail counting tokens of the elements of any . the second had learners first gather all relevant information then chat. 2006) and a part-of-speech dictionary with words tagged for various lexical and inflectional properties. the chat corpus was queried with concordance software for every instance of the targeted features identified by Asención-Delaney and Collentine (2009) as characteristic of one of three feature sets of learner models of Spanish complexity: the nominal cluster. which is reflected in the numerical analysis. The first task required learners to chat at predetermined intervals. Once the counts of each feature per individual transcript had been tabulated. two transformations were made on the data set that are standard practice in corpus-based research. Once tagged. the first task effectively forced learners to chat in 3 five-minute long intervals. Although both tasks allowed learners the same amount of time to interview characters and chat about their hypotheses.php/Main_Page). For technical reasons. as well as routines specifically designed for tagging L2 corpora. and the second effectively eased that pressure by giving participants 1 fifteen-minute chat interval. the learners were limited to asking personnel only three of the five questions during any single visit to a room. where every participant’s word in the iChat transcript in each task was tagged for lexical and part-of-speech information. one of the six intermediate-level dyads did not complete this task.net/index. Again. Analysis The analysis involves a three-step corpus-based process. to encourage exploration.. First. the narrative cluster and the propositional complexity cluster.sourceforge.

for each of the three clusters. essentially meaning that there was a greater than chance probability that there were a ‘significant’ number of tokens of that feature. Such a methodology would introduce two biases: the text-length bias is that longer texts (e.g. By summing the z-scores for a particular learner in a particular condition on. since the z-scores do not provide a sense of scale (e. the PTCA had more ‘relative’ tokens of the verbal features than the ITCA condition. If. it is reported whether an average’s 95 per cent and 99 per cent confidence intervals excluded 0. Understanding and taking into account the feature-concentration bias requires an understanding of the power of z-score normalizing (or standardizing) frequency counts. for instance. the counts of all frequencies tabulated per chat were normed to tokens per 1000 words. verbs in the preterit and the imperfect are likely to be much more frequent than clitics or instances of saber/conocer.g.0. Any chat can have a greater or lesser concentration of any one of these features. for example. Taking the narrative cluster as an example. the set of narrative features. Still. Thus. it is apposite to . To account for the text-length bias. although all analyses presented below are derived from scaled counts.1 Results Before proceeding to the complexity analysis. then the former task was mathematically more narrative-like. the feature-concentration bias is that features which are naturally more common would (also) have an undue influence on the counts. they give no indication of the average number of infinitives not preceded by a verb or article in some condition). an additional perspective is provided by including descriptive statistics of the scaled occurrences of the features studied here. Technically speaking.116 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology given set of features and summing their frequencies. we can determine the extent to which the learner used narrative-like features. the z-scores from each cluster’s features were summed for each participant in each condition. standard analyses on measurements of (z-score) central tendencies tested the effects of the two conditions between the two levels of learners. a measurement of whether the average number of tokens of each feature within a given condition or learner level occurred at a rate greater than chance is provided. In addition. Once calculated. learners that produce more during a task) would contribute more to the counts.

62].41 ITCA PTCA Figure 6. The advanced-level learners produced significantly more turns per learner.60 (sd = 3.5 0 Intermediate –0. n = 18) −1.5 2 1.58 [1.01).7.000). but no interaction.4) turns per learner (F = 6. Regarding the experimental condition.5 3.4) (F = 14.2) while the intermediate learners averaged 10. producing 17. the results show that more overall complexity was produced by advanced-level learners and that there was a trend towards the production of more complexity in the ITCA. n = 34) 3.5 –0.65. where the intermediate-level learners produced higher concentrations of Table 6. n = 32) 0. at an average of 18. p = 0.5 –1 –1.2 (sd = 9.5 1 0.22 (sd = 3. p < 0.3 (sd = 7.56 (sd = 4.3 (sd = 6.64. This analysis showed an effect for task and for learner level.1 and Figure 6.69.41 (sd = 3.68 [1. the results indicated a main effect for level.1 3 2. Regarding the nominal cluster measurement (see Table 6. n = 20) −0.83.62].13 (sd = 4.75.84 (sd = 3.65.1 (sd = 4.2 Nominal cluster: Descriptive statistics of summed z-scores by task and learner level . The ITCA led to a greater number of turns.1 (sd = 9. n = 14) 3.1 Nominal cluster: descriptive statistics of summed z-scores by task and learner level Intermediate ITCA PTCA Level −0.83 (sd = 3. n = 38) Task −0.22 Advanced –0.2).Measuring Complexity in TB-SCMC 117 provide some sense of perspective on how much each level of learners produced in the tasks.8) turns per learner while the PTCA led to 12.84 –1.67. n = 14) 1. n = 28) Advanced −0.

las llaves ‘they keys’.g.093 5. the intermediate learners seldom used adjectives. Indeed. es sospechoso ‘he is suspicious’). the there-and-then. employing instead nouns and article + noun segments. la cocinero ‘the cook’). The complexity comes in the chaining together of nouns. the role of the L1 needs to be investigated .019 nominal features than the advanced-level learners. sentences with numerous nouns and article + noun segments to complete the task.g.23 64.418 4. There is a marked absence of verbs in the past and a heavy dependence of verbs in the present (e.g.16 90.238 0. the results showed that there was a significant interaction between level and task. for example. While it is true that the use of numerous nominal features produces a semantically dense discourse.118 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Table 6.805 p 0. cocinero ‘cook’). despite this task lending itself to communications about events in the past. Only the advanced-level learners employed a significant amount of adjectives. 1985). raquel dice que el muchacho tiene las llaves a las diez ‘raquel says that the guy has the keys at ten’). and article + noun segments (e. pedro a las 9 dio las llaves a la senora (las ventanas) ‘pedro at nine gave the keys to the woman (the windows)’. The intermediate learners’ nominal strategy may have involved using nouns and article + nouns to mention as many characters and details remembered. for example.2). reparador ‘repairman’.06 Mean Sq 22.g.047 0. señorita ‘young woman’.23 64. minuto ‘minute’. el muchacho ‘the guy’.68 F 1. In addition. In the PTCA.2 Nominal cluster: significance tests of summed z-scores Df Task Level Task × Level Residuals 1 1 1 62 Sum Sq 22. of the features clustered in the nominal discourse. referencia ‘reference’).99 15. refrigeradores ‘refrigerators’. the learners produced arguably long sentences.g. the use of cognates (e. mostly to evaluate characters and their motives (e. due to the intermediate-level learners’ production of higher concentrations of nominal features in the PTCA (see Table 6.99 1084.16 90. nouns with two or more morphemes (e. discourse focused on the here-and now. The nouns make concrete references to people and things in the task to create situationally bound discourse (Givón.

25 (sd = 4. the L1 is helping the intermediate learners to produce this semantically dense discourse.5 –1.07 8.18 (sd = 3.18 1 0. n = 14) −0. n = 32) −1. n = 18) −0.Measuring Complexity in TB-SCMC 119 further.43 5. the analysis indicated that there was no interaction between level and task but that there was a main effect for task. n = 20) 0.62 17.36.4). Concerning the narrative cluster (see Table 6.06 Mean Sq 97.321 p 0.5 0 Intermediate –0.94 (sd = 3.3 and Figure 6.87.3).63.64 ITCA PTCA –1 –1.5.3 (sd = 5.26. n = 34) 1.78.43 5. Table 6. n = 14) −1.5 –2 –2.68.94 Figure 6.38 (sd = 3. n = 28) Advanced 1.28 (sd = 4.552 0. n = 38) Task 1.4 Narrative cluster: significance tests of summed z-scores Df Task Level Task × Level Residuals 1 1 1 62 Sum Sq 97.5 1.48 F 5.3 Narrative cluster: Descriptive statistics of summed z-scores by task and learner level Table 6.64 (sd = 3.18 (sd = 3.490 0.573 .74.022 0.07 8.3 Advanced –0.3 Narrative cluster: descriptive statistics of summed z-scores by task and learner level Intermediate ITCA PTCA Level 1. with higher concentrations of narrative behaviours in the ITCA (see Table 6.482 0.62 1084.5 1. Perhaps because Spanish and English share many noun cognates and derivational suffixes.

The narrative features of this cluster allow them to report on the events of the storyline.’) as well as prepositions not only to state the events (like the narrative cluster) but also to provide details. Reporting on events (versus listing characters and things) helps all learners accomplish the task because. the advanced-level learners produced higher concentrations of the propositional complexity features (see Table 6.’ Finally. Like in the detective game ‘Clue’.’. the intermediate-level learners used nominal features to affect complexity while the advanced-level learners tended to use propositional complexity. . as evidenced in the nominal cluster. . number. Across the board the learners in both groups employ the features of the narrative cluster in the ITCA. . . after all events have been reported. Spanish’s two primary past tenses. ‘I believe that . . dijo que .120 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology With the narrative cluster. Paco estaba con su groupo de musica ‘Paco was with his musical group’. for example. instead of on characters and things. the analysis indicated that there was no interaction between level and task but that there was a significant main effect for level (see Table 6. . with respect to the propositional complexity cluster. in the time pressure condition of the ITCA. identifying both a character and his/ her actions or alibi (or lack thereof) gets a player closer to winning the game by eliminating potential causes for certain effects. pero tina dijo que ella mire la tele con paco a las once ‘but tina said that she watch(ed) TV with Paco at eleven’. The advanced-level learners used nouns and verb + noun clauses (e.5 and Figure 6. .4). their alibis and what they were doing: el doctor estaba con su esposa anoche ‘the doctor was with his wife last night’. the narrative cluster provides learners with the linguistic means to complete this task. the murderer can more easily be identified from among the group of characters because we know who did what. both groups produced numerous past tense verbs. tina dijo que ella mire la tele con paco a las once ‘Tina said that she watched TV with Paco at eleven. However. It may be that. in the PTCA (where they had more time). perhaps a product of the heavy verbal training of their curriculum which emphasizes that Spanish verbs encode information about person. where communication is most pressured.6). . ‘he/she said that . tense and mood.g. there is a predominance of verbs in the preterit and imperfect tenses. All of the following account for residents. creo que . These learners have the linguistic .

42 –0.039 0. n = 14) −0.96 F 1.32 4.16 (sd = 1.14 (sd = 1. n = 14) −0.93.022 p 0.28 0.4 –0.39 Figure 6.38 Mean Sq 1.05.01.5 Propositional complexity cluster: descriptive statistics of summed z-scores by task and learner level Intermediate ITCA PTCA Level −0.39 (sd = 0.882 resources and the time to identify who reported the events by producing nouns (the ‘who’).16 Advanced 0.2 –0.03.28 0.06 ITCA PTCA 0.29 (sd = 1. n = 20) 0. n = 32) −0.03.6 Propositional complexity cluster: Significance tests of summed z-scores Df Task Level Task × Level Residuals 1 1 1 62 Sum Sq 1.5 –0.32 4. the advanced-level learners use prepositions .42 (sd = 1.15 (sd = 0. n = 18) 0.88.1 0 Intermediate –0. to explain the events with verbs and verb + noun clauses (the ‘what’).97.381 4.06 (sd = 0.3 –0.02 59.5 0.470 0. n = 34) 0. to give details about the events (the ‘when’).98.244 0.4 0. To support their ideas.2 0.02 0. and to state their beliefs about events (the ‘why’).1 –0.3 0.Measuring Complexity in TB-SCMC 121 Table 6.4 Propositional complexity cluster: Descriptive statistics of summed z-scores by task and learner level Table 6. n = 28) Advanced 0.22 (sd = 0. n = 38) Task 0.

g.’). as they experimented almost no latency effects (i. and it was explained to students that once the bar reached the right side of the screen they would stop exploring the content. At the time of the experiment screen sharing services were not available.g. . ‘Uhm . although future projects will need to control their use. In the first place. the local area network connectivity allowed the learners to communicate almost simultaneously. In the Flash pieces every scenario (e. Once a given time period expired the Flash video revealed a screen that directed the participant to begin communicating with his/her partner in iChat. which decreases the need to produce fillers (e. and so learners rarely need to produce utterances while keeping in the back of their minds that they may lose a turn. The primary advantage of iChat for TBLT purposes is that it allows for synchronous textual communication.g. este . The Study’s Use of Technology and TBLT There were a number of features in iChat and the Flash software that promoted TBLT. there is less pressure to backchannel (e. . which may allow learners to attend more to the incoming message’s meaning and the form than in FTF situations. This took the form of a black graphic bar at the bottom of the screen that slowly expanded from left to right. ¿De veras? ‘Really?’) while reading or waiting for an interlocutor’s messages. lag time) between their communications. room. The Flash software allowed for a high level of control over the tasks’ features and for exploration of the task’s relevant ‘content’.122 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology to express the time of events (a las diez y media ‘at ten thirty’) and to express with whom events occurred (con Paco ‘with Paco’). The students were not allowed to use iChat’s video conferencing services so that all communication took place in the form of text messages. outdoors place) had 2–3 exits to allow the user to move to another seemingly random . The Flash pieces had a timer mechanism that controlled the amount of time that the participants worked with software and that continuously conveyed whether there was much time remaining during any given exploration period. In addition.e. . This SCMC technology also allows learners to plan utterances much more than FTF situations. .

This also permitted partners to have different experiences so that they might feel compelled to ‘compare notes’ in iChat. this design feature was intended to promote note comparing in iChat since partners most likely gathered different pieces of information to solve different parts of the puzzle during the limited time each had to explore the scenarios. the Flash software was designed so that no text could be copied or pasted into a digital scratchpad or into iChat. Finally. For the participants this technology was meant to serve much like moving from room to room in a house.5.Measuring Complexity in TB-SCMC 123 location.5 Overlay of screens with timer bar and iChat directions . The possible questions appearing in list boxes and the limitations that the software imposed on the number of questions that could be asked allowed individual participants to essentially pose different questions to the different characters. as in Figure 6. This forced the learners to rely on their memory about what was said and so they Figure 6. Again. allowing learners to explore the content and interview different people. In each Flash scenario the participants could ask questions of whomever was present.

g. Complexity can be defined by different learner models of complexity. When pressured to communicate (as in the ITCA). different types of complexity result based on task and learner level. ‘S/he said that’). learners would be more apt to engage in complexity. factor analyses of these types of learners (Asención-Delaney & Collentine. It was thought that. The learner models of complexity used in this study are taken from learners at the same levels of instruction and thus are arguably developmentally appropriate models of complexity. they used a higher concentration of the nominal cluster than the advanced-level learners.124 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology were more likely to produce unique messages that were often preceded by qualifications of belief (e. with less pressure to communicate. . The PTCA was designed to create the conditions ripe for the generation of complexity. 2009). Defining complexity by the number of C-units alone may not provide useful insights into how and when this level of learner generates complexity. Discussion and Conclusions If one considers learner models of complexity (as opposed to native speaker ones). They devoted their time to hypothesizing about the lost keys. dijo que. Robinson (2001) appears to be correct in suggesting that IL appropriate measures of complexity show that intermediate and advanced-level learners do generate complexity in tasks. The results also indicate that time pressure – or the lack thereof – determines the type of complexity that learners generate. they generate one type of complexity: nominal features. The difference between this and other studies is that the complexity is not native-speaker referenced but is the complexity that learners at this level are able to generate. They are types of complexity that reliably occur in this population since they are the result of multidimensional. When the intermediatelevel learners have more time. The results show this to be partially true.g. combining many article + noun segments and simply using numerous nouns in general. creo que ‘I believe that’) or reports (e. When intermediate-level learners enjoyed less pressure. as suggested by Foster and Skehan (1999).

Samuda and Bygate (2008) note that task selection should be made with the sequence of the entire curriculum in mind instead of based on one particular activity.and advanced-level learners with opportunities to generate complexity. using a high degree of nouns. suggesting that. That is. and prepositions in both tasks. instructors can better predict the types of language behaviour their students will produce in various tasks and/or conditions. Indeed. for propositional complexity. opinion-exchange tasks using SCMC such as the ones described in this study because. for both the ITCA and the PTCA. Indeed this is the only measure of complexity that was not sensitive to task conditions. although teachers are often at a loss as to the pedagogical reasons for selecting one task over another (Samuda & Bygate. SCMC tasks containing the features described earlier will indeed provide intermediate. opinion-exchange tasks yield learner production containing greater complexity. Skehan (1998) claims that complex language may be more important to language development than accuracy or fluency and that tasks that give learners opportunities to develop complexity should be used. How do these results guide practitioners and materials designers in their selection and design of tasks? The present study shows that. which was designed to burden the learners’ cognitive processing during their communications.Measuring Complexity in TB-SCMC 125 these results show that it is difficult for these learners to generate discourse with an abundance of the nominal cluster features. as Duff (1986) notes. the advanced-level learners generated a higher concentration of the features of propositional complexity than the intermediate-level learners. by using IL appropriate measures of complexity. verb + noun clauses. when attempting to delineate the tasks that affect language learning. Producing the cluster of features associated with the narrative cluster seems to be the preferred strategy for both levels of learners when faced with time pressure to communicate. Advanced-level learners will benefit because these tasks help them generate propositional complexity. All of the learners in this study produced higher concentrations of this cluster’s features in the ITCA task condition. instructional level makes a difference. . The advanced-level learners produced higher concentrations of the propositional complexity cluster. materials designers and practitioners would do well to include open-ended. 2008).

(1988). Manuscript submitted for publication. Biber. Multimedia CALL: Lessons to be learned from research on instructed SLA. Davies. 21–39. R. . Jones. & Tracy-Ventura. 259). US. Spoken and written register variation in Spanish: A multi-dimensional analysis. (2006). D. Language Learning and Technology. Blake. Paper presented at the Hispanic Linguistics Symposium.96) for 95 per cent and Mean – (sd/sqrt*2. 1. Spanish written learner corpus: A closer look at Spanish learners’ morphosyntactic and lexical abilities. & Conrad. & Collentine. M. A multidimensional analysis of written L2 Spanish.5) for 99 per cent confidence. (2000). Chapelle. D. 3–13). 1–37. Dufficy (2004) laments the lack of an ‘inventory describing the relationship between task types and the varied language work that accompanies them’ (2004. then zero is said to be excluded from the interval. S. References Asención-Delaney. In S. a task in which learners are not pressured to communicate (like the PTCA) is in order.126 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology To help intermediate learners develop their abilities to produce complexity along the nominal cluster. TX. J. Y. London: Longman. Biber. 4. 1–4 November 2007. C. Biber. Computer-mediated communication: A window on L2 Spanish interlanguage. Conrad & D.. If the resulting number is greater than zero. Variation across speech and writing. —(2009). 2. (2007). J. then a task in which learners are pressured to express their ideas (like the ITCA) should be chosen. adding to the general TBLT research about the types of tasks that yield learner linguistic complexity and providing new knowledge about how TBSCMC in particular fosters linguistic complexity. (2001). Corpora. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Language Learning and Technology. This study provides a first step towards such an inventory... Variation in English: Multi-dimensional studies (pp. San Antonio. Introduction: Multi-dimensional analysis and the study of register variation. When the goal is for either intermediate-level or advanced-level learners to practice the development of the narrative cluster of complexity. 120–136.. p. D. (1998). Biber (Eds).. Note 1 A confidence interval to check whether a mean is greater than zero at a probability greater than chance entails: Mean – (sd/sqrt*1. N.

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Payne, J., & Whitney, P. (2002). Developing l2 oral proficiency through synchronous CMC: Output, working memory and interlanguage development. CALICO Journal, 20, 7–32. Perdue, C. (1993). Adult language acquisition: Crosslinguistic perspectives Vol. 1: Field Methods. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Robinson, P. (2001). Task complexity, task difficulty, and task production: Exploring interactions in a componential framework. Applied Linguistics, 22, 27–57. —(2005). Cognitive complexity and task sequencing: Studies in a componential framework for second language task design. IRAL, 43, 1–32. Salaberry, R. (2000). L2 Morphosyntactic development in text-based computermediated communication. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 13, 5–27. Samuda, V., & Bygate, M. (2008). Tasks in second language learning. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Skehan, P. (1998). A cognitive approach to language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Smith, B. (2003). Computer-mediated negotiated interaction: An expanded model. The Modern Language Journal, 87, 38–57. —(2005). The relationship between negotiated interaction, learner uptake, and lexical acquisition in task-based computer-mediated communication. TESOL Quarterly, 39, 33–58. Sotillo, S. (2000). Discourse functions and syntactic complexity in synchronous and asynchronous communication. Language Learning and Technology, 4, 82–119. Thorne, S. (2008). Mediating technologies and second language learning. In J. Coiro, M. Knobel, C. Lankshear & D. Leu (Eds), Handbook of research on new literacies (pp. 417–450). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Van den Branden, K., Bygate, M., & Norris, J. M. (2009). Task-based language teaching: A reader. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Warschauer, M. (1996). Motivational aspects of using computers for writing and communication. In M. Warschauer (Ed.), Telecollaboration in foreign language learning: Proceedings of the Hawai’i symposium (pp. 29–46). Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai’i, Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center. Yuan, F., & Ellis, R. (2003). The effects of pre-task planning and on-line planning on fluency, complexity, and accuracy in L2 monologic oral production. Applied Linguistics, 24, 1–27.

Part II

Applying Technology-Mediated Tasks

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Chapter 7

Task Design for a Virtual Learning Environment in a Distance Language Course
Regine Hampel

Introduction
The rapid development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has had a profound impact on language education where interaction has been a central concept since the 1980s, both in sociocultural and cognitive approaches to learning (Lamy & Hampel, 2007). Today, institutional virtual learning environments (VLEs, also known in American contexts as Learning Management Systems [LMSs] or Content Management Systems [CMSs]) are increasingly used not only for making resources available to learners but also for offering students and teachers a choice of online communication tools. This fits in with Weller’s (2007, p. 5) definition of a VLE as ‘a software system that combines a number of different tools that are used to systematically deliver content online and facilitate the learning experience around that content’. With an array of electronic communication and collaboration tools, making increasing use of social software (Sclater, 2008), online interaction between learners is becoming easier. Such tools range from relatively simple written environments (e.g. synchronous chat or asynchronous forums) to complex virtual worlds that offer graphics, text and audio; activities include discussions between learners in distance settings, intercultural activities with students of other languages, and communication with other users of technology, for example, in Second Life.

2003. 2003. foster interaction and dialogue. 2007) and not enough is known about how such tasks need to be designed for complex virtual learning environments. I then focus on a second aspect of the model. and thus support language acquisition. namely task design. in online chat). Such configurations. 2006) which informs the study at the centre of this chapter.g. Doughty & Long. with later sections exploring how this model was realized in a particular educational context using a specific virtual learning environment. contextual effect. Klapper. 2000). represent opportunities for learners to manipulate interdependent chunks of the target language in complex ways that see immediate. I present the findings from two studies that informed the development of the online materials of the course.g. using Ellis’s (2003) and Oxford’s (2006) task frameworks to describe in detail the task features of the . I then introduce a model for task development (Hampel. Samuda & Bygate. While it is clear that tasks play a crucial role in successful language learning (Ellis. while using the possibilities of the medium and taking account of its challenges? And how does the educational context affect this design? After outlining the approach to task-based language teaching (TBLT) used here. 143). p. links it with task design: The oral/aural negotiational aspect of teacher and task supported student–student configuration is seen as a powerful venue for second language acquisition to occur. Hampel. pointing to the importance of interaction.132 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Meskill (1999. 2003. How can tasks best motivate and support learners. thus promoting language learning (Sotillo. work on task-based language learning and teaching in online settings has been limited (e. Although Meskill concentrates on spoken communication. the remainder of this introductory section is taken up with a brief overview of the background to the research. 2006. it has been shown that negotiation of meaning can also occur in written interaction (e. After examining how the theoretical approach informed the development of tasks. Wang. 2008). in combination with well designed and orchestrated language learning tasks.

g. reach a consensus.org/). complete a puzzle. 35). ‘asserting that language learning depends on learners being involved in real communication in which they use language in a meaningful way’.) and in which effective completion of the task is accorded priority’.g. ‘unlike the strong version of CLT. that is. see http://moodle. However. points to some issues that merit further research. play a game. through the use of a VLE or of a mix of individual tools) (for an explanation of the term blended learning. and tries to pinpoint some essential features of online task design. etc. that initial fluency work should lead gradually to accuracy-focussed activities. printed books. p.Task Design for a VLE in a Distance Language Course 133 Open University course.’ Tasks are seen as ‘meaning-based activities closely related to learners’ actual communicative needs and with some real-world relationship.’ It is an offshoot from the strong version of communicative language teaching (CLT). in which learners have to achieve a genuine outcome (solve a problem. The final section gives a brief summary of the task development process. 11–14). Following Klapper (2003. The approach to TBLT in this chapter is informed by Klapper (2003) and Ellis (2003) who follow what could be called a weak version of TBLT. The Open University . The course takes a task-based approach to designing activities for a virtual learning environment based on Moodle (a free open source virtual learning environment which allows users to adapt it to their own requirements. see Mason & Rennie [2006]. one which combines more traditional modes of delivery (e. it crucially insists that acquisition needs to be supported by instruction that ensures a certain attention to linguistic form. DVDs with audio and visual materials and faceto-face tutorials) and e-learning (e. a number of characteristics can be listed: ‘[I]t believes the communicative interaction characteristic of taskbased work provides sufficient comprehensible input to “trigger” acquisitional processes. pp. The context of the present chapter is a blended language course.

This tuition includes face-to-face or telephone tutorials (depending on the specific requirements of the region where the student is based). assessment materials. links). course books as e-books. While the Open University has extensive expertise in designing conventional distance language courses and developing teaching materials for synchronous audio conferencing. synchronous online tutorials via Elluminate (a multipoint desktop videoconferencing system that includes a range of tools such as a whiteboard or a web tour). Ireland and continental Western Europe – consists of the following materials which learners study on their own: printed course books developed in-house by a course team made up of academics and academic-related members of staff. Students – who require no formal qualifications and come from a variety of age groups and backgrounds – are allocated to tutor groups led by Open University Associate Lecturers whose responsibilities include marking assignments and giving tutorials. In order to explore the use of tools such as forums. a Moodle course website with course resources (e. DVD-ROMs with interactive activities (based on text as well as audio and video clips). we will examine in what ways these foster learning and how the technologies used support the process and potentially transform the nature of task-based learning. and asynchronous input and support on the course website. online tasks and quizzes. also produced in-house. . blogs and wikis – tools with which many students are not familiar – two pilot studies (described below) were set up specifically to inform the design of the online materials of the new course. With tasks being our main focus in this chapter. asynchronous tools for language learning and teaching were introduced only recently and the course at the centre of this chapter was one of the first to be offered in this new blended mode.134 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology German course (CEFR entry level B1/exit level B2) – taught over nine months at a distance to students across the UK.g.

A task is intended to result in language use that bears a resemblance. it requires them to give primary attention to meaning and to make use of their own linguistic resources. and oral or written skills. While the context of the 2006 article was an audiographic conferencing application. 16) definition of task provides a useful starting point: A task is a workplan that requires learners to process language pragmatically in order to achieve an outcome that can be evaluated in terms of whether the correct or appropriate propositional content has been conveyed. a task can engage productive or receptive. pp. In this model. In Hampel (2006) a three-level model of task development was proposed. and procedure encompasses the actual implementation of the tasks and their use by the learners – what Oxford (2006. This definition reflects current theories of second language learning which focus on meaning (while not neglecting form. To this end.g. 17) definition). and also various cognitive processes. and learner and teacher roles. approach refers to theories about the nature of language and language learning as well as the possibilities (and constraints) that the technology in question affords. or what Breen (1987. this chapter concerns itself . 24–25) labels ‘task-in-process’. p. Like other language activities. p. although the design of the task may predispose them to choose particular forms. Ellis’s (2003. Nunan’s (2006. on a range of skills (relating to language as well as content). and on processes (as well as outcomes and products). on language use (rather than language acquisition). consisting of approach. direct or indirect. functions and types of tasks. Based on Richards and Rogers (1986/2001). 97) calls ‘activity’ or ‘behavior that occurs when students perform a task that has been presented to them’. p. design includes the syllabus. it has also been applied by Hubbard (1992) and Levy (1999) to their methodological thinking about CALL. see e. to the way language is used in the real world. design and procedure.Task Design for a VLE in a Distance Language Course 135 Framework For the purposes of this chapter.

history. 177) points out. a view which ‘intentionally blurs social scientists’ divisions among component parts of persons. Approach The course team’s approach to the development of tasks was underpinned by different theories of learning and included cognitive as well as sociocultural theories about the nature of language and language learning and the affordances of the virtual learning environment in question (in our case Moodle). However. as the first year of the course in question is still on-going. we will focus on the first two levels of approach and design. These theories have had a profound impact on language teaching where communicative activities have become more central. 1980). who stresses the importance of input. p. 63). and it has been recognized that social. with almost 170 students across ten tutor groups. p. and the world’ (Lave 1991. cultural. thanks to the shared belief that they lead to higher forms of learning. interaction and output. Based on Vygotsky’s (1978) and Leontiev’s (1981) sociocultural theories which were developed in the early twentieth century. p. 63–64). institutional and historical factors also play a crucial role. pp. instead. cognition has metamorphosed into a ‘social phenomenon’ (Resnick (1991. 1) and we now talk about shared cognition and understand thinking and learning as situated social practice.’ . the third level of the model (procedure) will not be considered here. and the social world [are being seen] as interrelated processes that constitute each other’ (Lave 1991. and ‘mind. where speakers are concerned with the message as well as with the form of what they say – especially when breakdowns in communication occur (Canale & Swain. their activities. Cognitive or psycholinguistic second language acquisition theories go back to Krashen (1981). Thus the notion of learning has been rethought. However. culture. As Ellis (2003. ‘acquisition occurs in rather than as a result of interaction.136 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology with a more complex Moodle-based virtual learning environment. Interaction is seen as the locus for negotiation of meaning. there is more to language learning than cognitive processes in the brain of the learner.

‘these mediational means shape the action in essential ways. 2003. 180–181). pp. Hampel & Hauck. It has been shown that their use in language learning is not neutral but influences language development (Thorne. So what is the impact of this technological mediation in a context where those learners who are unfamiliar with the use of Web 2. In the course presented here the question was how to build this form of mediation into the tasks in an institutional context where learners are mostly studying at a distance and where tutor input is relatively small. learning objectives. a study calendar. the wiki and blogs – as well as synchronous tutor-led sessions using the videoconferencing software FlashMeeting (Hampel. in press). 2003. 12) points out. Aimed at trialling some of the online tools available at the time. As Wertsch (1991. Communication tools are another mediating factor.’ When learning is mediated through other people the notion of scaffolding becomes central – defined as ‘the dialogic process by which one speaker assists another in performing a function that he or she cannot perform alone’ (Ellis. Stickler & Hampel. quizzes and asynchronous tasks – including web searches and communicative activities using the forum.0 technologies greatly outnumber the more experienced ones? Findings from the Pilot Studies The design and implementation of the online activities was greatly informed by the findings of the two preceding pilot studies. the course included a Moodlebased course website with resources. 2009. learner . our main findings related to the following areas: collaborative learning. p. The first one – entitled CyberDeutsch – took place in 2006 in the form of a five-week intensive German course with two groups of 25 volunteer students overall (at CEFR levels B1 and B2). 2006).Task Design for a VLE in a Distance Language Course 137 Sociocultural theories have also introduced the concept of mediation – with other people through interaction as well as through language and other tools or artefacts (such as technology or tasks). CyberDeutsch project In terms of the use of Moodle tools.

contributions from the learners were very unequal. and rather than communicating with their peers directly they used the tutor as an intermediary. in our study. tutors getting the balance right in supporting the online activities (between being too ‘hands off’ and too controlling). We found that it can be more conducive to students’ learning to combine online tools and learning aspects and to allow different learners to choose those tools and activities to suit their learning style(s) and objectives.138 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology preferences. they did not seem to be transparent to students. there were issues related to the use of technology. However. Issues that arose included the following: a clash between student expectations regarding feedback and error correction and what the teachers were able to do. The project also showed how crucial tutor support is – even in contexts where students are expected to take control of at least some of their own learning. While these objectives had been clear in the team’s thinking when they were developing the activities. collaborative language learning. in press). However. both in terms of the quantity and quality of language produced as well as those relating to meaningful interaction. Finally. tutor role and problems with the technology. student and teacher workload. Another issue that arose was that students were not always clear why they were doing particular tasks. Students were not used to working with one another and a five-week course proved to be insufficient to prepare students to co-construct knowledge and learn collaboratively. These concerned actual technical problems such as insufficient bandwidth . Furthermore. students need to be comfortable with the technology as well as motivated to use it. The study showed that there is a potential correlation between different tools and learning preferences and that each tool can be combined with the right task to further a particular style of learning (Stickler & Hampel. Instead of working together. providing students with a collaborative environment and giving them scope in organizing their own learning did not prove to be sufficient. students tended to divide up the tasks and prepare input individually. The initial aim of CyberDeutsch had been learner-centred. this applied to only a small number of students.

g. 2009): Instructions/guidelines/time management ground rules for synchronous participation specify timescale for activities signposts to key aspects of reading material responses to individual postings clearly signalled closing stage Forums and other tools clear guidance on (minimum) expected frequency of participation separate forums for each task and separate strands for technical help and general issues not related to specific tasks opportunities for individual to individual communication easy access to instructions for use of less familiar tools (e. Collaborative teacher training project The rationale for this second project was to explore further what had proved to be the lynchpin in the previous study: collaborative learning. and the UOC’s expertise with asynchronous teaching and with training tutors in supporting students asynchronously. and highlights the importance of developing learners’ digital literacy skills (see Hauck. In their feedback. It was carried out jointly with the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) in 2008. namely the Open University’s experience in teaching via synchronous audio conferencing and delivering tutor training in that context.. the wiki) opportunity to experiment with new tools before beginning required task . this volume). The latter in particular has to be taken into account when designing technology-mediated tasks. with the two institutions bringing together their expertise in online learning. participating teachers summarized what was most crucial for them in terms of using the Moodle tools successfully (Ernest et al.Task Design for a VLE in a Distance Language Course 139 and server downtime as well as students’ lack of familiarity with the tools.

1 Task framework Design feature Description 1 Goal 2 Input 3 Conditions The general purpose of the task. guidance and feedback.g. 4 Procedures 5 Predicted outcomes: Product Process Source: Ellis.g. e. we tried to give learners a certain amount of control in deciding how to approach the tasks. i. to practise the ability to describe objects concisely. The verbal or non-verbal information supplied by the task. pair work. Oxford: Oxford University Press.e. no planning time.g. a map.e. p. group vs. 21. e. where to find information. However. converging vs. or ‘closed’. allow for only one ‘correct’ solution. shared information. and how to communicate with one another. e. i. The ‘product’ that results from completing the task. planning time vs. When setting up both projects. The linguistic and cognitive processes the task is hypothesized to generate. diverging. (2003).1) provides a useful starting point for identifying different task features and describing how these were realized in the Open University course. or the way in which it is to be used. split vs. Table 7.140 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Collaboration and sense of community introductory activity should allow participants to introduce themselves in a non-threatening way explicit guidance for effective group formation working together with common goals (especially via asynchronous tools) synchronous sessions to build a sense of community and move decision-making forward. to provide an opportunity for the use of relative clauses. 21) task framework (see Table 7. Task-based language learning and teaching. pictures.g. in both studies the subjects stressed the importance of ground rules. Design In terms of individual tasks. Ellis’s (2003. . The predicted product can be ‘open’. a list of differences between two pictures. a completed table. allow for several possibilities. e. The way in which the information is presented.g. a route drawn in on a map. written text. e. The methodological procedures to be followed in performing the task. p. signposts.g. e. R.

2). pragmatics. phonology. discourse. communication between learners in the interactive tasks would provide . from puzzles and games to everyday service encounters.or high-stakes requirement. yet they allow students to assess their own learning. to encourage as many learners as possible to engage with the tasks. as well as on vocabulary. to cover all areas of the syllabus. it was clear that the task instructions would have to include some of the functions that the teacher and peers have in face-to-face settings. number of input sources used). on frequency and saliency. some of Oxford’s (2006) dimensions for analysing tasks complement Ellis’s list: task types.g. They are cognitively relatively simple. 4 Teacher factors These include different task roles for teachers as well as the support teachers give to learners. to appeal to different learning preferences. thus giving extra support in scaffolding the learning. We included a wide range of tasks in order to focus on meaning but not neglect form. sociolinguistics. to include social and cultural dimensions by focusing on communication and reflection. complexity (linguistic and cognitive). Linguistic complexity depends. a task component (e. and teacher and learner factors (see Table 7. e. and to foster digital literacy. and – in the case of CALL and CMC – an interactive system component. importance of task (low or high stake). Cognitive Cognitive complexity involves a person component (use of cognitively simple or complex constructs). Based on our experience with distance education in general and the findings from the pilot projects in particular. vocabulary and the basic subject matter taught in the course and which students can do on their own. morphosyntax. It was also decided that the online tasks that focus on meaning and interaction between learners should be complemented by quizzes which cover grammar.2 Additional dimensions of the task framework Design feature 1 Task types Description 141 2 Importance of task 3 Complexity: Linguistic These range from simple information-gaps to complex role-plays and simulations. They can involve simple skills as well as multiple skills. 5 Learner factors These include different task roles for learners as well as individual learning styles.Task Design for a VLE in a Distance Language Course Table 7. In addition. Tasks can be perceived as a low. In addition to this.g.

maps. articles.g. involving simple skills as well as multiple skills • individual tasks (e.3 gives an overview of how Ellis’s and Oxford’s features were realized in the design of our online tasks. in the blogs) and discussions (e. tasks where students comment on each other’s writing (e. Table 7. interaction) • collaboration • building a sense of community • reflection • development of electronic literacy (use of tools.3 Realization of Ellis’s and Oxford’s task features in online design Design feature 1 Goal Online realization of task features • multifold • development of communicative skills (language use. blog postings).g. sharing of information or experience.g. information gathering via web searches) • interactive tasks (e. other students’ contributions e. web searches. from individual tasks (e. The idea is to gradually develop learner autonomy (alongside technical literacy). discussion questions. with individual tasks leading to interactive tasks • games • mostly low-stake tasks • some activities feed into the assessment and are therefore higher-stake tasks • mix of input genres (websites. surveys. in forums. through wikis).142 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology scaffolding in a more conventional way – albeit in an environment that is less familiar to many students. and to move from highly structured activities to more open ones where learners would take control. web searches) • adding topicality to printed course materials • preparation for assignments • mixed. interviews) • often. discussions. tables for information gathering. photos) and audio • move from tasks with more specific input to tasks that rely more on learner input (Continued) 2 Task types 3 Importance of task 4 Input . in the forum) to more collaborative ones where students would co-construct their own knowledge (e. survey questions.g.g.g. presentation.g. blogs and wikis) • variation in modality (mainly written but also images (e. tasks were linked throughout a study week. that is.g. Table 7.

g.g. the world of work. lower complexity in web searches to higher complexity in discussions and collaborative knowledgebuilding activities) • high cognitive complexity in terms of system component (Moodle.3 Continued Design feature 5 Conditions Online realization of task features • shared information • split. including group participant. distributed activities for cooperation and collaboration • linguistic complexity appropriate to B1–B2 level • language varieties as spoken in Germany. blogs.Task Design for a VLE in a Distance Language Course Table 7.g. art. World Wide Web) • individual activities • group activities (mainly within tutor groups. researcher. e.g. media. surveys. self-evaluator and task-analyser • range of tasks aimed at catering for individual learning styles 7 Procedures 8 Predicted outcomes: Product Process 9 Teacher factors 10 Learner factors Goal Naturally.) • higher order mental processes. following the course calendar • timing: specific week is recommended (to fit in with course) but activities are usually open-ended • new information and knowledge (individual or shared via forums. across all ten tutor groups) • linear progression. the design of the online tasks was predetermined by the course of which they formed part – a course at CEFR exit level B2 that is taught at a distance and combines language and content (covering the topics of society. religion and . e. assessment-related) more detailed and structured feedback required • mix of task roles. commenting etc. evaluation of information available on the World Wide Web • sharing of information and experience • developing a sense of community • teacher task roles limited (e. surveys or wikis) • discussions (forum) • use of language (for discussing. giving encouragement and some support) • in some tasks (e. Austria and Switzerland • various forms of discourse 143 6 Linguistic Complexity: Cognitive • varied cognitive complexity in terms of task component (e.g. describing. but some activities.

a crucial goal in twenty-first century education (see also Lankshear. Solomon & Schrum. discussions of course topics.144 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology philosophy. are designed for writing practice and asynchronous group discussions (mainly about academic issues related to the course content but leaving space for social interaction as well). The tasks also have socio-affective goals. Forums. also giving students the chance to reflect before communicating and ‘rehearsing’ oral communication. and interviews. 1997. aiming to bridge the physical distance between students and contribute to group building. Wiki tasks are designed to get students to collaborate and construct knowledge together. Knobel & Searle. In order to encourage students to participate in the online activities – which like all other parts of the course apart from the summative assessments are voluntary – some tasks prepare students for individual assignments. Warschauer. 1999). namely interaction with other students. Task types In terms of skills development. 2003. the online tasks aim at compensating for what is difficult to achieve in distance learning. Lankshear & Knobel. and recent history). So while individual tasks around content and language are included. the idea is that blogs will contribute to creating a community amongst students. Role-plays have generally been avoided in order to give the learners the opportunity to voice their own opinions and build on their own experience. So the goals combine the development of linguistic skills (with an emphasis on communication and collaboration – something the other parts of the course cannot provide) with the construction of knowledge (thus also adding topicality to the printed course materials and the DVD-ROMs that have a life span of up to 10 years). Specific goals also relate to the use of individual tools. The task types used are varied and include sharing of information or experience. the tasks are designed to promote electronic literacy. Gee. Finally. Blogs too aim at writing practice but with students adopting a more reflective and personal stance. interactive tasks predominate. thus giving the . 2007. for example.

the smaller sub-tasks can combine to form one or two larger tasks per study week.g. Often. encouraged to research an aspect of an assignment topic and can then share and discuss this information in a forum or in a synchronous meeting via video/audio conference. and skills for all elements of the course. Some such tasks are given the status of formative parts of the assignments and tutors are asked to give individual and/or group feedback on these formative tasks. it was decided to link some of them to the assessment to make them higher-stake tasks and give students another incentive to participate. Input The input that the tasks have been designed to provide is varied and combines verbal and visual modalities. It ranges from links to websites . In terms of linguistic skills and content knowledge. text types. As these tasks are quite closely related.Task Design for a VLE in a Distance Language Course 145 tasks a greater personal relevance. tasks need to fit into the larger course of which they form part. functions. discussion of information in a forum or Elluminate. Since the online tasks are integrated closely with the materials that the students study in the rest of the course. Importance of tasks As the online activities make up quite a substantial part of the course. For this reason. the online activities were part of the course design right from the beginning. collate materials in their own online space and reflect on the course. for example. blogs give students the chance to share more personal information in connection with the course topics. students have the opportunity to discuss issues arising from the course materials with one another in the forums. information gathering online) feed into interactive tasks (e.g. or collation in a wiki). and wikis allow them to collate further and perhaps more up-to-date information on topics covered elsewhere. and the syllabus was developed to include information on content. Students are. and make up a set of tasks around one topic. individual tasks (e.

colloquial. They therefore include materials from different German-speaking countries and combine inputs and outputs of different complexity (oral. they are asked not only to post a contribution on their own blog but also to comment on some of the other learners’ blogs. discourse. and similar wordings tend to be used across the course. morphosyntax. when students work with their blogs. survey questions and task instructions for blogs and wikis. The instructions that are provided for every task follow a consistent pattern and – based on the results from one of the pilot studies – include information about the learning objectives. Conditions Task conditions are simple: most tasks are based on shared input (in the case of forum or blog activities). literary etc. In turn.). The task instructions include some quantitative information about the expected output.146 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology that offer either content information (thus expanding the other course materials) or language support (e. . online dictionaries or tools such as WordChamp) to preset discussion questions in forums. phonology. On top of this. For example. the vocabulary. academic. Linguistic complexity In terms of linguistic complexity. In order to support students. instructions in German are kept simple. student contributions then provide input for other learners. written.g. students are exposed to instructional language that includes computer and internet-related vocabulary. and pragmatics in the online activities are aligned with the syllabus of the overall course which reflects the linguistic skills required at CEFR B1–B2 level. thus giving the students an idea of what was expected of them. The online tasks also cover a range of regional language varieties and discourse genres. Students are also provided with an online glossary which explains computer terminology in English and they are encouraged to collaboratively generate their own course glossary. only some of the wiki tasks require students to choose one aspect and cooperatively share out the work.

it was decided to give students a less demanding introduction into working online by including preparatory activities in English prior to the start of the course. In terms of the system (computers. it is also affected by the learners’ level of electronic literacy. and . a wiki page). Moodle. tools are introduced one at a time (starting with forums and choice surveys in unit 1. The idea of scaffolding – crucial in the findings of the pilot projects – is thus not only applied to the content and the language. Also. They range from web searches which are characterized by relatively low complexity to discussions and knowledge-building activities with higher complexity. blogs in unit 2. These consist of a brief introduction to the website and its tools and resources as well as a forum activity which involves students in each tutor group introducing themselves in order to get to know one another and start developing a sense of community. from individual activities to group activities.g. WWW). the design of the tasks aims at gradually increasing the cognitive complexity. a forum message) to more complex products (e. Easy navigation via the study planner is also deemed crucial for students who are not familiar with Moodle (and who are in the majority) and activities and resources are labelled clearly and consistently. starting with tasks in the earlier units which feature simpler vocabulary and syntax. In order to avoid overloading students in terms of cognitive complexity. and wikis in unit 3) to allow learners to familiarize themselves with each tool before moving on to the next one. In order to help students. Tasks move from single to multiple inputs and from shorter and easier outputs (e. but also to the tools. thus gradually increasing in cognitive complexity. following the progression of the course.g. and more basic input and output genres. the cognitive complexity is again varied: while it partly depends on the tools. Procedures The procedures include a range of methodological options for implementing the tasks. The activities are linear.Task Design for a VLE in a Distance Language Course Cognitive complexity 147 The cognitive complexity of the tasks varies depending on the task type.

including forum and wiki instructions. Learner factors The design of the online activities aims to give learners a range of task roles. questioning. The main roles are as follows: group participant in . Only in some tasks – including all those relating to assessment or when a new tool is introduced – are tutors required to give more detailed and structured feedback. learners are given maximum flexibility to engage with them whenever it suits them. by keeping the activities open for the duration of the course. completed surveys. In terms of the process. Predicted outcomes: product and process Predicted outcomes in terms of the product include the construction of new knowledge. they are given advice as to how to moderate these activities and provide feedback in the form of tutor notes. either individually or jointly though forum discussions or in the form of blog postings and comments. Teacher factors Because the university’s tutor contracts only allocate a limited number of hours to tuition beyond giving feedback on assignments and running tutorials.148 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology are located in specific weeks so a critical number of students will engage with them (particularly important for group activities). commenting). In order to manage tutors’ workload. sharing of information and experience. synthesis and evaluation. and the development of higher order thinking skills such as analysis. For example. the teachers’ input into the online tasks is relatively minor. describing. and information collated in the wikis. However. The interactive and collaborative tasks are also intended to contribute to students developing a sense of community. It is envisaged therefore that the tutors’ role consists of providing more general encouragement and support. predicted outcomes include the use of language (for discussing. all activities on the Moodle website are pre-prepared by the course team.

researcher on the World Wide Web.Task Design for a VLE in a Distance Language Course 149 discussions. The design was informed by several pilot studies that pointed out the value of scaffolding activities in terms of content. a learning strategies forum). One of the roles that is crucial for distance learners is that of the autonomous learner. the development of the online tasks has illustrated the limitations of academic course design and the impact of institutional regulations and circumstances. interaction in language learning. and tools. interaction and collaboration. and the importance of allowing students to develop a sense of community. student expectations are managed by highlighting the importance of learner–learner communication and of focus on meaning over form. Both pilot studies that preceded the course at the centre of this chapter had shown the importance of tutor support (see also Belz. In addition. and closed tasks with more focus on form for learners with a more analytic learning style. The range of tools and the multimodal environment also lends itself to catering for individual learning styles (see above). Student control is developed further through student-created content without course team or tutor input (the above-mentioned course glossary for German words and expressions. self-reflective and independent activities for those who are more introverted. the potential of specific tools appealing to particular learning styles. Conclusion This chapter has shown how a theoretical approach focusing on the importance of three factors. Thus the tasks include interactive ones for students with a more extroverted learning style. learner support through scaffolding. In order to develop this kind of autonomy. and mediation by the computer. and self-evaluator of their own learning. At the same time. 2003). namely. students are provided with more scaffolding initially (with the help of instructions and other input). this is then gradually reduced so students can work more independently – both by themselves and with others. can feed into the pedagogical design of online tasks in a blended distance language course. Yet limited . collator of knowledge.

0 tools that are based on a decentralized and anti-linear style of teaching and learning. that of procedure. First. it seems appropriate to end by considering the question whether the fact that these tasks are online has a fundamental impact on task design. there is the additional mediation . while also using Web 2. Experience in a distance education context and with a student population that is hugely diverse in terms of age. De Laat and Scheltinga (2004) point out. has shown how crucial student support is. which means examining the implementation of the tasks in the virtual learning environment. that is. These include the apparent conflict between adopting a centralized approach to task design that presupposes a linear format. current VLEs tend to support cooperative rather than collaborative learning goals and are more aligned to a guided learning approach than an approach based on action learning or experiential learning. The focus in this chapter has been on the approach and design of online tasks only. the development principles described here can be applied to other settings. electronic literacy. While the online tasks at the centre of this chapter are located in a particular context. The suggested answer is ‘yes’ for a number of reasons. but further research is being carried out on the third level of the task development model. The number of distance courses is growing and an increasing number of institutions are introducing online courses or blending more conventional courses with online elements.150 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology resources in terms of tutor hours meant that tutor support had to be heavily complemented by certain task features such as precise instructions and linear navigation. that of one higher education provider specializing in distance learning. It also shows the impact of the environment used – as De Graaf. backgrounds. The chapter has also raised some interesting questions around task-based language learning and teaching using a VLE that need further discussion. Considering the fact that the starting point for this chapter was a definition of tasks and a task framework that were developed in conventional face-to-face classrooms. thus creating greater learner autonomy.0 more extensively. the use of the tasks by students. The question is how we provide this support while at the same time making use of the potential of Web 2. and learning skills.

Linguistic perspectives on the development of intercultural competence in telecollaboration. M. R. M. In C. M. J. A. Doughty. et al. P.Task Design for a VLE in a Distance Language Course 151 by the electronic medium..-W. & Swain. 23–46). Applied Linguistics. . 7(3). 18(1). tasks have to be developed in a way that incorporates into the materials much of what the teacher does in the face-to-face classroom in terms of support to provide the necessary scaffolding. Ellis. 1(1). Hopkins. This means that greater cognitive effort is required of the learners and that they have to be technologically more literate than in a face-to-face classroom context. N. Online teacher training: Collaborating in a virtual learning environment. At the same time. Heiser. 7(2).. especially in distance settings. 50–80.. Hampel. (2003). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. 9–12 September 2009. & Long. F. What we know about CSCL and implementing it in higher education (pp. Learner contributions to task design. ReCALL. M. (2009).. S. to co-construct knowledge and focus on the process of learning rather than the product. H.. Candlin & D. 201–219). Canale. new technologies have the potential to transform task-based language learning and teaching. (1980). there is a greater necessity to focus on socio-affective aspects of learning when students communicate solely or mainly online and when much of this interaction takes place using asynchronous tools. Murphy (Eds). Task-based language learning and teaching. P. J. P. L. C. Murphy. Kirschner & R. Breen. Language Learning and Technology. M. Thirdly. 105–121. 1–47. Paper presented at EUROCALL 2009 Conference. (2006). Hampel. tasks. (2003). References Belz. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lancaster & London: Lancaster University. Ernest.. 68–99. R. Language Learning & Technology. De Laat. L. (2004). and constraints. Gandía.. & Scheltinga. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. In J. Strijbos. by bringing students together to communicate and collaborate. Optimal psycholinguistic environments for distance foreign language learning. A. Language learning tasks (pp. H.. R. (1987). Guitert Catasús. F.. CSCL-Ware in practice: Goals. M. (2003). Martens (Eds). De Graaf.. R. Rethinking task design for the digital age: A Framework for language teaching and learning in a synchronous online environment. Secondly (as in the design of conventional distance materials).

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First. the task-based teaching competence development of inservice student teachers has been analysed on the basis of their own reflections on their classroom teaching. In a similar vein. Bygate. We will argue that standards-based reflective practice in e-portfolios can enhance the development of teaching competencies. We will present the results of this analysis to identify how the development of TBLT competencies can be improved through the use of e-portfolios. 498). 337).Chapter 8 Teacher Development. In this research project. Norris and Van den Branden (2009) identify teacher development as the ‘lynchpin for progress of the TBLT enterprise’ (p. Furthermore. In responding to these claims. this chapter explores the role of technology in supporting teaching development – in this case. TBLT and Technology Thomas Raith and Volker Hegelheimer Introduction Ellis (2003) argues that the ‘case for including an introduction to the principles and techniques of task-based teaching in initial teachertraining programmes is a strong one’ (p. using electronic or e-portfolios to develop the task-based language teaching (TBLT) competencies of student teachers. In the last section of the chapter we will concentrate on how to put TBLT reflective practice using e-portfolios into practice. . we will discuss the role of e-portfolios in foreign language teacher education. we will explore what competencies a teacher needs to put TBLT into practice by introducing a process which has been developed in the context of a large-scale qualitative research study.

this can be lesson plans. With the rapid change of the internet and the advent of Web 2. For this reason. often with a community of peers (Strudler & Wetzel. reflections on teaching. Those texts are then interpreted by the learner or cooperatively with an instructor or other peers. and fully realized only through reflective writing. Because portfolios consist of different text modes and because the collected artefacts are connected to each other in a network. 2005. 1996. p. 2005. p. In teacher education. In portfolios. 37). p. deliberation. audio files or learner products. student teachers take responsibility for their own learning process and share their learning experiences. Wetzel & Wilhelm. Williams. A survey of schools. 2004).e. using web-based e-portfolios seems to be a natural way of implementing educational portfolios. The new opportunities of computer-mediated communication (CMC) resulted in a shift from hard copy to electronic portfolios (Bartlett. Purves (1996) discussed this in detail and came to the conclusion that using e-portfolios seems to be ideal to put the idea of reflective learning into practice. 135). technical and theoretical limitations (Purves. 2002. 2005. and conversation’ (Shulman. An educational portfolio can be defined as a ‘structured documentary history of a set of coached or mentored acts of teaching. colleges and departments of education in the United States found that 89 per cent reported that they used portfolios for some type of assessment (Strudler & Wetzel. While there continues to be disenfranchised .0. videos. 1996. they can be seen as a sort of hypertext (Purves. Student teachers connect their portfolios to teaching standards and evaluate their own professional development (Strudler & Wetzel. 412).Teacher Development. p. internet access and the integration of multiple types of media) today seem to have diminished in at least some parts of the world. 412). but he still saw logistical. TBLT and Technology 155 The Role of E-Portfolios in Teacher Education Educational portfolios and hypertext Portfolios are widely used in teacher education. One typical feature of portfolios is that learners collect different kinds of artefacts to document their learning process. 412). p. 142). those limitations (i. substantiated by samples of student portfolios. p. 1998.

Web 2. But although video helps to reflect on lessons in a more objective perspective. free software. These tools can be used individually or combined in an online learning community with integrated weblogs and discussion boards (Herrington.156 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology groups. To make the most of reflection on action. it is important to base reflections in a portfolio on more than just subjective data from self-observation. Video creates a separation between our teaching and viewing selves and allows us to ‘watch ourselves teaching with the kind of objectivity that is usually possible only when we are viewing someone else’ (Bailey et al. Furthermore. The integration of video and feedback from a mentor or peer can help to base reflections on a more complete and objective database. Richards & Farrell. Using educational portfolios helps to initiate and guide such processes of informed reflective practice. Curtis & Nunan. weblogs and online communities make it easy to publish multi-modal texts (Barrett. Kervin & Ferry. Analysing videotaped lessons therefore enhances the reflective process and can support the professional development of teachers. p. 2001. 44). 2008). reflective practice is a central aspect in the professional development of teachers (Gilpin. 2001. Gwyn-Paquette and Tochon (2002) showed .0 tools such as wikis. p. 114). 13. the use of standards to guide the reflective process makes sure that professional development is consistent with the requirements of the given educational context. E-portfolios and reflective practice According to research in the field of teacher education. Only a reflective analysis of critical incidents can change classroom practice and lead to professional development (Bailey. Such development can either happen as reflection in action during the teaching. 2006). Herrington. the ability to analyse critical incidents in teaching and to understand them in relation to relevant theory can be seen as a core competence of a teacher as a reflective practitioner. With such access. it cannot be a substitute for reflective conversations and reflective feedback from a supervisor. high-speed access to the internet is relatively common. Therefore.. 2005. or as reflection on action when teachers reflect on their practice in retrospect. p. p. 1999. 118). user-generated content is easy to create with internetbased.

Makinster. which describes competent teacher action using ‘can-do-statements’. What is needed is a theoretical knowledge base for reflection which helps teachers to define the fields of development and to make decisions about how to change their teaching practice. 2000). Johnson. 2006). TBLT and Technology 157 in a qualitative study that student teachers who have had the opportunity to reflect on their lessons with the help of a mentor were more likely to develop teaching skills than student teachers who reflected on their lessons only on the basis of their own observation. those components alone are not enough to develop competencies in specific areas of teaching practice. A change of teaching practice is likely to happen only if the analytical reflection has reference to a theoretical knowledge base about relevant theories of foreign language teaching (Freeman & Johnson. Richards.. They offer the opportunity to ground reflections in relevant theory and to make sure that all relevant fields of development are considered in the reflective process.. Barab. 1998). This reference to a theoretical knowledge base can be supported by introducing standards of language teaching. Freeman. with the aid of digital technologies the role of a third perspective can also be introduced via an online community. One of the results was that the student teachers saw the most effective support for professional development in the web-supported community because it created a shared identity which helped teachers to engage in reflection and feedback (Makinster et al. Standards and reflective practice in TBLT contexts Several studies have shown how reflective practice can be put into practice in foreign language teacher education (Farrell. However. a web-based community of peers and the feedback of a supervisor (Herrington et al. asynchronous discussion forums and a web-supported community of teachers.Teacher Development. 2006). Harwood and Andersen (2006) compared reflective processes between private journals. However. However. 1998. reflective practice does not automatically occur when teachers reflect on their classroom behaviour. 2002. 1998. 2007. . self-reflection. Richards. 1991. An advantage of e-portfolios can be seen in the possibility of integrating video.

One of the findings was that most teachers (16 out of 17) said that working with standards-based e-portfolios ‘had helped them in their preparation to become a foreign language teacher’ (Luke & Britten. TBLT Standards for Reflective Practice E-portfolios can help teachers to reflect on strategies for putting TBLT into practice and to identify fields of development. They explored the role of technology in a teacher-training course.158 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Luke and Britten (2007) researched how standards-based e-portfolios could enhance a teacher education programme. 262). this is often done in an environment where other. 2007. In the . Novice teachers had to keep e-portfolios to reflect on their teaching practice. the implementation process is a different matter. because they define the role of the teacher and help participants in the process to focus on relevant issues of the targeted competencies. Standards-based reflection on teaching. and the student teachers were asked to what extent e-portfolios helped them put the standards into practice. Online communities of practice that use e-portfolios with video-based reflections can be particularly helpful for developing TBLT competencies in novice teachers. embedded in an online community of practice. 2004). it is important to base such reflections on standards which describe the expected outcome of language teaching. Although the curriculum might favour this new method. However. more traditional teaching methods are already in place. In contexts where TBLT is introduced as a new teaching approach. Those standards are the core element for online communities of practice. Lord & Lomicka. The reflections were based on required national standards. In such environments it is difficult to change classroom practice if there is a lack of best practice examples. as Luke and Britten (2007) pointed out. 2002). Electronic standards-based portfolios offer the opportunity to establish online teacher support groups as they are not limited to forms of spatial presence and can support the development of competencies in defined fields of practice (Kayler & Weller. p. 2007. is particularly helpful in a school context in which novice teachers are confronted with resistance to reform-based teaching approaches (Gwyn-Paquette & Tochon.

one dealing with the teacher playing the role of motivator and the other with supporting a task so as to trigger necessary components for language learning. although task design is essential. The role of the teacher in the task as process When describing what teachers are able to do when they put TBLT into practice.Teacher Development. 175) divides this teacher’s role during the task as process into two central aspects: (a) motivating the learner to invest intensive mental energy in task completion. which are believed to be central to (second) language learning. TBLT and Technology 159 following sections we will show what such standards for TBLT can look like and how they can support the development of teaching competencies in e-portfolios. However. the comprehension of rich input. Motivating the language learner During the task as process. 2010). For successful language learning to occur. suggesting that both aspects need specific consideration when tasks are supposed to result in language learning. In this section. we first need to look at the role of the teacher. and (b) interactionally supporting task performance in such a way as to trigger processes such as the negotiation of meaning and content. one way the teacher can motivate the language learner is to function as a facilitator who helps the learners to . Van den Branden (2006. we will explore the role of the teacher during the task as process. teachers should be able to design tasks that engage learners in the language-learning process. Breen (1987) distinguishes between designing a task for the classroom (task as workplan) and the process of working with tasks in the classroom (task as process). there is no guarantee that simply using the right tasks will trigger language-learning processes. will be discussed in greater detail. p. Both aspects. the production of output and focus on form. The standards have been developed in the context of a qualitative study on the TBLT competencies of student teachers during an internship in Germany (Raith.

2006. Furthermore. for learners who are actively involved and set goals for themselves. Real negotiation of meaning. In this phase. Referring to Breen (1987). 40). 62. p. 1996. The duty of the teacher is to awaken an interest in the task and to give the learner enough choices to negotiate ways of accomplishing the task and to set themselves goals which are relevant for them. Bogaert & Branden. During the pre-task phase. Gorp. However. Part of the explanation lies inside the learner. p. 1996. p. most important in the areas of attention. p. awareness. Dörnyei (2001) suggests that sustaining learner . this role includes encouraging learners towards task completion. 2002. Willis. only takes place if the task engagement of the learners is leading to task completion (Avermaet. 40). Only if learners see the relevance of being engaged in the task from the start. Dörnyei (2001) suggests that only by including the learners in decision-making and goal orientation will the success of the learners improve (Dörnyei. 125). 2006. Therefore the teacher in a role as facilitator needs to motivate learners to actively engage in the task process and to develop an achievement orientation since this will most likely lead to language development (Avermaet et al.175). p. As Long (1996) puts it. 2001. the ability of the teacher to interact with the learners and to negotiate ways of solving the task will increase student motivation. Colpin. Avermaet et al. p. ‘success or failure to learn can rarely if ever be attributed to the environment alone. The students’ attitudes towards the task as process are however central for the success of language learning in the classroom. Maintaining motivation and helping them to overcome obstacles in the task process is another central role a teacher as facilitator has. which is necessary for language acquisition. and cognitive processing’ (Long. 1996. the teacher introduces the context of a task and motivates the learners to actively engage in the task process.160 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology interpret task instructions and to work on the task (Willis. (2006) describe two general attitudes of learners: the survival orientation. will they be motivated to negotiate meaning and to produce language output which will lead to language acquisition (Dörnyei. motivating learners to engage actively in working on tasks is not sufficient. 425). 178). p.. for learners who try to avoid being engaged in the task process. and the achievement orientation.

p. 2005. 2001. In order for the language-learning process to be successful it is essential that the teacher provides interactional task support during the task process. Kumaravadivelu. 26). 1991). Cameron. Harris. 27) underlines the importance of task support on the one hand and task demand on the other hand according to Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development (ZPD): A task that is going to help the learner learn more language is one that is demanding but not too demanding. p. which might not be identical with the goals set by the teacher. Several research studies have shown that the learner’s interpretations of a task influence the task as process significantly (Coughlan & Duff. p. Eckerth (2008) emphasizes that it is not the task as workplan which determines the achievement of language-learning goals. 1994. Cameron (2001. 2008. In her task-based framework. 2001. Giving interactive task support Although a good task as workplan and motivating the language learners for task completion are essential. In this way. During the task process learners face problems which cannot be foreseen. 1996. p. TBLT and Technology 161 motivation until task completion is one of the most important roles a teacher plays during the task as process (Dörnyei. p. Learners construct their own version of a task during the task as process and set their own goals. Willis. p.. An important function of the teacher’s role is to support learners in overcoming such cognitive and linguistic obstacles (Avermaet et al. 26. 2006. the teacher can guide the process of task interpretation and give the support needed by the learners. that provides support but not too much support. those ingredients are not sufficient for the success of language-learning tasks.Teacher Development. The difference between demands and support creates the space for growth and produces opportunities for learning. but how the learners interpret and put a task into action (Eckerth. 182. 41). 127). Several studies have shown how interactive support by teachers during the task process improves the language-learning outcome .

. . Can motivate learners to work intensively towards task completion and provide necessary task support. B5 . B2 . Can judge using subjective or objective data if the task leads to accomplishment of planned or unplanned language learning goals. . . . Can introduce the task in such a way that task demand and task support are balanced and that students actively participate during the task. . Van den Branden. 2000. . A3 . .162 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology (Avermaet et al. . . B4 . Can judge to what extent goals of intercultural learning were reached. . . Model for task-based teaching competencies The standard model of task-based teaching competencies in Table 8. 190. Can judge to what extent the selection of content (including texts and materials) supported interaction (processes). C2 . 618. Can support task processes so that formal aspects are noticed. C6 . In particular. 1997. . . . Can judge if the time allotment was appropriate. p. Can pose tasks in such a way that students can set goals for themselves and actively participate during the task. B6 . C4 . Can support the task process in such a way that processes leading to comprehension of meaningful content are supported. the task in process is the focus of interest. A2 . . Can support the task process so that processes of negotiation of meaning and content can be supported. A Introducing tasks: Motivating the language learner B Interactionally supporting task performance C Evaluating task as process . . Can judge to what extent a methodology of social interaction was appropriate. . p. C5 . B1 . .. . expected result and the steps towards task completion are clear and understandable for the students. . . since the goal is Table 8. Can judge learners’ participation in meaningful language interactions. . . 437). p. 2006. B3 . C3 . Can explain tasks so that the purpose. C1 . . Can motivate learners through positive feedback during the task in process. .1 Standards-based model of task-based teaching competencies A1 . . .1 is meant to give a framework of what task-based teaching entails. . . Can support task processes to encourage relevant processes of language production.

the standards for TBLT have been developed in the context of a teacher-training programme in Germany. the model can serve as a basis of reflection and discussion. Researching Student Teachers’ Reflections on Tasks As mentioned earlier. the students had to teach at their training school and attended weekly courses in classroom methodology.Teacher Development. From February 2007 to July 2008. The competence model is based on three sources of validation: the theory of TBLT. one completed at a school and one at an internship training institution. TBLT and Technology 163 to reflect tasks in real classroom contexts. In this context. the evaluation of experts and the findings of the research process. Purpose of the research study and research design In a qualitative research study. For online communities of practice. Teacher training in Germany consists of two phases: the first phase is based at a university while the second involves two internships. student teachers’ reflections on working with tasks were analysed on the basis of the standards model. the University of Education Heidelberg and the teacher training institution in Karlsruhe. both located in Baden-Württemberg. Germany. Working in close cooperation. under which the first cohort of students completed phase one with a university degree in 2006. The study is situated in the context of two teacher education institutions. competence is defined as ‘The ability to successfully meet complex demands in a particular context. we will present how student teachers’ video-based reflections on the use of tasks in their classrooms were researched. In what follows. During the internship. The purpose of the study was to find out how the student teachers developed TBLT competencies at the classroom level during the internship. the student teachers completed the internship in Karlsruhe. the two institutions developed a joint pilot curriculum for TBLT. Competent performance or effective action implies the mobilization . A deeper understanding of their reflection processes can help to analyse how e-portfolios can enhance their professional development.

the student teachers were asked to reflect on their role as a teacher in the task process. Gilpin. Therefore. 2010). we will present the results of the coding process and a summary of the conclusion. The categories of the competence model were used as codes in the analysis process. First. the central question was how the student teachers’ reflections showed aspects of the standards in the model. the interviews were analysed with the new codes (Raith. 1990. Then we will discuss how the use of technology can support the teacher in developing language-teaching competencies. which could be identified in the coding process. p. For each student teacher. and new categories were generated from the data. emotions. Those teaching diaries were used to triangulate the results of the interview analyses. The central question for this chapter is how the results of the analysis of the teachers’ reflections can contribute to a model of developing TBLT competencies through e-portfolios. In a second cycle. the student teachers had to keep a teaching diary by reflecting on lessons on a regular basis. 41). 2003. 1999.164 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology of knowledge. In addition to video-stimulated recall. and values and motivations’ (Rychen & Salganik. Richards & Farrell. 1996). 2005. two lessons were video-taped and three days after taping the lesson they were interviewed about the lessons while watching it. The coded data was clustered according to those categories. The development of competence is seen in the context of a reflective training model in which a teacher’s reflection on his/her own classroom practice is central to professional development (Bartlett. can be summarized using four . Zeichner & Liston. During the coding process of the interviews. In the interviews and teaching diaries. Levels of reflection on tasks The patterns of the student teachers’ reflections. as well as social and behavioural components such as attitudes. This multiple case study consisted of five student teachers. the student teachers’ reflections on their own lessons through videostimulated recall were the main focus of the analysis. cognitive and practical skills. particularly in terms of what they thought went well and what they would improve if they taught the lesson again.

Teacher Development. In this respect.2). Competence Level II: Judges a (sub-)task as not accomplished while taking into account the criteria for the sub-competence as described in the standards and suggests alternatives to better meet the criteria.2 Levels of task reflection Competence Level IV: Judges the (sub-) task as accomplished under consideration of criteria for partial competencies based on standards. The second set refers to the four competence levels which could be identified in the student teachers’ reflections. Competence Level III: Judges a (sub-)task as partially accomplished while taking into account the criteria for the sub-competence as described in the standards and suggests alternatives to better meet the criteria. The first set refers to the standards of task-based teaching competencies as they are described in the competence model (Table 8. The combination of these two sets can indicate which aspects of the taskbased teaching competencies occur and to what extent in the student teachers’ reflections. which are displayed in Table 8.2. and suggests alternatives. . Competence Level I: Judges a (sub-)task as not accomplished while taking into account the criteria for the sub-competence as described in the standards but does not suggest alternatives to better meet the criteria. Findings of the data analysis The results of the data analysis consist of two central data sets. the content of the student teachers’ reflections and the level of reflection they achieved. TBLT and Technology 165 different competence levels. The underlying assumption is that a reflective teacher can analyse the task as process according to taskbased principles and point out alternatives by identifying critical incidents and how those aspects could be improved. Table 8. the student teachers showed different levels of reflection. Competence Level 0: Judges a (sub-)task as not accomplished without taking into account the criteria for the sub-competence as described in the standards.

Clearly. but in these categories the students’ reflections were still on level II. The findings in category B4 (focus on form) show that many student teachers paid attention to the reflection of focus on form. but were not able to analyse it critically according to TBLT criteria and therefore did not even reach level I. it is important to create an awareness of the importance of processes of interaction . Unfortunately. Infrequent competence categories Balancing task demand and task support (A2) was indicated infrequently by the students. as was ‘Supporting processes of interaction and negotiation of meaning’ (B1). Category B6. selection of input. Noticeably. the student teacher who reflected positive feedback mostly did so when s/he was able to give positive feedback. and therefore could be classified as level III. because interaction has been linked to language acquisition. The least reflected category was positive feedback (B5). and C4. the occurrence of interaction has to be analysed.166 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Frequent competence categories The most frequently occurring competence category in the student teachers’ reflections was introducing the task in the classroom so that the learners understand the purpose and procedure of the task (A3). This finding makes a positive development in the field improbable. fewer participants reflected on whether interaction in which meaning generation occurred took place in the classroom. motivating learners for task completion. The second most reflected category was the ability to support language production (B3). because the student teachers tended not to realize an absence of positive feedback. This indicates that an awareness of positive feedback has to be encouraged externally. which is an essential task-based teaching competence. Summary of the study The study participants placed a high value on communicating in the target language and were able to reflect on this aspect so that further development in this area can be expected. follow with some distance. To evaluate whether a lesson has been successful or not.

embedded in an online community of practice. When they do not reflect on some categories. Task-Based Teaching Standards and E-Portfolios The role of feedback in the reflective process As the findings of the study have shown. can play an important role in this process (Raith. Those findings suggest that professional development in important areas of TBLT only occurs if the task-as process is reflected systematically. such as task demand and task support.Teacher Development. we can identify two basic concepts of professional learning: training and development (Richards & Farrell. 2005. What is largely missing in the reflections is the process that occurs between the explanation of the task and the execution of the task. some aspects of the task as process have been considered more thoroughly than others by the student teachers. but it shows that they are not able to apply it to their classroom practice. Moreover. E-portfolios. Furthermore. TBLT and Technology 167 for the learning of a second language (L2) during the student teachers’ pre. in some categories the reflections showed that even if they analysed critical incidents. they were not based on sound knowledge of TBLT theory. 3). . 2010). Furthermore. the categories of reflection were not given to the student teachers when they were asked to analyse their lessons. This does not necessarily mean that those student teachers do not know the theory. The results show that a more guided reflection process is needed to support the development of TBLT competencies.and in-service training. targeted further development of TBLT competencies for the task as process requires targeted reflections which cover all areas of competencies. a development of task-based competencies remains unlikely. In the research process of the study. or the reflections are not grounded in relevant theory. or task as process. it is this occurrence of interaction which serves as an important criterion for the evaluation and development of one’s teaching in a task-based way. In teacher education. p. What is needed here is a strategy of guided reflection on the educational process. the realization of formal aspects of the task-based approach was practically absent. Hence.

Although the teacher education institution researched in the study follows an approach of training and development through reflective practice. 4). E-portfolios can help to implement such an approach. however. . The main limitations are spatial and temporal.. 4) This statement supports the findings of the study that individual reflection does not necessarily lead to professional development in every competence field. Professional development. pedagogical expertise.168 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Training is a top-down process of learning how to teach and is transmitted through lectures and a curriculum covering major aspects of teaching. it can include exploration of new trends and theories in language teaching. Teacher development normally includes features of reflective practice and sees this reflection as the core element for change and improvement (Bailey et al. p. a link between top-down teaching of relevant knowledge on TBLT and individual reflection – a process that is grounded in a knowledge of task-based theory. should go beyond personal and individual reflection. many cannot. 2001. therefore. and understanding of curriculum and materials. and the feedback of a supervisor (Herrington et al. For example. (Richards & Farrell. 2005. reflection on an individual level is not enough: . a web-based community of peers.. Development refers to a bottom-up process and it ‘serves a longer-term goal and seeks to facilitate growth of teachers’ understanding of teaching and of themselves as teachers’ (Richards & Farrell. such as subject-matter knowledge. 44). . although many things can be learned about teaching through self-observation and critical reflection. p. . 2006). Nevertheless. 2005. the possibilities to put this into practice are limited. The implication is that e-portfolios enhance educational programmes. How e-portfolios can improve task-based teaching competencies E-portfolios have the potential to integrate video-based self-reflection. as we will discuss below. p. What is needed is the combination of training and development.

The video-enhanced critical distance also helps to reflect on aspects of the lesson which have not been the focus of observation during the lesson. Romano & Schwartz. This means. In an e-portfolio the teachers’ reflections might not include aspects that are central to task-based learning. In addition. but this time is dedicated to teaching a group of student teachers. What is needed as a central component is a theoretical knowledge base for reflection that helps teachers to define fields of development and make decisions about how to change their teaching practice. such as interaction and negotiation of meaning between the learners. Kayler & Weller. 2006. because she did not pay attention to it while teaching. Video enables teachers to create a distance between themselves and their teaching and therefore creates a greater degree of objectivity needed for critical reflection. video can be used to provide basic data for . Here a checklist or questionnaire with criteria to reflect on can help to guide the reflective cycle of the teacher. and time for individual interviews is not provided. another problem is that reflections which are based on the teacher’s memory will focus on the teacher’s perception during the lesson.Teacher Development. However. TBLT and Technology 169 The teacher education system of the state government only provides two visits of the teacher trainers at the training schools of the student teachers during the internship. For this problem. Online learning environments offer ways of enhancing reflective practice on a more practical level in teacher education programmes (Barnett. those components alone are not sufficient to develop competencies in specific areas of teaching practice. Open reflection on tasks without set criteria to reflect on can be problematic when looking at a development of TBLT competencies. Video recording for reflective practice offers opportunities for selfdirected and collaborative learning. The teacher might simply not remember some aspects which are the focus of reflection. 2005). 2007. Trainers meet in a weekly course with the student teachers. However. 2006). video can be of great help. teacher trainers have limited opportunities to support reflection on lessons through interviews. Online communities of practice provide the possibility to connect learners beyond spatial and temporal limitations (Scherff & Paulus.

This opens options. the students are supposed to videotape a lesson and analyse it according to a questionnaire which helps them to reflect on how the students managed the task as process. Luke & Britten.170 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology collaborative reflection. because video helps to create a space for critical and comprehensive reflection. The obvious advantages are that video gives a detailed documentation of a lesson and can be watched by different people at different times in different places. without having to participate at the same time or in the same place. C). In summary. Standards-based reflection on tasks in e-portfolios One important feature of e-portfolios in teacher education is that student teachers reflect on defined areas of their teaching practice. Kayler & Weller. but also time to reflect on the practice of the student teachers in study groups. criteria for TBLT are introduced to the class. 2006. particularly for educational contexts where spatial and temporal limitations might exist. Often this is done with criteria-referenced questions (Barnett. On the basis of the competence model. 2007). What we also found is that those reflections should be based on clear criteria of reflection. we can say that using video-stimulated reflections in e-portfolios can enhance professional development through reflective practice. Standards-based reflection using e-portfolios can enhance this process. In concluding this chapter. We will use the institutional context of the research study as an example and will show how in this context e-portfolios help to enhance TBLT competencies. we will identify a scenario describing how TBLT competencies can be developed through reflective practice based on standards in e-portfolios. Integrating video in e-portfolios provides opportunities to collaboratively reflect on teaching practice. B. The seminar provides theory about how to teach. Each student teacher publishes a video sequence and the written reflection of a critical incident on a weblog. 2007. we will . For each competence field (A. On the basis of the findings of the research study. The student teachers participate in a weekly class at the teachertraining seminar. and invites other student teachers and the supervisor to provide feedback.

Videography of the critical incident on a weblog Choose a video sequence of 10 to 15 minutes that shows your critical incident in context. Analysing your task introduction and student motivation (A1. Give feedback on their analyses and note down your thoughts and ideas. A2 and A3) While watching the videotaped lesson. d) To what extent does this incident help you to improve your teaching practice? What is the first step you could take in order to change? 2. Include key words as well so that it will be easier to archive and search for your entry. Write about what the meaning and significance of this incident is. Upload the video clip to your weblog and post it together with your complete reflection on the lesson. product and procedure of the task.Teacher Development. Find incidents in the video that help you to answer the questions above and write a reflective entry in which you analyse them. You can follow these steps: a) Which incidents in the lesson provide information to answer the questions? b) Describe the incidents and evaluate what happened. . c) Choose one incident you consider critical. 3. Giving feedback on other reflections Watch the video sequences of the other student teachers and read their reflections. TBLT and Technology 171 show what a workplan for such a reflection cycle could look like for competence field A of the competence model: 1. ask yourself the following questions: (A1) To what extent did the introduction of the task motivate the learners to set themselves relevant goals and actively engage in working on the tasks? (A2) To what extent was task demand and task support of the task balanced so that learners faced a motivating challenge? (A3) To what extent was I able to make the task clear to the learners so that they could understand the purpose.

further independent development in those aspects remains unlikely. It is important to make clear from the beginning. 2005. From this perspective. However.172 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology 4. 2009). The student teachers are lead to systematically reflect on their teaching on the basis of task-based criteria. The reflections of the student teachers have shown that if important aspects of TBLT are not included in sufficient detail. 1999) can increase their level of reflection (Raith. Even individual reflective practice using videos of teachers does not provide a guarantee that teachers acquire competencies in all areas of TBLT. how the analyses of the weblogs will be evaluated and graded. Working in such a support group is ‘usually more effective than working on one’s own’ (Richards & Farrell. 51). What typical pattern of critical incidents do you see? What makes it difficult to introduce tasks and motivate students? What further steps do you want to take to improve your teaching? This example illustrates how e-portfolios can enhance criteria-referenced reflections on the task process. Writing a post about what you have learned Write a post on your weblog about new insights you gained on the topic. it appears that reflective practice guided by specific criteria. which are based on standards-based . the student teachers can identify critical incidents and point out alternatives for future development. this aspect is important to develop TBLT competencies in every competence field. teachers do not acquire task-based competencies solely through theoretical approaches. p. All of this can be achieved even in contexts where spatial and temporal institutional restraints are a problem. The role of the supervisor is to set the tasks for the student teachers and to be a facilitator of the reflective process. According to the findings of the research study. Analysing videotaped lessons helps them to see their teaching practice from some distance and observe aspects they would not pay attention to during the lesson. Conclusion As can be seen from the results of the qualitative study by Raith (2010). Writing their reflection in the context of a community of practice (Wenger.

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City Editor of The Edubba Sun. Before taking one of an endless stream of phone calls. Edubba not only continues to provide a fully implemented model of virtual reality (VR) and virtual world (VW) approaches (Kingsley & Wankel. requests a little personal information by way of logging users into the programme and issues an intern’s ‘press card’. but also demonstrates the feasibility and educational promise of employing natural language processing to mediate authentic pedagogical tasks. an electronic news organization. While the research we report was conducted in 2000–2001. who offers the user a position as an intern reporter. The research prototype has not been commercialized. Clicking on a door leads them inside for a hurried meeting with Eddie Chang. This invites interns to jump into a waiting taxi and take a wryly narrated tour of places and characters in a virtual city that will be part of their daily English language learning experience for the next four to six weeks. 2009) to creating authentic content for language learning. This chapter presents a case study of an intelligent CALL (ICALL) prototype entitled Edubba. was developed to the point where it could be studied comprehensively in the field.Chapter 9 Edubba: Real-World Writing Tasks in a Virtual World Kenneth Reeder Introduction Visitors open a CD-ROM to be offered a short helicopter ride onto the rooftop landing pad of a city’s office tower. The chapter draws its observations in part from that implementation. Edubba therefore continues to be of significance to VR/VW and ICALL developers alike. Eddie points to a story lead sitting on his desk. describing our effort to create authentic tasks drawn from professional journalism rather than from language pedagogy. . but rather.

1998. In describing Edubba’s instructional design. This program meets Goal 2. (Hooper & Reeder. testing it along with Long’s notions of focus on form and content by critically examining the learner activities within the simulation.’ (TESOL Inc.Edubba: Real-World Writing Tasks in a VW 177 A question guiding this chapter is whether. . and provide subject matter information in spoken and written form . Standard 2 of the TESOL Pre K-12 Standards: ‘To use English to achieve academically in all content areas: Students will use English to obtain. alongside the TESOL Standards’ mention of ‘all content areas’ has theoretical implications for understanding the multiple potential for learning inherent in TBLT materials and programmes. and to what extent. can simulation software of this sort meet the standards set out in the growing literature on TBLT. 1997) Edubba’s aims conclude with this curricular claim: . is natural language processing (NLP) a promising approach to supporting authentic tasks within the TBLT framework? Edubba: Simulation Software in a TBLT Framework Edubba was designed and developed by a university-industry collaboration with these goals: This program supports the development of content-based writing and reading skills for 13–16 year old ESL/EAL learners who are at the intermediate level of English proficiency and above. . .. It also supports learning outcomes from English. This curricular claim. p. The title Edubba is a Sumerian noun referring to the buildings in which cuneiform tablets were stored. process. or more generally. . and second. exercise’ distinction. Edubba can be thought of as an example of task-based language teaching (TBLT). a ‘house of . Social Studies and Science in the British Columbia Curriculum. we consider Ellis’ (2003) useful ‘task vs. construct. The chapter concludes with two general considerations: first. . 1) We return below to the programme’s dual aims to support both the development of (non-linguistic) subject matter content and academic writing and reading.

Figure 9.178 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology learning’. The city’s leaders will hold a referendum in a month’s time to poll views about the preferred approach to ensuring a sustainable water supply. construction of a desalination plant and construction of a dam on the region’s only river. Edubba is also the eponymous simulated small city located on the west coast of North America.1. whose development is constrained by limited water resources. Four approaches are being advocated by their proponents. The proponents are listed in Figure 9. set in the near future.1 Edubba’s virtual characters . who are cast as characters in the programme: a conservation programme. drilling of artesian wells.

in what is the most innovative element of Edubba. a distributed database of selected content.2 Edubba’s conceptual design .Edubba: Real-World Writing Tasks in a VW 179 along with additional characters who provide users with further information and opinions. The first two elements are referred to as ‘The Two Realms of Edubba’ in the programme’s Teacher’s Guide since they are visible to users. users are cast in the role of intern reporters for The Edubba Sun to investigate each proposal. while the third element. In the simulation. The programme design of Edubba involves three main elements (Figure 9. Thus the virtual city of Edubba becomes a place where writing – and critical thinking – take place for its users.2): a virtual city that serves as a context for the student reporter’s research. remains transparent. and. Figure 9. Its editorial board hopes thereby that Edubba’s citizens will make informed choices in the referendum. an NLP engine (what we called ‘The Learning Engine’) which enables interaction in English between learners and the programme. NLP functionality. and report to the Sun’s readers. Each solution carries with it costs and benefits.

to which we return below in our exposition of how users interact with the programme’s assigned writing and thinking tasks. (p. or appears to approximate. The construction of an easily navigable virtual city (Figure 9.180 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology NLP functionality.eurocall-languages. while implemented only in prototype form. warrants our claim that Edubba is an early example of ICALL. Farrington (1989) offers one of the earliest definitions of ICALL: ‘Intelligent CALL’ can be fairly applied to any exercise in which an attempt is made to get the system to process language in a way that approximates.org/) places ICALL and NLP implementations for language teaching and learning solidly in the applied linguistic research and development mainstream. For a critical review of ICALL which asserts the need for theory-driven applications of NLP in support of TBLT.3 The virtual city .3) was part of a strategy to design an ICALL programme which served as a Figure 9. 69) while the emergence of an ICALL special interest group for the CALICO organization (http://purl. particularly as a means of enhancing the authenticity of language-learning tasks. to that used by human beings. see Schulze (this volume).org/calico/icall) and the NLP SIG for the EUROCALL organization (http://siglp.

to an extent. and showed that the need for . VW networking environments like Second Life. An intentionally designed. VWs for Language Learning. The question of how much context should actually support language and thinking tasks has been explored by Shortreed (1993) and Samuda and Rounds (1993) who suggest that lower context induces more sustained interaction. and the Place of Context in Language Acquisition Ellis (2003) distinguishes between language use and practice inside and outside the classroom in TBLT. The instructional design in Edubba is intended to simulate something like earlier ‘survival’ tasks employed in L2 pedagogy in immigrant language training contexts. set of experiences offers educators the opportunity to create learning tasks that embody agreed-upon sets of goals not only in terms of community survival or settlement. and to a lesser extent. coupled with a robust NLP functionality holds promise for importing a sample of world experiences into educational settings. but also in terms of linguistic and cognitive-academic growth.Edubba: Real-World Writing Tasks in a VW 181 simulation of the learner’s actual or possible world: a space in which practical problems might be addressed. Reeder and Wakefield (1987) in their studies of young children demonstrate that literate environments determine the extent to which learners use contextual support for linguistic comprehension tasks. in which learners are challenged to open a bank account or visit a housing official in the context of settlement in a host culture. reading and listening – could fairly be expected to support academic and. it eschews classroom-oriented tasks and simulates (but obviously does not actually realize) a set of experiences in which language – in this case writing. To that extent. An object-oriented VW. hence selective. The game-like quality of the graphic interface also served an important motivational purpose for this young user group: it resembled simulation games that already engaged and involved the users like the SimCity series. doing this with a greater degree of planning and coordination than is typically found in free exploration by means of web browsers. a virtual city for learning. vocational experience.

or via their role as student interns charged with completing graded story research and reporting assignments. In either mode. easily navigable city environment. Janet Singh. The active role afforded by the programme in the research process was motivated in part by research by Swain (1995) on the efficacy of what she termed ‘pushed’ output. and linking assessment processes to an approach where teachers continued to review and assess students’ written output in the form of news stories. providing individualized and incidental focus on form as needed. users interacted with characters. locales and tasks either by means of free exploration in an object-oriented. however. progress was easily monitored by the programme’s logging functionality. a young civil engineer whose consulting firm is promoting a dam project as the solution to the city’s water supply: User: Janet: User: Janet: Hi. Edubba’s designers allowed for extensive exploration of the VW while linking tasks to classroom processes such as writing conferences with peers and teachers. The central role we assigned to learner production in our programme is exemplified by the following dialogue between one of our users and a key character in the programme. What do you do? I’m not sure I understand.182 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology contextual support can be located on a developmental continuum. Can you say that again in a different way? User: What is your job? . what’s your name? I’m Janet Singh. At the same time. the primary point of engagement with the programme was through its natural language interface. in which users could query characters to obtain task-oriented as well as personal information about the character and their relationships with others in the VW. NLP and Language-Learning Tasks As noted in our description of Edubba’s design. so that the tasks deployed by way of ‘To-Do’ lists for each writing assignment were checked off and reported to users and teachers in a cumulative ‘staff report’ ostensibly by the electronic newspaper’s supervisory staff.

.) Two queries and their responses in this exchange are of particular interest to Swain’s output hypothesis. the user’s final query in the excerpt (‘Why we run . where semantically vague input strings are replaced by more informative and referentially explicit queries. of a sort that triggers interactional adjustment by interlocutors. We could actually run out of water in two years. First. shown to be a necessary condition of second language acquisition (SLA) at more advanced levels of mastery and for specific language forms (Spada. 1997). 1970). the NLP engine and users alike. Second. Finally. ?’) illustrates one of the virtues of employing a form of NLP which is lexically driven: because the NLP engine cannot parse its input grammatically. This exchange is also an example of Long’s interaction hypothesis (Long. More generally. with the result that the discourse continues with repairs in place. 451–452) in which negotiation of meaning occurs. pp. 1996. . and it returns a null response calling for a paraphrase of the original query from the user. the active role afforded Edubba’s users is supported by Polio and Gass’ (1998) work on the effectiveness of assigning learners an active role in ‘describe and do’ tasks. or can continue the dialogue. it appears to ‘hear through’ the grammatical noise to the intent of the query. While an ICALL programme . in much the same way that caregivers of young children have been shown to interact (Brown & Hanlon. User: Why we run out of water? Janet: The city of Edubba is growing and needs to find at least 50 million cubic feet or 40. the user’s well-formed but idiomatic ‘What do you do?’ is apparently not handled by the programme’s keyword-driven search strategy. (The user can click on a graphic in Janet’s briefcase that illustrates this concept. we think. this sort of null response can be conceived of as a form of negative feedback. User: Tell me about this water crisis.000 acre-feet of water. of pushed output. You can look in my briefcase to see how much water that is.Edubba: Real-World Writing Tasks in a VW 183 Janet: I’m an engineer specializing in the design of dams. Janet: There definitely is a water crisis. The fact that our user successfully created just such a paraphrase is an illustration.

cs. following Slobin (1973) who demonstrated that language learners acquired new forms in the service of prelinguistic functions. 2007. we conducted a conceptual analysis of the genres. and Halliday’s research (1975) that explicated how children’s linguistic forms emerged to serve pragmatic functions. thinking and task design. Edubba nonetheless represents a starting point to demonstrate the affordances of VWs. 2008) are similarly constrained both linguistically and pedagogically. these genres were derived from mandated local curricular goals for secondary English and social sciences. Functions. 1997) for learners in Edubba: description.184 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology that limits user production to written rather than spoken output is far from ideal. Shapiro. plus ability to assemble and weigh evidence in support of claims or propositions . field tested with L2 learners by Reeder. Following Mohan’s (1986) theoretical work on the relationships among language. the best exemplars of ASR in ICALL applications such as Project LISTEN’s (http://www.cmu. Our design drew upon theoretical relationships among language demands.1 Genre Description Analysis Evaluation Persuasion Argument Genres and thinking skills in Edubba Thinking skills Observational skills. and even now.edu/~listen/) The Reading Tutor (Mostow & Beck. generating the relationships shown in Table 9. Genre and Task Design in Edubba The design team took a functional perspective on the nature and acquisition of language. there were few demonstrations of automated speech recognition (ASR) being used to promote language learning. We designed five linguistic functions or genres (Martin.1. thinking skills and tasks to make good on our goal which Table 9. evaluation. autonomous exploration and technologically mediated linguistic interaction tools. analysis. because the programme was initially designed for public secondary schools. Early & Kendrick. persuasion and argument. attention to specific detail Classification. taxonomy Comparison and contrast of elements against equivalent criteria All of the above skills. At the time of Edubba’s development. Rather than conducting an ad hoc user needs analysis.

2007. particularly beyond the language area into other areas of the curriculum. 3. 2. Van den Branden. commentary on each learning activity in turn. We take as an example the first ‘Story Assignment’ handed to users by Eddie Chang.Edubba: Real-World Writing Tasks in a VW 185 linked the development of writing and reading skills to academic success. Ellis was one of the earliest to enumerate some specific criteria for what constitutes a task. These features were: 1. or language learning exercises as might appear in traditional ‘PPP’ pedagogical approaches. 6. . It is instructive to examine a sequence of the learning activities assigned to the student intern writers in Edubba to reflect upon the extent to which the activities exemplify characteristics of either tasks as currently understood in the TBLT discourse. In this sense. as understood within the emerging TBLT framework of the day. mathematics and social studies curricula. (Ellis. the hyperactive and harried Editor at The Edubba Sun (Table 9. we use Ellis’ formulation as a starting point from which to assess the extent to which Edubba’s learning activities possess the attributes of language-learning tasks. This leads us back to Ellis’ (2003) distinction that goes to the heart of L2 programme and course design. A task is a workplan A task involves a primary focus on meaning A task involves real-world processes of language use A task can involve any of the four language skills A task engages cognitive processes A task has a clearly defined communicative outcome. Long.2). 1997) and its earlier analogue in first-language (L1) pedagogy. 4. 2003. our instructional design exemplified a content-based instruction (CBI) approach to L2 teaching and learning (Snow & Brinton. exercise. 5. the ‘Language Across the Curriculum’ research of Barnes (1976) who examined in detail the ways in which language-mediated instruction in science. 2003. if informal. pp. How does each of these learning activities in the introductory sequence in Edubba measure up against Ellis’ criteria? Table 9.3 provides a brief. 9–10) While others (Doughty & Long. at least at the level of learning activity: task vs. 2006) offer alternative sets of criteria.

proofreading and publishing. A quick way of getting around the city to do interviews and research your story is to click on the map button and choose a location. Your job is to find out about the water crisis in the city. be sure that both of you enter your names.186 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology ‘To-Do’ list for student interns’ orientation Help notes provided You’ll learn about your new job as a student intern at The Edubba Sun. return to the street by clicking your Back arrow. Learn at least one fact about each person you meet. this is your chance to get to work on your first story. This is where you’ll gather information for the feature stories that your Editor will assign you to write. That’s where you will compose your features stories. You’ll see and hear an answer right below.2 Activity Meet my Editor Read my story leads Get my employee ID card Get my reporter’s notebook ‘To-Do’ List and Contact List Taxi Tour of the City Try the map Try interviewing some people in Edubba Progress Report A: Contact List Get my first promotion Take the afternoon off . You can keep all your notes there. Wander around the city at your leisure. It looks as if you’ve found this ‘To-Do’ List by clicking the icon showing your Editor’s photo. Now that you know your way around Edubba. your Editor will return it for more work. You’ll follow a four-step process to develop your story: pre-writing and research. For each person you meet on your tour. If you are working with a writing partner. Here’s where your step-by-step tasks are found. There have been some strange events in Edubba since plans were announced for a referendum on the different proposals to solve the water problems in the city. revising. This is your official identification. drafting. then click on the taxi. and signifies that you are a member of the Edubba Sun reporting team. To return to your taxi. Not sure of a word that someone uses when they answer your question? Click on a highlighted word to get a quick definition. or use a longer dictionary for more complete information. enter a Name and Location under the correct heading. the different proposals to solve it and the people who are promoting the different plans. In your Story tab you will find key questions to guide you in your research and writing. Enter a fact about each person under the Fact heading. Send your completed report in to your Editor for checking. Table 9. You’ll find lots of help if you need it under the Help tab. If it’s incomplete. TIP: feeling stuck in one location and can’t move? Click on the Back button in the Tools section of your screen for easy navigation. Check off each task as you complete it. Write a short question on the top line of the conversation area of your Writer’s Notebook. You can jump out at different locations shown on your map be clicking the taxi’s Exit button. Copy and paste notes to your story. Your Editor will update these lists as you are promoted on the staff. It will give readers an overview of the problems with water in Edubba and the different solutions that citizens will vote for in the coming referendum. Keep these strange events in mind when you interview different people in the city. You can also click on the taxi’s map to visit a specific location. using the Notes tab.

Contentoriented language forms. get around. as well as generic vocabulary involved in orienting to a new workplace and an urban environment. mobilized by the Editor’s ability to vet and return incomplete reports. feature story. dictionary and information. Read my story leads Get my employee The user has supplied simple personal identification information to ID card the logging system in the programme as a means of progress tracking. Editor. proofreading and publishing. research. As with the previous activity. A relatively simple reading task that requires users to comprehend short narrative accounts of recent events in the city that might have some bearing upon the theme of sustainable water supply. conversation. the metalanguage of the reporting task is embedded in specific instructions for interviewing sources. as well the promotion system as tasks are completed. answer. Get my reporter’s All language forms here are job-specific or related to generic word notebook processing functions embedded in the notebook tool: notes. dealing primarily with the concepts of sequence and motivational matters of learners’ progress through the writing process and the programme. Very context-linked navigational instructions. Again. and receives in turn an entertainingly designed Press Card as way of engaging young writers in the programme and its activities. ‘To-Do’ List and Contact List This activity informs the user of the sequencing system that will be used in the programme throughout the writing experience. drafting. In addition. Additional navigation instructions use locative terms in the context of leisure exploration rather than linguistic mastery. This activity simply previews the next fuller writing assignment’s scope. Exercise’ learning activities Activity Meet my Editor Task or Exercise? 187 Learning about a job assignment requires the user to attend to requirements of a simulated job assignment. highlighted word. metalinguistic terms such as name. and introduces the sequenced writing process that underlies each story assignment to follow: pre-writing and research. No linguistic forms apart from personal information. fact. questions. report.3 ‘Task vs. paste and help. write.Edubba: Real-World Writing Tasks in a VW Table 9. heading. definition. copy. Writer’s Notebook. is introduced. In effect. interview. revising. this provides navigation instructions for using the map utility in the programme in order to get access to characters to meet and interview to fulfil the job goals set out in the successive story assignments. field-specific vocabulary in conservation. Language requirements focus upon job-specific vocabulary: research. Taxi Tour of the City Try the map Try interviewing some people in Edubba Progress Report A: Contact List Get my first promotion Take the afternoon off . the accountability system. sustainability and urban development. tabs. involving spatial and interface language: click. The user encounters specific language of story research: question. are embedded in the broader context of research and filing working stories. This is conceptual material rather than form-focused. fact.

Metalinguistic and computer interface scaffolding is removed gradually as writers grow familiar with the NLP interface and the tools in the Writer’s Notebook and Help files. Thus a great proportion of the language entailed in this first intern reporter’s ‘To-Do’ list involves navigation instruction and suggestions. Table 9. Try to state your topic in a few words. There are lots of documents about the water crisis in different locations: click around the screen to see what you can find to help you gather facts. Compare your findings with a writing partner. An example of the reduced scaffolding and focus upon task requirements appears in the ‘To-Do’ List for the newly promoted Staff Reporters’ Story 1. Click on all its different sections. Skim-read the story starter questions. Now’s the time to plan your approach. shown in its full form in Table 9.188 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology It follows of course that an elaborate programme involving navigation and interaction with objects will require orientation instructions. copy and paste them into your story whenever you wish.4. Think about what your purpose is for writing this story. Are the facts always reliable? Good reporters and writers often crosscheck facts with other people and other documents. Don’t forget to edit these notes if you move them straight into your story. It is the case that subsequent assignments involve less instruction and more vocationally demanding language that will focus upon the thinking.4 Activity Plan Story 1 ‘To-Do’ list for staff reporters’ story 1 Help notes provided Click on the Story 1 tab to open the story template in your Writer’s Notebook. Gather facts from documents and objects Click on different objects and learn more about the facts behind the water crisis. You can select notes with your mouse. Talk to a writing partner or teacher about these questions. Use your Notes tab in your Writer’s Notebook to record what you are learning about the water crisis and the different solutions that have been proposed. Do my story research Visit locations and interview people about the water crisis. research and writing steps required for successful reporting (Ellis’ ‘engagement of cognitive processes’ and ‘real-world language processes’). though! (Continued) Make notes . You’re looking for the big picture. or an overview of Edubba’s water crisis in this story. Think about who your audience is. Be sure to get a variety of points of view. and Edubba is no exception.

Click the Help tab.Edubba: Real-World Writing Tasks in a VW Table 9. or both. This is it! You’ve submitted your first feature story for The Edubba Sun. Write a draft for Story 1 Confer with a partner or teacher Revise your draft Use Help pages Use Grammar reference Spell check Print revised draft File Progress Report B Receive your promotion Take a day off . you’ve made the grade to Senior Staff Reporter. then the Grammar tab. Learn how paragraphs are constructed. Check out the Process tab for advice on how professional writers and reporters develop and revise their reports. Can any material be moved to a more effective place in your story? Use the copy and paste tools to handle this. click the send button (it looks like an envelope). Keep working on this until your report is complete and accurate. Click on this tab after you print your story. Ask a writing partner or your teacher for advice if you’re stuck. Listen to these ideas carefully and ask your partner or teacher if they can clarify any suggestions you’re not sure you understand. Congratulations! Why not visit the beach or go hiking up the river? You deserve a break. Use suggestions and your own ideas for improvement. You don’t have to use every guiding question.4 Continued Activity Story examples Help notes provided 189 Click this button in the tools area and look at examples of news stories like the one you are writing. Correct these now. they will give you lots of ideas to investigate. and will often let a correctly spelled word that’s not the best choice go by without questioning it. Ask them to tell you one strong point and give you one suggestion for improving your draft. Confer with a writing partner or teacher. If it’s got enough detail for the Editor. Review your draft and see if you can spot any of the 20 most common errors made by writers who are learning English. and whole stories are put together. Under the Story 1 tab. but if you’re stuck. When your Progress Report is complete and accurate. Learn how to choose the types of words and phrases that express your purpose. Find the spell check button. Your Editor will check your report and return it to you if it needs more work. you’ll be asked to fill out your next Progress Report to be sure you’ve got the big picture on Edubba’s water supply problems. When you are finished. Ask yourself if you’ve given your readers enough information in your draft. use each main section in the story template to guide you. Click the Help tab in your Writer’s notebook for tips on revising your work. Ask a partner to look at your copy if you’re in doubt. Careful! Spell checkers can’t catch the wrong choice of wording. Good writers go through several revisions before they submit their work for publication or review. View these stories several different ways by using their tabs.

We bore in mind Farrington’s (1989) defining characteristic of ICALL whereby ‘an attempt is made . in their field implementation of Edubba with college-age international students. Edubba’s design team was influenced heavily by the research of Graves (1983). or appears to approximate. The realities of public education in North America. as argued by Doughty and Long’s (2003) methodological principles for TBLT. but also from ‘writing biographies’ published systematically over many years in the Paris Review. In addition. revision and polishing for publication for realistic audiences. to that used by human beings’ (p. . drafting. . revision and final publication steps inherent in professional writing. All activities focus upon taking writers through the research. 8) summarize a dual design incorporating writing process and collaborative creation: 1. is that technology will of necessity be a shared resource. p. Academic Writing in Edubba Reeder and Hart (2001). They demonstrated that writing was as much a social construction as an isolated intellectual act. The provision of writing tasks in a rough developmental sequence following the various steps of the process of writing.190 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology Notice that the only explicit form(s)-focused activities are the requirements to consult the Grammar Reference and Spell Check tools embedded in the programme. through drafting. to process language in a way that approximates. pre-writing. 2000). the work of Calkins (1986) with younger learners. 69). . the target of the simulation. particularly in urban centres’ where immigrant populations congregate. from exploratory pre-writing experience and thinking. make the point that writing in Edubba is conceived of as a collaborative process. Reeder and Hart (2001. principally Aristotle’s The Rhetoric. and Atwell (1998) with adolescent writers helped us fashion our design for writing within Edubba. who studied process variables in writing. Hart’s thesis research noted that L1 writing pedagogy and current thinking in L2 pedagogy urged collaborative approaches at all stages of the writing process (Hart. deriving pedagogical proposals in part from classical rhetorical theory.

As the ‘ “To-Do” List for Staff Reporters’ Story #1’ listed above makes clear. Revision is explicitly preceded by a writing conference with a partner or a coach. 8) They conceptualized the writing tasks involved in Edubba in the model illustrated in Figure 9. so that revision is undertaken with specific suggestions. templates for story structure that are provided and questions to generate thinking about the topic. The ‘To-Do’ list makes it clear that . Publishing Editing / revising Drafting Pre-writing In collaboration with peer editor. and cross-checking discoveries with writing partners. navigating by taxi or map. for instance. is promoted by exploration of the town.Edubba: Real-World Writing Tasks in a VW 191 Proofing. visiting specific locations and interviewing characters about the water proposals. teacher as mentor and coach. fact-gathering from embedded objects in scenes (users have a virtual ‘search warrant’ to click any object depicted).4. in short. writing partner. Figure 9. Drafting entails consultation with models of the target genre. The incorporation of a design that encourages composing in partners and editing in small groups and in conference with instructors. most tasks are keyed to this conception of writing as a process best undertaken in collaboration with both peers and experts or mentors/coaches. (p. The arrows represent the possibility of an iterative revisiting of any stage for rethinking and consequent reworking.4 The pedagogical model of writing in Edubba 2. exercising the cognitive processes noted by Ellis in his criteria. Pre-writing.

Thus. it is probably evident from the language employed in the ‘To-Do’ list that the role of the teacher in the simulation is that of senior editor. different standards and criteria for success prevailed at different phases of the writing process in Edubba. the emphasis was upon the quality of content. Note that only prior to filing the story did grammatical and spelling considerations enter: prior to that. hence forgiving. the writer is required to file the final revision to ‘The Editor’ of The Sun. and offers additional suggestions for global revisions. usually a proxy for the teacher. a working relationship is established by means of which tasks are undertaken with strong support both from the technological resources embedded in Edubba. basis. or a teacher charged with assessing the progress of the writer.192 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology professional writers undertake several revisions before filing a story. an introductory overview article. Rather than teacher-fronted pedagogy. Only then is the writer moved towards the polishing steps required to meet the requirements of a critical audience. comes promotion to Senior Staff Reporter. be it the generalized public in the town simulation. The chapter demonstrated the usefulness of robust but imperfect. With the filing of Story #1. natural language processing routines that push learners to produce increasingly . Finally. but also from a professional educator who is freed to intervene on a more incidental. Natural language processing enables interactive practice and development of writing. as-needed. the simulation ensured that attention to language forms (in Long’s sense) was motivated by the needs of the newspaper’s audience for clear. not by curricular imperatives or teacher admonition. coach and mentor. Finally. and able to customize help for learners. In every case. Summary and Conclusion This case study has considered three elements of the Edubba language learning software: 1. and access to additional navigational opportunities in order to complete articles on each of the four main proposals for water supply. informative and balanced reporting.

While Edubba reflects its content based instruction (CBI) and genre theory pedigree. that simulations offer unique affordances whereby the ‘world’ is indeed imported into the language learning setting in ways that free . Writing process theory was shown to motivate the choice of a sequence of tasks expected of learners in the programme (cf.Edubba: Real-World Writing Tasks in a VW 193 precise. and other important intellectual abilities that underpin overtly-taught ‘skills’ of expository academic writing assigned to novice writers. edit and file their feature stories. genres and forms. We argue. 2. Edubba challenges learners to acquire cognitive-academic skills including information-gathering. problem-solving. A useful question concerning simulation software like Edubba is whether such simulations allow language educators to realize more fully the principles and standards that are articulated for TBLT (Van den Branden. Specialist knowledge about water supply can be queried by means of written expressions that even beginning EAL learners are capable of creating. It requires learners to take independent initiative. draft. access multiple sources. Rather. 2004). 2009). on the basis of our examination of the specific tasks embedded in Edubba’s activities. A real-world database is intentionally distributed across characters in a virtual world. 3. this more constrained (but scalable) knowledge base is difficult to gain comprehensive accounts from. but also because of its distribution across virtual characters. we argue that the programme is more than a knowledge base. autonomous learning. Bygate & Norris. Hence critical thinking skills in addition to questioning skills are promoted for these virtual reporters. and compare and contrast the points of view and biases inherent in responses from contending sources. and promotes collaborative writing. Hence it embodies a TBLT instructional design that drives its CBI/genre theory design elements in order to promote English language learning and academic success concurrently. A proxy for a virtually unlimited network of knowledge about water. useful and better-informed questions as they research. 1996. Pennington. both by virtue of its finite size. critical thinking and evaluation of sources. Instructional design links cognitive processes with real-world linguistic processes.

and everyone will have an option. The characters represent real life. N. First. The incorporation of NLP features offer additional interactivity which moves CALL software from its earlier reliance on receptive skills. balanced with a set of ‘reporter’s training’ tasks that focus on taskbased language functions and forms. in which working skills can be practiced in an enjoyable. user-based. productive skills that are atomized and at worst. and the other.194 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology exploration in cyberspace. And it is the availability of the VW. or at best. reduced to mouse-clicked multiple choice items. reading and learning. cannot provide efficiently. Advanced speech recognition technology will in turn open up the opportunity to mobilize equally compelling tasks for the development of spoken language. to fluent production opportunities in convincing contexts of language use for extralinguistic ends. (1998). NH: Boynton/Cook. where there are solutions. (Hart. scaffolded with carefully designed tasks. a Chilean engineering student. one curricular. . The time of day is influenced by the upper society. We conclude with two claims. Private companies turn off our power every day. But the final word concerning authenticity of learning activities in this case study comes from Pablo. the Teacher’s Guide links TBLT to the simulation of an authentic vocational challenge to English language learners in this way: The design for learning in Edubba emphasizes writing for academic success by means of engaging in practical. after four weeks’ writing in Edubba in Hart’s trial: I liked the realisticness of Edubba compared to my town. content-based problems. where there isn’t enough water to power the dam. 2000) References Atwell. In the middle: New understandings about writing. or even field experiences in the community. exploratory way that allows good simulation software to meet many of the standards of high-quality TBLT. Portsmouth.

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focusing on ‘how that task design is negotiated throughout the exchange with different consequences on the learning outcomes’. O’Dowd and Ware (2009. Samuda and Bygate (2008. O’Dowd and Ware (ibid.and in-service trainee teachers of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) from the United States and Germany. why they are structured the way they are and why the implementation followed the pattern it did’.) explore how decisions about task design for telecollaboration are reached and what happens during the actual implementation of a task.0 Mirjam Hauck Introduction The factors that shape task design and implementation in task-based language teaching (TBLT) have received little attention in published research to date and thus remain under-explored.’ In response to the call by an emerging body of research for a greater focus on the factors which influence task choice in TBL (see. 2008). This is also the backdrop for the present chapter which draws on insights gained from a four-way telecollaborative encounter in autumn 2008 between pre.Chapter 10 The Enactment of Task Design in Telecollaboration 2. Müller-Hartmann & Schocker-v. . p. p. and that the choice of tasks is generally presented as an unproblematic fait accompli. Samuda & Bygate. Ditfurth. Similarly. 2008. . 97) posit that studies about task-based learning (TBL) ‘fail to reflect explicitly the qualitative thinking of the designer or teacher about what the tasks are intended to do. . 174) observe in relation to published research on online intercultural exchanges. that ‘the actual process of task design is rarely referred to . for example. or telecollaboration.

One of the aims of the exchange was to shed light on the interrelationship between multimodal literacy and online communication. 2003). Among the various foci of telecollaboration – such as development of linguistic accuracy and fluency. 2001. The exchange evolved around a sequence of tasks consisting of an introductory task followed by two main tasks (Task 1 and Task 2). spoken and visual modalities. Halliday’s framework takes into account three major features of context: what is happening (context of situation: FIELD). Kress (2000) and others have further developed Halliday’s ideas about making meaning and adapted them to computer-mediated communication (CMC). their ability to identify the communication modes available online and how they support or constrain meaning making and communication (Hampel & Hauck. 2010) – the 2008 exchange centred on the enhancement of the participants’ electronic or e-literacy skills. They have defined multimodality as ‘the use of several semiotic modes in the design of a semiotic product or event. conceiving language as a complex system made up of written. 2003. Task 1 had been designed to raise participants’ multimodal awareness. The findings which are reported here therefore also contribute to the equally under-researched relationship of TBLT and technology in general (exceptions are Doughty & Long. 2006. As a result. Ogborne & Tsatsarelis. who is taking part (context of situation: TENOR). learner autonomy. and the role language is playing and which other semiotic features are present (context of situation: MODE). Skehan. however. 2006). intercultural communication skills and electronic literacy which is also referred to as new media literacy (Guth & Helm. each with their own modes and affordances. which Pegrum (2009) defines as understanding and interpreting the relationship and interaction between different formats of digital media.198 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology and language learners (German) from the United Kingdom and Poland. Today. 25). The design of Task 1 was informed by Halliday’s (1989) social-semiotic framework and Kress and van Leeuwen’s (2001) conceptualization of multimodality. Hampel. a greater variety of media offer different modes for making meaning and the computer also allows us to combine these modes in an ‘orchestration of meaning’ (Kress. Jewitt. . their multimodal literacy in particular. namely. p.

. . . for example. 2001. .The Enactment of Task Design in Telecollaboration 2. Richardson. Section 3 is dedicated to the description of project Task 1. so that the feasibility of exchange arrangements will grow exponentially. fulfil complementary roles . or be hierarchically ordered’ (Kress & van Leeuwen. in particular the approach to task design and the outcome.0 199 together with the particular way in which these modes are combined – they may for instance reinforce each other . 20). In addition to these opportunities to receive input. the participants and the methodological approach. there are many opportunities to engage in interaction. the 2008 telecollaborative pilot project is presented. Now it is likely that groups of learners can engage in real-time communication. and ‘twinning’ of learners and native speakers will become common place. 2006). In section 2. Next. and has . p. . the main issues that arose during the implementation of Task 1 are discussed.0 and Electronic Literacy Skills Development With regard to task-based language instruction Skehan (2003. whether synchronous or asynchronous. Section 1 of this chapter argues that among the various forms of computer-supported collaborative learning telecollaboration is particularly well suited to raise awareness of online modes and meaning making and to foster the development of multimodal literacy. Telecollaboration 2. 403) summarizes the advantages offered by developments in technology as follows: What is really exciting about the use of technology is its potential as a source of language learning materials and input. with information provided on the project framework. And finally section 5 draws this chapter to a conclusion with a summary of the insights gained and the amendments made for the current iteration of the project (2009). . A few years ago. this was restricted to typed communication. Such exchange arrangements or ‘twinning’ of learners facilitate collaborative learning which has been acknowledged as a defining element of new media literacy (see. p. .

2007. and of culture as participatory (see also Pegrum. and MOOs (as well as other forms of electronically mediated communication). however. Telecollaboration is one form of computer-supported collaborative learning and was originally defined as the use of ‘Internet communication tools such as e-mail.0 based on what networked technologies such as forums. or as Pegrum (2009) asserts. in order to participate. synchronous chat. 2008). wikis. and intercultural exchange’ (Belz. blogs. 2009). 2003. intercultural communicative competence and new media literacies. that is the property of the social networks that created it. social networking and sharing . 2) among language learners from different parts of the globe through structured tasks. possess the ‘skillsets necessary to engage effectively in contemporary communication’ (p. namely. Guth.g. generating and sharing content and becoming part of online communities. telecollaboration 2. and who might not even be far away from each other (e. we further conceptualize telecollaboration 2. Ros i Solé & Starkey.0’ to describe changes in the way people use and interact via the internet. Basharina.200 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology been shown to support learners in developing linguistic and critical inquiry skills – a pre-condition for awareness raising – as well as a sense of community (Hopkins.g. In this chapter we refer to this wider understanding of telecollaboration which is probably best captured by Guth and Helm’s (2010) concept of ‘telecollaboration 2. Telecollaboration 2. debate. learners have to be e-literate. Pegrum highlights participatory literacy – the ability to contribute to blogs.0 identifies the shift of focus to dialogue building and social networking tools that are now commonly available. Helm & Whigham. in order to support social interaction. 2003. In his overview of the requisite literacy skills. threaded discussion. Derived from O’Reilly’s (2005) use of the term ‘Web 2. dialogue. Belz & Müller-Hartmann. Gibson.0 encompasses the development of language proficiency. p. Fratter. the scope of these online encounters has been extended to include exchanges based on the use of a lingua franca (e. 2008). Yet. 36). In line with Guth and Helm (2010). Recently. between participants who are not all language learners (e. 2007). 2005).g. wikis and videosharing websites allow learners to do.0’. Hauck & Lewis. This view is complemented by an understanding of knowledge as being collaborative.

. not by a body of knowledge or ‘critical’ values. . .0 201 sites. and media literacy. McWilliam. concluding that ‘Most commonly. Consequently. p. Focusing on the participatory aspect of the aforementioned skills. Digital literacy is generated by its uses. Jenkins. sustainable and socially creative state. 339) experiential modelling approach. Purushotma. or in relation to the project. . Robison and Weigel (2006. finding out about modes available online and their impact on meaning making and communication by engaging in hands-on analysis of web resources. Telecollaboration 2. collaborative online learning emerges as the means and the end of the educational challenge highlighted by Pegrum (2009). or as Blewitt (2009. . that is finding out about online collaborative teaching and learning by being engaged in such collaborative activity in the first place.The Enactment of Task Design in Telecollaboration 2. he subdivides multimodal literacy into visual literacy. . audio and video literacy. 40). participatory. digital media provides a space where: . with digital technologies typically demanding competence in a range of the above literacies’ (p. The Project The 2008 telecollaborative exchange attempted to emulate such ‘learning by doing’ in relation to the development of multimodal awareness among the participants.4) describe new media literacies as ‘a set of cultural competencies and social skills that young people [sic!] need in the new media landscape’ and which are developed through collaboration and networking. what’s needed is multimodal literacy. It is demand-led literacy. p. Burgess and Banks (2008.0 then. Following the New London Group and the New Literacy Studies’ understanding of multi-literacies. 3) referring to Hartley. Clinton. it could be argued. seems to provide the ideal set-up to meet the challenge and acquire the skills and competencies in question as it is per definitionem based on the use of networked technologies and thus affords exchange partners ‘on-the-job’ training. p. It was also inspired by Hoven’s (2006. p. 61) puts it: In its fresh democratic. virtual worlds (VWs) and gaming environments – and multimodal literacy. learning by doing is the norm.

1 Country Participant groups United States Germany 17 Poland 14 United Kingdom 8 Number of 27 participants Type of Pre-service participant teacher trainee Course they were enrolled in L1 Pre-service Language Language learner (German B2) teacher trainee learner (German B1/B2) TESOL – classroom Task-based German In gap period practices language language between the end of learning and the course one language development of course (German) media literacy and the beginning of the next Various (majority Various (majority Polish English native speakers of native speakers English/American of German) English) . Further findings from the pilot project such as an analysis of participants’ contributions to the project forums are presented in Hauck (2010). and saw the interaction with learners from different cultural backgrounds as an added bonus. while their counterparts in Germany were also interested in the intercultural dimension of the exchange and in practising their foreign language skills. Table 10. The remainder of this chapter will focus on the relevance of the encounter and the chosen approach to task design for the teacher trainees who took part in the exchange. two groups of teacher trainees and two groups of language learners.2 summarizes the project plan. Project framework and methodological approach Table 10.or even three-way telecollaboration projects in several aspects: it brought together four groups of participants.1 provides an overview of the participants. The pre-service teacher trainees in the United States took part mainly to explore the use of online tools and resources for tutoring. The language learners were primarily motivated by the opportunity to practise their German. Table 10.202 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology The participants The set-up of this pilot project differed from more traditional two.

Table 10. dates of birth. social bookmarking tool (fOUndit http://foundit.uk) All Saints (religious holiday in Poland) Moodle forums (teacher trainees) and wiki (language learners) FlashMeeting FlashMeeting Critical periods Receive and return pre-treatment questionnaires Names.org/flreport 20–26 – read literature about the integration of – continue getting-to-know phase technology into the foreign language with focus on participants’ classroom interest in / experience with – start work on Task 1 (part 1) learning German Oct/Nov 27–02 – continue work on Task 1 (part 2) – starting work on Task 1 (part 1) Nov 03–09 – continue work on Task 1 (part 3) – continue work on Task 1 (part 2) 10–16 – carry out Task 2 (design of task for – continue work on Task 1 language learners) (part 3) 17–23 – exchange experience in project so far – carry out task designed by teacher trainees 24–30 – exchange experience with Task 1 from a tutor/learner point of view Dec 01–07 – evaluation of overall project experience (teacher trainees Germany. e-mail addresses to be collected to arrange for IDs and passwords for Moodle project site IDs and passwords and URL of project site sent out – find out about each other – find out about each other – exchange information about each others’ – exchange information about educational context each others’ educational – reflect on quote(s) from MLA report to context get into the ‘spirit’ of the exchange http://www.uk/ Moodle forums.open.ac. language learners UK and Poland) 8–14 – presentation of main project outcomes in class (teacher trainees US) 15–21 – receive and return post-treatment Post. hosted and administered by Open University (OU)/Department of Languages) password protected site hosted and administered by OU Moodle forum moderated by members of project team FlashMeeting (optional) moderated by members of project team http://flashmeeting.ac.open.treatment questionnaire Thanksgiving week USA . Germany Language learners UK.mla.2 Project plan 2008 September Pre-treatment 15–28 September/ October 29–05 October 06–12 13–19 Teacher trainees US. Poland Platform / Tools e-mail (dedicated e-mail account.

The language of the exchange was English. Hampel and Hauck suggest that learner and tutor training as well as task design for online environments should be fundamentally reconsidered and take account of the mediating effect of digital and multimodal tools and applications. . 2006). 2009. Lantolf. tutors need to be aware of the above in the first place. or. online tutoring skills and e-literacy skills development (Hampel & Hauck. The mediating role of technology has been highlighted not only in the context of online language learning and teaching (e. the fact that varying affordances require varying e-literacy skills. 2006). 2007. Informed consent regarding data collection.g. that is. that is the constraints and possibilities for meaning making and communication offered by the available modes (Hampel. in order to be able to consider the affordances of multimodal technologies. more specifically. the growth of user generated content. online games. The teacher trainees worked both in local and in telecollaborative groups while the language learners worked in telecollaborative groups only. . The Approach to Task Design In their 2006 article. Lamy & Hampel. Yet. to combine pedagogical and technical training (Hampel. For the teacher trainees the project design reflected the approach increasingly advocated by CALL professionals. The teacher trainees from the German university participating in the project selected some of the tasks they had designed in their telecollaborative teams (Task 2) and translated them for the language learners. 2006). social networking. Task 1 of the 2008 exchange was designed to foster such awareness. and to harness their potential for their teaching. namely. Data were collected through pre.and post-treatment questionnaires and student exchanges in the group forums. online distance learning and 3-D virtual worlds suggests our . Hubbard & Levy. 2000) but also in relation to our daily life: . analysis and publication was obtained from all participants.204 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology The teacher trainees were a week ahead of the language learners so that they had time to design a task (Task 2) for the language learners.

they have to understand the practice of meaning making itself. In doing so they will gradually turn into skilled ‘semantic traders’ – experienced in the realisation of the affordances of a variety of modes – and thus systematically develop their electronic literacy skills. In this way they could become ‘fluent’ in new communication modes such as online speech and writing and images and their simultaneous realization. musical . networked technologies not only mediate but also re-mediate existing modes of meaning making and communication. Hampel and Hauck (2006) contend. Hampel and Hauck (2006) advocate the systematic development of electronic literacy skills which enable (language) learners to use the new online spaces with multimodal competence as defined by Kress 2003. 3D model’ (p. 251) who stresses that it is no longer ‘sufficient for learners to know how to communicate meanings. p. still and moving. . . . 2009. 175) definition of tasks for telecollaborative activity: Telecollaborative tasks generally involve different linguistic and cultural communities and thereby have a strong possibility of . p. that is being able to express ideas across a wide range of representational systems or modes including ‘words. Hampel and Hauck (2006.0 205 relationship with the physical world . spoken or written. image. change.The Enactment of Task Design in Telecollaboration 2. A similar view of e-literacy skills development through TBL is reflected in O’Dowd’s and Ware’s (2009. This view is echoed by Kramsch (2006. (Blewitt. 2) However. . p. their potential for making meaning and communicating. If we want online learners to become agentive in the meaning-making process. p. 14) argue further that tutors require training in activity development based on multimodal awareness: Tutors will also need to be trained in the design of activities that make efficient use of multiple modalities to ensure that learners stretch.’ In line with Stein’s (2000) call for ‘multimodal pedagogies’. that is. we should raise their awareness of the communication modes at their disposal and of their respective affordances. is increasingly mediated. 21). adapt and modify all elements available.

Ditfurth. but with full awareness of the affordances of many modes and of the media and their sites of appearance’ (Kress. We hypothesize that such training would also contribute to what Fuchs (2006) drawing on Willis (2001) calls the tutors’ professional literacy and would allow them to systematically work up their way on Hampel and Stickler’s (2005) ‘pyramid of skills’ for tutoring online. those learners able ‘to choose. 2006 cited in Müller-Hartmann. 49). 2000) Therefore online (language) tutors should be offered training in the design of activities that make appropriate use of multiple modalities so that they can fulfil their ‘technical’ responsibility beyond ‘introducing tools to the less knowledgeable learners. (Shetzer and Warschauer. . not merely with full competence within one mode . 170). On the basis of a review of over 40 reports in the literature on telecollaborative exchanges O’Dowd and Ware (2009) have synthesized . . 169). p.206 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology producing negotiation of meaning and providing opportunities for the exploration of different cultural perspectives. p. would also experience comparatively higher levels of intercultural knowledge gain in telecollaboration. . [and] familiarising participants with both systems and software’ (Legutke. and . . Ideally. With enhanced levels of multimodal communicative competence tutors are more likely to be in a position where areas of conflict and misunderstanding in online encounters can be turned into key moments of (intercultural) learning and thus also assume their social responsibility ‘to avoid unnecessary friction among partners’ (Müller-Hartmann. a focus on the skills of electronic literacy. This makes them particularly suited to recent approaches to task-based learning which include a focus on issues related to intercultural communication . 220). p. Findings from a previous project suggest that ‘the extent to which telecollaborative partners can draw benefit from the aforementioned key moments of cultural learning also depends on their ability to make efficient use of the meaning-making resources available to them online in order to engage in interculturally rich interaction’ (Hauck. then. 2007. . 2007. 2003. . p. 2007. MüllerHartmann & Schocker-v.

none of the tasks in their typology relates explicitly to (a) teacher training in the context of telecollaborative encounters. the material stuff that we use for making meaning’ (p. an Information Exchange Task where participants provide their telecollaborative partners with information about their personal backgrounds and their home cultures. This approach corroborates Kress’s (2003) observation that it is vital ‘to understand the meaning-potentials of the resources as precisely and as explicitly as we can’ (p.0 207 the variety of tasks used into 12 general types. The aim was to encourage them to find out about their learning partners’ various cultural . participants were asked to focus on the modes featuring on a web resource of their choice and on how these modes convey information. surveys. 32). The task The introductory activity fell into category 1 of O’Dowd and Ware’s (2009) typology. but also to go a step further and carry out comparisons or critical analyses of cultural products (e. books. 1989) expanded by Kress and van Leeuwen’s (2001) understanding of multimodality to include the modes for making meaning offered by the new media. The approach to task design chosen for this pilot project bridges this gap. The subsequent Task 1 was inspired by Lamy and Hampel (2007) who suggest that first the modes involved in making up a multimodal environment should be identified and then the meaning-making and communication possibilities they afford the learner – both as single and as combined modes – should be considered. In the 2008 exchange.The Enactment of Task Design in Telecollaboration 2. Task 1 was informed by Halliday’s social-semiotic framework (Halliday. Furthermore. that is. However. films and newspaper articles).g. Broadly speaking it falls into category 2 of O’Dowd and Ware’s (2009) typology. 24) and to do so ‘we need to attend to the materiality of the resources. that is Comparison and Analysis Tasks requiring learners to exchange information. (b) e-literacy skills training for tutors and learners.

Post at least one comment/reply to the link your group members have sent to your group forum and – if you have enough time – also look at what others who participate in this project have posted and comment on their sites and observations using the commenting facility in fOUndit.e. a mix of both)? Please post your answers to the questions to your group forum. Are there any cultural values and beliefs embedded in the materials presented? Post the link to the site you have chosen – to ‘fOUndit’ (a social bookmarking site which you find in the ‘tool’ box on the right hand side of the Moodle project site). images/pictures and their colours. How interactive are the sites? Do they mainly provide information. passive viewer/reader. rate the sites. What is the site about? 2. Please post the answers to the questions above to your group forum. How do these features (spoken/written language. is there an opportunity to contribute to the site(s) (e. spoken language. college. gestures. please choose an educational website (i.) influence what we learn about the culture/the country? Please post your answers to the questions to your group forum. What channels of communication are available on the site you have chosen (written language. Don’t forget to annotate your link in fOUndit. actively engaging in an activity. Figure 10. pairs or groups of people? 3. Examine and evaluate the website in terms of its goals and content: 1. PART 1 In your local teams (‘local’ refers to your institution). TASK 1. upload images or pictures)? 4. PART 2 Please compare the two websites that your cooperative group has found by answering the following questions: 1.208 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology TASK 1 Analysis of a website with information on one of the cultures/countries represented in each participant group. or. What can you say in terms of reliability of the website? 3. etc. TASK 1. images/pictures. Now look at what your group members have found and said about their site.1 Project Task 1 . leave a comment. university or an organization has put up) which informs you about one of the cultures/countries represented in your partner group. What activities are provided? 4. The idea is to trigger a stimulating cross-cultural discussion among cooperative teams (‘cooperative’ refers to your team plus your partners overseas).)? 2. PART 3 You will continue comparing the sites your group members have found by answering the following questions: 1. Are the sites intended for individual use. etc. What is the user’s status (e.g. Who are the intended participants/users of the site(s)? 2. a site which a school.g. What role does spoken/written language play on the site you have chosen? 3. – to your group forum on the Moodle project site. TASK 1.

Müller-Hartmann . The product created by the teacher trainees was a task designed to develop multimodal awareness in learners mapped onto the approach they had experimented with during Task 1. In the introductory phase participants use a coffee shop or virtual pub/bar type forum to introduce themselves and find out about each others’ backgrounds including their educational and institutional context. Figure 10. Moreover. Most commonly. task sequencing allows tutors to cater for various learning objects – one at a time – in one single exchange.The Enactment of Task Design in Telecollaboration 2. three stages can be identified in telecollaboration. 2007. Task Implementation: The Ongoing Enactment of the Tasks The rationale for the sequence of tasks chosen for this telecollaborative encounter is best explained by looking at the degree of interactivity and sense of community required in each phase of the exchange. The encounter is often rounded off with a brief individual or joint reflection on the experience as a whole and an evaluation of the insights gained – also carried out either collaboratively or by each individual participant (see. Belz 2002.1 illustrates the three parts of Task 1. that is Collaborative Tasks requiring participants not only to exchange and compare information but also to work together to produce a joint product or conclusion.0 209 backgrounds – independent of the country where they were currently studying while at the same time becoming increasingly aware of how the information they are evaluating was communicated to them. for example. Hauck & Lewis. their expectations and their motivation for taking part in the exchange. and finally a collaborative task which requires intensive exchanges among the learning partners to come up with a product such as an essay or a bilingual website. This is often followed by a comparative phase where they start engaging with each other more closely. During this phase they usually interact once or twice with one another and primarily on a social level. Work on the three parts of Task 1 was followed by the second main task of the pilot project which falls into category 3 of O’Dowd and Ware’s (2009) typology.

The crucial role of the collaborating teacher-researchers during task implementation in relation to the outcome of telecollaborative project has been mentioned before (see. Furthermore. One of the two groups of participating teacher trainees was already quite diverse in terms of their linguistic and cultural backgrounds. S/he also had to respond when the students expressed dissatisfaction with the duration of Task 1. Thus part 3 of Task 1 – which originally had an explicit focus on online modes and how they facilitate meaning making and communication – had to be amended midway through the project as there was a perceived risk that some of the dissatisfied participants would drop out early. As a result. Hauck. 2007. The resulting tension was aggravated by the fact that the initiator of the exchange had seemingly failed to articulate the learning objectives and pedagogical beliefs to the teaching partners during the preparatory stages of the project. The project team for the 2008 exchange – one tutor-researcher from each of the participating institutions – also agreed relatively quickly to follow this sequence of tasks. 2003). s/he worked under considerable institutional constraints – in contrast to the other project team members who had more flexibility and more homogenous groups of participants – and had to set out the details of each phase of the exchange in a contract-type document for the learners. task choice and sequencing are only part of what influences the interaction and collaboration among participants and the outcome of an exchange. All of these factors came into play during the task execution in the current pilot project. 2007). crosscultural differences in various institutional settings often play a significant role in terms of restrictions or enhancements of the tutors’ role in telecollaboration (Belz & Müller-Hartmann. if not even more important. Wilden. 179). Müller-Hartmann. are the interactions among the instructors as they negotiate ‘the ongoing enactment of the tasks’ (p. 2006). Equally. This decision had to be accommodated by the . as O’Dowd and Ware (2009) point out. 2007. which consisted of three parts stretching over three weeks. O’Dowd & Ritter. for example. Yet. the tutor-researcher who had volunteered to participate in the project found it quite challenging to convince the students of the added benefit of online collaboration with learning partners from different countries. In addition.210 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology 2007.

Step 2 Post Step 1 in your Group Forum. PART 3 Step 1 Based on your prior research (Task 1. supports. Varying degrees of embeddedness of modes in the new media . The colleague who asked for the amendment to the task was under considerable pressure as s/he knew that there was going to be an official end-of-term evaluation of his/her course by the students including the project experience. guides and monitors the interaction among learners ignores the local institutional constraints.0 211 remaining project team members and had a considerable impact on the outcome of the project which had originally been conceived to address the following issue (Hauck. 169) concludes. . Parts 1 & 2). Step 3 Comment on your cooperative partners’ website choice: Are there any additional suggestions you have with regard to using the site? Any further comments? Figure 10. include a sample activity if you have time. Please. images/pictures. namely to raise the participants’ awareness of online modes. . p. including the issue of multimodality (different channels of communication for language learning written/spoken language. part 3 (see Figure 10. meaning making and communication had thus been marginalized during the ‘ongoing enactment of the tasks’. etc). TASK 1. and the ensuing modal complexity turn .2) was posted on the project site. This feedback in some higher education contexts has an impact on the individual’s professional standing and even career. One of the intended outcomes of the pilot project. Part 3 new . . and thus also on tutors and (language) learners. that the concept of the tutor as a mere facilitator who sets up. 2010): The increasing convergence of technologies encapsulated in twenty-first century online tools does make new and different cognitive demands on users. telecollaboration into a new challenge. Once again it became obvious as MüllerHartmann (2007. Provide a brief rationale for why you chose the site.The Enactment of Task Design in Telecollaboration 2. Eventually the following version of Task 1. choose one site together with your local partner that you would both like to use with your ESL/EFL students. .2 Project Task 1.

Ning and blog) and which could be used to help develop them (Task 1). 498) point out. I think based on the participant’s . the project team re-visited the task design for the current iteration of the exchange which at the time of writing of this chapter is still ongoing. this volume). Conclusion The experience of the 2008 telecollaboration outlined earlier has shown yet again. chat. . ‘teacher development . As a result.212 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology It was therefore not surprising that the number of forum postings which make explicit references to modes and meaning was much smaller than anticipated. as Bygate. social bookmarking. we need to pre-structure the task more than last time. if we work with the websites again. p. the teaching partners of the project team must consider how they will negotiate the enactment of tasks throughout the exchange. wiki. and happened as a result of the following mail message during the project team’s evaluation of the exchange: I think. Figure 10. implementation flexibility and openness to alternative views and approaches are crucial for the positive outcome of such encounters. As they need to agree and reach joint decisions about task design. The incentive for implementing the changes went beyond the level of detail reflected in the 2008 questions on communication modes and meaning making. Norris and Van den Branden (2009.3 illustrates the amendments made to part 3 of the original Task 1 (2008 pilot project). . [is the] lynchpin for progress of the TBLT enterprise’ (see also Raith & Hegelheimer. The main decisions taken for the second iteration of the project in 2009 were to provide participants with: – A list of literacy skills based on Pegrum (2009) and to ask them which of those were required to use networked technologies (forum. It further confirms O’Dowd and Ware’s (2009) claim that beyond decisions on the nature and sequencing of tasks. – An example analysis of a web resource with an even more detailed set of questions with regard to modes and meaning making (Task 2).

punctuation. That way. rhetorical structure.) • image mode (photo.The Enactment of Task Design in Telecollaboration 2. graph. diagram. colour three-dimensional representations. sign language. Figure 10.e. layout. and don’t lose valuable time which can be used for analysis and negotiation. tutors can make telecollaborative exchanges work by ‘carefully combining . vocabulary. The fact that the team is still together and has decided to implement another iteration of the project also shows that despite relatively different institutional settings and pedagogical convictions. voice and pronunciation. they are focussed right away. Post at least one comment/reply to one of the other forums for each of the three parts of the task. Part 3 cultural background in the classes we should put together a list of possible websites that conform to our requirements of multimodality and ICC [intercultural communicative competence] and then have the students possibly choose if we find a sufficient number of sites. take a closer look at the various communication modes/channels available on the website you have chosen: • spoken mode (code – including languages and language varieties.) • gestural mode (gestures. syntax. drawing. dance) Which modes are represented on your chosen site and which functions do they have? Further instructions Commenting/giving feedback Post the answers to the questions above to your respective group Forum. To achieve this and not get them lost on sites that are not helpful we pre-select and then set them loose. paragraphing.3 2009 exchange – Task 2. i. This is what I meant earlier with the teacher’s role in designing/ initiating tasks. This is what I understand by ‘guiding’. etc. We have a clear aim if we want our learners to develop awareness of MM [multimodality]. November 20th MODE 213 Please. Look at what the other groups have found about the sites they have chosen. syntax. non-verbal signals) • written mode (code – including languages and language varieties vocabulary. logo.0 Task 2 / Part 3 Introduction This part should be finished by Friday. etc.

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interaction procedures in order to reflect their own beliefs and teaching objectives as well as those of their teaching partners’ (O’Dowd & Ware, 2009, p. 182). It is true, however, that setting up and running such exchanges is and will probably remain – as O’Dowd and Ware so pointedly summarise – ‘a gargantuan task’ (p. 183) in itself.

References
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Chapter 11

Afterword: Future Directions for Technology-Mediated Tasks
Gary Motteram and Michael Thomas

The Future and the Past
Trying to predict the future is a rather dangerous pastime. This has always been true where the future of technology is concerned. In 1943 the chairman of IBM predicted that it was unlikely that the world market could sustain more than five computers. Three decades later in 1977, the CEO of a prominent digital technology company predicted that it was unlikely that anyone would ever need a computer in their own home. Being unable to predict the future, even when major transformations are only a short time away, is equally true of language education, where methodologies rarely seem to fulfil their potential or live up to their advocates’ ambitions in precisely the ways they once envisaged. Task-based language teaching (TBLT) is currently being advocated as the replacement for communicative language teaching. As the chapters in this book indicate, however, advocates must be careful not to overestimate its potential and adopt a flexible rather than exclusive approach that is open to other research traditions – one that in emphasizing the negotiation of meaning does not exclude linguistic input, or in emphasizing authentic tasks does not neglect the way information and communication technologies (ICTs) are reshaping patterns of communicative activity. In considering the future of technology-mediated tasks, previous research on TBLT and computer-assisted language learning (CALL) appears to have been rather limited. At first glance, this seems rather anomalous, as there is an obvious link between learning technologies and the use of tasks. Indeed, Levy and Stockwell (2006) identified

not least by the way CALL researchers frame their teaching practice. there are fewer if any CALL-based curricula that adhere to a rigorous TBLT foundation. in our increasingly networked world. it is possible to identify an already existing and developing body of CALL research relating to task design. As there have been few examples of extensive TBLT-designed programmes. accuracy and complexity which are so often missing from conventional language curricula. p. for example. which will be valuable signposts for the future. it is perhaps more accurate to argue that their work with tasks has not fallen within the specific parameters of the ‘stronger’ version of TBLT suggested by Norris. Chapelle (2001. if we take the ‘weaker’ definition of TBLT suggested by Thomas and Reinders in Chapter 1. CALL research draws on a mixed array of disciplinary and interdisciplinary influences from Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). As Levy (1997) pointed out over 10 years ago. technology provides significant opportunities for learners to engage in exactly the kinds of authentic task-based activities focused on developing communicative fluency. The questions that Chapelle asked almost a decade ago.Future Directions for Technology-Mediated Tasks 219 ‘task’ as the seventh most frequently used keyword identifier in their corpus of major CALL research between 1999 and 2005. Applied Linguistics. Psychology. are still relevant to a number of ideas and issues that are raised by contributors in this book vis-à-vis second language (L2) ability. to name but three areas of concern. examined how CALL and a task-based framework might be established. This tendency has been conditioned by a number of factors. Instructional Technology and Design. Teachers who use technology have not just discovered TBLT then. She presented a series of questions through which she asked readers to consider how a future research agenda might be conducted in the area of task-based CALL. However. principally because they have an interest in the eclectic array of disciplines that have influenced CALL since its formal beginnings in 1983 (Chapelle. As this statistic suggests. utilizing a similar set of influences to Levy. particularly the first four. 2001). Computational Linguistics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). sequencing and implementation. 41). In Chapelle’s first question the emphasis is on asking how computers . Bygate and Van den Branden (2009) and described in Chapter 1.

TBLT has become one of the most potentially significant methodological discourses following criticisms of ‘communicative’ language teaching. Motteram & Onat-Stelma. In the second question Chapelle focuses on how collaborative CALL activities can be used to develop communication. While the future remains difficult to predict.220 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology can be used to enhance communicative development. In the fourth question we are asked about the role of software which recognizes and produces language. As far as tasks and CALL are concerned then. The particular aspect of sociocultural theory that has been presented most overtly in this book is Activity Theory (AT). At the same time as sociocultural theory and the web have emerged. 235) has called the ‘sociocultural turn’. it would not be difficult to reframe Chapelle’s original questions with similar ones about TBLT. tasks have been an integral and structural component of CALL research for over two decades (Levy & Stockwell. 2006). 2010). most notably in Chapter 2 by MüllerHartmann and Schocker-v. that leaves us with the present state of task-based learning (TBL) and the potential of CALL. p. but also in other chapters through references to Lantolf and Thorne. or Vygotsky. the past is not another country. The third question is concerned with how AI and Intelligent CALL (ICALL) applications can foster communicative competence and improve assessment. 1998) to reflect on the ‘situated’ nature of teaching and learning (Slaouti. Ditfurth. One other development in the field of language teaching is the use of case studies (Edge & Richards. Sociocultural theory is also referred to by Rod Ellis in the Foreword to this volume and has been a key feature of a number of the chapters on computer-mediated communication (CMC). All of Chapelle’s questions have been addressed in this book and while Chapelle and Levy are not necessarily using the same terminology. their concerns and the concerns of other users of technology in language classrooms are very similar. The Present The world of language learning and teaching has entered a phase that Johnson (2006. Indeed. The idea that language educators should theorize from and about their practice .

is concerned with the growth of desktop videoconferencing (DTVC) to deliver language learning across the world. Synchronous communication has come a long way in the past few years. and political particularities’ (p. in particular Second Life. which compares synchronous and asynchronous text-based tools.g. social. and the possible which emphasizes the relationship between language learning and sociocultural reality. Indeed. we need to use such tools with caution as Stockwell reminds us in Chapter 5. We can easily find ourselves in what is often termed . cultural. if this is what is required. However. These two technology-mediated learning environments offer the possibility of synchronous audio communication. in the first case with video and in the second case as an avatar interacting within a virtual world (VW) that can be made to appear and act like the real world. Hauck. ‘based on a true understanding of local linguistic. the practical ‘which encourages teachers to theorize from their practice and to practice what they theorize’ (p. as a site for task-based language learning. and the need to recognize the social needs and identities which come with each individual learner. focuses on twenty-first century Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVEs).Future Directions for Technology-Mediated Tasks 221 has been well rehearsed by Kumaravadivelu (2001) in his references to the particular. At this point. Two Vignettes Vignette 1: language teaching in virtual classrooms or via Skype The LANCELOT project. Chapter 10). A second project. particularly with developments in audio communication.1 funded by the European Commission. but increasingly video is also a distinct possibility. and to understand how learners respond to TBL in these online mediated contexts. 545). two vignettes can be used to illustrate how many of the concerns of TBLT identified in the preceding chapters can be used to create synergies with CALL research on tasks. 544). in this volume we have seen a series of cases that in applying a task-based framework do precisely that. AVALON. These environments are both described by various contributors to this volume as technology-mediated multimodal spaces (e.

In AT terms she is performing an action (see the discussion of Level II by Müller-Hartmann and Schocker-v. However. What does this trend reflect? For the teachers who are creating these lessons this technology has been normalized. Her choice is partly conditioned by her circumstances. One example is provided by English Lab (http://www.englishlab. Kukulska-Hulme & Shield. Her decision-making process was based on an analysis of her students’ needs. Anastasia’s learners are mainly interested in gaining qualifications which enable them to study abroad. Skype & WizIQ) for her distance-based teaching. She chose to design pages which focused on developing her students’ skills on Part 2 of the IELTS speaking test (a short talk). Telles & Vassallo. Anastasia is doing this in order to inform herself about the choices she needs to make to provide her learners with effective tasks. 1994 for some seminal discussion of these tools) many of which are now freely available on the web.1. People are becoming more familiar with Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) tools like Skype. net) run by Anastasia Andros who uses a combination of web-based technologies (Moodle. She may well have . it is often the case that many of these lessons are being conducted by people who have set up and run their own internet-based businesses. but not necessarily about the tools. Ditfurth in Chapter 2). they are also increasingly possible in education institutions. 2005. This leads her to make certain choices in the tasks which she asks her students to engage in. One of her assignments from the MA in Educational Technology and TESOL completed at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom was to produce some web pages that were built around a WordPress blog being used as a Content Management System (CMS). but also relates to the needs of her students. and are using them in their everyday lives. We can see that Anastasia is engaging in the first of Long and Norris’ (2000) six-step process. 2006). 2008. a good deal of online teaching via synchronous audio communication tools is conducted via Skype with a number of articles starting to appear from 2005 (Godwin-Jones. The action of engaging in a needs analysis helps her to make decisions about what she should do with her learners.222 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology a virtual classroom (see Hiltz. This can be seen in AT terms as represented in Figure 11. In fact. this is increasingly the case for their learners too.

In the second she addresses what the task will need to be like in order for it to achieve its aims. teacher processes data Figure 11.Future Directions for Technology-Mediated Tasks Interview 223 Teacher Improving More language satisfied teaching learners How to conduct interviews Current and former language learners Teachers ask questions.1 Needs analysis viewed through an activity theory lens certain beliefs about the tools herself (Slaouti. in this case she makes use of a blog to achieve her ends. In Chapter 10 Hauck describes how a particular set of tasks being used to develop e-literacy skills were negotiated in a team of tutors and how much work this might take. partly as the result of the assignment that she was expected to produce. Hauck’s chapter invokes Halliday’s socio-semiotic framework to discuss this particular task and it would be possible to frame what Anastasia is doing in a similar way. What this illustrates is that she is engaged in two actions as a teacher. They are clearly mediated by her desire to meet the needs of her students and the beliefs that she has about methodology which could be described as task-based. 2010). The first is concerned with someone who is making a choice about which technology to use in order to mediate this particular task. however. and how the particular task design will mediate the process. Hauck is working with a team of tutors in different pedagogical contexts who have to reach agreement about how to construct a task – a process which proves to be much more difficult than was originally . Anastasia is helped in that she is working on her own with a group of learners and the choices that she makes are not being dictated by a particular organization or by other people. students answer. Motteram & OnatStelma.

used different elements that a teacher needs to consider when making choices about how to Figure 11. The local conditions.0 tools. In Figure 11. dictate the construction of tasks in both cases. the sociocultural reality. The course they took made them reflect on how tasks might relate to technology. Collentine (Chapter 6) also provides an example of the complexity associated with constructing TBLT in a synchronous task environment.2 The hexagon model of synchronous teaching methodology .224 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology envisaged. Teachers who took part in the LANCELOT project also established a small business to teach languages online using various Web 2. McLoughlin and Motteram (2006) as a part of the LANCELOT project. constructed by Armellini. A heuristic called the Hexagon model was used in the course to help them do this. Moreover.2 we can see how this worked. but particularly focused around different forms of DTVC. This model.

Throughout any teaching period there is a good chance that technological problems may arise. as from the very beginning instructors need to be able to negotiate their way around the environment. So if you are a novice teacher you may start from this point.Future Directions for Technology-Mediated Tasks 225 design a technology-mediated task. we can see that it is applicable for the use of tasks in Second Life as well. 2009). Although the Hexagon model was established for use in the DTVC world. However. Second Life is a complex learning space. Vignette 2: language learning in Second Life In the second European project (AVALON). It was used as a course tool to get the teachers to manage task construction in a complex multimodal space. learners will be increasingly expected to develop appropriate tasks in these technology-mediated environments in the future. if such issues become a major concern. In Second Life it is difficult to start simply with text. AVALON project members are working with a team of people who are doing a variety of teaching in Second Life. the tasks become increasingly more difficult both for learners and teachers. There is even more of a need in a MUVE to prepare learners for the technological infrastructure needed to function in the environment (Dudeney & Ramsey. it becomes more difficult to manage the tasks. but as Reeder points out in Chapter 9. At the moment. one-to-one. As you move from the centre. For example. the focus on tasks may be obscured. and as you add complexity (see Collentine. working with an advanced learner. despite the fact that both teachers and learners are becoming increasingly familiar with technology in the classroom. researchers have been making use of Second Life as an exemplar for a MUVE. with text-based exchanges where you are focusing on access and familiarization. Two of the courses include Debating and Business English. When you look at the model you need to start from the centre and make choices according to the characteristics of the lesson. if the students are finding access to the virtual environment problematic. produces an easier working environment. The use of technology-mediated tasks in instructed environments must also acknowledge the potential for technical problems such as lag-time when using the web. they can be supported . Chapter 6).

Chapter 8). such as Skype for example. The integration of tasks in CMC therefore can be used to shed fresh . the affordances of Second Life would encourage them to move away from these more basic tasks quite quickly. teachers will become increasingly aware of the ‘situated’ nature of tasks. Deutschmann describes the realization of his ideas in relation to a Debating course. He discusses in detail the nature of his learner group and how he adjusts his curriculum to suit the tasks that he asks them to do in Second Life. they need to be tuned in to the needs of TBLT as well as those of the learners. Deutschmann is emphasizing that teachers need to be more aware of the different expectations of the learners in the group in order to achieve appropriate learning outcomes arising from the task. however. as he shows in his data. These are some of the challenges that teachers and learners face as they move into more complex technology-mediated digital environments to conduct taskbased language learning and teaching. Deutschmann also makes use of AT to support teachers’ understanding of what is going on this context. In any activity system it is never clear whether the different parts of the community have the same idea about the anticipated outcomes. as well as different institutional and cultural assumptions. Deutschmann (2009) points out that it is necessary to have a decision-making process which starts at an appropriate time before teachers begin integrating tasks in the classroom (see Figure 11.3). Teachers and learners could still meet one-to-one and deliver a course. the learners orient themselves differently to the learning outcomes for the course. particularly in relation to different curricula and types of learner. In adjusting tasks for CMC contexts. He factors in different learning outcomes to satisfy the needs of the diverse student groups on the course because. In a document constructed for the AVALON project wiki. This understanding reinforces the notion that TBLT has to be prepared for well in advance and that teacher training is an essential component of the process (see Raith & Hegelheimer. In this context. In a paper with Molka-Danielsen (2009). Deutschmann’s model implies that in order to make effective decisions instructors need to start from an appropriate philosophical standpoint.226 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology with more familiar tools. as Deutschmann suggests.

Affordances: What motivates the use of SL? 3. Learning Philosophical Starting Point 2. Implemention. evaluation and redesign Figure 11. General Design Issues 4.Future Directions for Technology-Mediated Tasks 1. Specific Task Design Issues 5.3 A model for implementing tasks in Second Life from Deutschmann (2009) 227 .

228 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology light on criticisms which have emerged about task-based approaches. The focus on tasks leads to a too restrictive and functional approach. predominantly in terms of age. Tapscott. 2009. TBLT is identified with a functional emphasis on ‘information’. The impossibility of using a task-based approach to develop communicative competence. 3. Ellis (2003. Three Current Criticisms of TBLT Although tasks have been advanced as a way of producing learning conditions conducive for second language acquisition (SLA). this restricts many of the creative features often associated with language education. and ‘net generation’ (Oxford & Oxford. 2. ‘usefulness’ and ‘one-off activities’ rather than creativity. ‘exactitude’. reinforcing that while TBLT has much to recommend it. p. Criticism 1: a focus on tasks is restrictive The focus of the first critique is the claim that by implementing a purely task-based approach. as Ellis (2003. The argument that TBLT is an Anglo-American methodology. 2003). All of these labels attempt to define a new generation of young people. who have grown up with the World Wide Web and the everyday use of CMC. 328–338) suggests: 1. There have been various attempts to categorize this new generation of learners. pp. 330) draws attention to Cook’s (2000) formulation of current pedagogical approaches (by which he means TBL) alongside ‘features of language play’. ‘mundane subject matter’. there is no ‘one’ single best method of language learning and teaching. 1998). three main critiques of the task-based approach have emerged over the last decade. Such an emphasis on functional rather than creative task-based activities is at odds with the much-vaunted ‘digital natives’ – a new generation of learners who are typically identified with the need to move to new types of creative pedagogy. some of the prominent labels include ‘cyberkids’ (Holloway & Valentine. and in addition to Prensky’s term (2001). ‘indeterminate meanings’ and ‘pleasure’. both inside and perhaps more importantly outside .

3. in addition to being strongly influenced by Web-based technologies for communicating. 2. Tapscott (1998. this ‘generation’ is developing multi-tasking and creative higher order critical thinking skills based on easier access to information via search engines and the on-demand video and photo-sharing offered by today’s networked-based society. 8. The transmission model of pedagogy is predicated on a ‘one size fits all’ mentality. 4. The effects of out-of-class electronic literacies are also impacting in a significant fashion on their in-class skills and expectations. 2009) outlined the proximity between the digital natives and the principles of an interactionist pedagogy closely aligned with the opportunities afforded to learners by digital technologies. argued that they bring with them a truly transformative power to supplant the transmission model of pedagogy with one based on more interactivity and collaboration.Future Directions for Technology-Mediated Tasks 229 of formal learning contexts. 5. 6. 7. Linear to hypermedia learning Instruction to construction and discovery Teacher centred to learner-centred education Absorbing material to learning how to navigate and how to learn School to lifelong learning One-size fits all to customized or personalized learning Learning as torture to learning as fun The teacher as transmitter to the teacher as facilitator. viewing them more as an opportunity for today’s net generation to experiment with . who speak the language of digital technologies with a ‘thicker accent’. According to this argument. It is a common assumption of this concept that there is a resultant ‘digital divide’ between this generation of net-savy students and their parents and teachers. the so-called ‘digital immigrants’. Pre-empting a significant amount of later research connected with social constructivism. in which knowledge can be disseminated to all learners regardless of individual differences or learning styles. Tapscott’s work on interactivity also looks forward to the recent interest in the use of digital games for learning. Tapscott’s (1998) discussion of the net generation. This interactionist type of pedagogy is identified with a movement from: 1.

in that the ability to use digital technologies is mediated by a range of variables including race. they demonstrate an emotional and intellectual openness to others. The net generation demonstrates a strong propensity for independence. net generation members emphasize their mature attitude to life and learning. and enjoy exploring the myriad of opportunities available on the Web. 2009). being able to search for and access information which is required by them. and perhaps . In addition they demonstrate ‘free expression and strong views’. This can relate to the content of task-based activities where assumptions about norms and values can influence the underlying socio-political message of a task. and in contrast to the ‘baby boomer’ generation. Maton & Kervin. 1994). socioeconomic class. While recent research suggests that the discourse of ‘digital natives’ is an overly simplistic picture. ‘innovation’. An investigative spirit is coupled with a great sense of ‘immediacy’ and the need to do everything at a high speed. it is nevertheless valuable in identifying the importance of new forms of digital literacy.230 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology interactivity and associated skills rather than as a threat due to their popular image of violence and distraction (Gee. Bennett. In deconstructing the binary oppositions Cook (2000) established between TBLT and creative approaches to language pedagogy. 2007. This spirit of openness is reflected in the net generation’s focus on social inclusion evident in their interest in online communities. task-based approaches may also conceal a number of attitudes that far from being naturalized assumptions merely reflect those of the western educators involved (Pennycook. 2003). Criticism 2: cultural relativity From the ‘critical pedagogy’ perspective. the development of technology-mediated tasks in language education will have to remain cognisant of the changing patterns of communicative competence used by today’s learners. 2008. Unlike their predecessors they are ‘investigators’ by nature. Through the use of blogs and other communication tools. gender. Pegrum. as well as location (Bayne & Ross. the net generation exhibits ten clear criteria which distinguish them from previous generations. Secondly. On the basis of these principles of learning.

it can also relate to the inherent methodological assumptions underpinning the task-based approach itself. its conversational methods. 1998). the use of technology-mediated tasks within a telecollaborative framework can help to alleviate some of these claims by promoting close links between learners and educators in different cultural contexts. in English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers are likely to be non-native speakers and therefore perhaps less confident about implementing a new methodology in the language classroom. Digital technologies can also be used to great effect. to improve teacher education in relation to TBLT by fostering improved access to training and professional development. for example. resistance to TBL’s emphasis on ‘a slow. Moreover. . whereas in English as a second language (ESL) contexts instructors are likely to be native speakers. Moreover. In a foreign language situation. TBL will require a large-scale change by classroom teachers in different cultures. learners have less time exposure to the language both inside and outside of the class. Criticism 3: the impossibility of communication The third and perhaps most serious critique focuses on the inability of tasks to be the most effective method for encouraging SLA in classroom environments. p. Due to a lack of perceived classroom time. as Raith and Hegelheimer contend (Chapter 8). and its focus on learner collaboration and participation. 333). 2001) such that fossilization may occur (Skehan. These include TBL’s emphasis on an anti-hierarchical and flexible relationship between teachers and students. gradual process requiring extensive opportunities for using the language’ may occur (Ellis. As Hauck has argued (Chapter 10). when viewed as an innovative and new methodology in an EFL context.Future Directions for Technology-Mediated Tasks 231 more importantly. Resistances also occur in contexts in which the L2 is being taught as a ‘second language’ and as a ‘foreign language’. The typical prevalence of meaning focused as opposed to form focused tasks leads to the criticism that learners do not have sufficient opportunities or motivation to develop their interlanguage adequately (Breen. 2003. such as Japanese learners of English in Japan.

particularly in the sphere of educational practice and classroom methodology (Thomas. by using CMC to present learners with increased access to truly authentic L2 communicative opportunities with native speakers. it has to become more cognisant of the ways that technology is increasingly mediating many forms of L1 and L2 communication. through tasks. The application of digital technologies in education has been most closely identified with a social constructivist approach to learning. Such processes can be encouraged. whether they are inside or outside the classroom. Tasks in a classroom environment thus encourage learners to engage in processes such as ‘top-down and bottom-up processing. The notion that TBL can create authentic environments raises questions about the protocols which govern the way classrooms function. a methodology that has clear parallels with TBL. in that while they provide opportunities for communication they cannot be said to reflect real-world communicative interaction (Widdowson. Like TBL. as well as of the significance of changing pedagogy both within and outside of classrooms. negotiating meaning. Back to the Future The increasing prominence of task-based approaches in language education over the past 10–15 years has occurred at the same time as the emergence of digital technologies. scaffolded production. 2009). 2001). we can engage learners in the kinds of cognitive processes that arise in communication outside the classroom’ (2003. suggesting that Widdowson overstates the issue: ‘The central claim is that. noticing. as we saw with Reeder’s discussion of the VW of Edubba (Chapter 9) and Collentine (Chapter 6) and Stockwell’s (Chapter 5) discussion of multimodal online discourse.232 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology A second aspect of this critique examines the central claim that TBL can create truly authentic situations for learners in instructed classroom contexts. 336). Few studies to date have explored the pedagogical challenges . p. and negotiating form’ (ibid). lexicalized and rule-based production. If TBLT is to move from theory to practice. digital technologies have been advocated as inherently ‘innovative’ and ‘transformative’. private speech. Ellis (2003) mounts a response to this argument.

towards using tasks requiring an integrated skills approach . communicative language teaching has been seen as too restrictively focused on form during the ‘present’ and ‘practice’ phases of the traditional PPP cycle. and regardless of its name. and towards communication and higher order thinking skills (MEXT. . Science and Technology (MEXT. In Japan as elsewhere. TBLT is still a relatively new approach. sometimes driven by commercial rather than pedagogical interests. italics added) While this trend may seem to present TBLT practitioners and researchers with an opportunity. 11. however. . . In other words. and this is surely one rich vein of research to pursue in the future. (p. 1986). As Stewart (2009) argues in this respect: This change aligns the new curriculum guidelines with the current trend . and until recently communicative language teaching has been central to government policy making in the area of English language education (MEXT. 1989. Culture. In Japan. from anticipated use to underuse and abandonment. these innovations stem from origins outside of a learning context. the focus is on moving away from the grammar-translation method which has typically characterized English language education in Japan. . . therefore limiting actual learner communication during ‘production’. 1989). Sports. In the recently revised curriculum guidelines produced by the Japanese government’s Ministry of Education. to identify one example. structure cannot be separated from meaningful usage. 2008. 2008). and pass through a well-trodden cycle from excitement to disappointment. ‘revolutionary’ or ‘transformative’. As the history of learning technologies indicates (Cuban. . . . a move that provides fresh opportunities for TBLT in non-western contexts. Underlying the new MEXT curriculum is the belief that grammatical knowledge is not the ultimate goal of language study. new methodologies and technologies frequently emerge and are tagged with the label. . Stewart. where resistances and obstacles to new pedagogies are likely to occur. Equally as frequently.Future Directions for Technology-Mediated Tasks 233 accompanying the integration of technology-mediated TBL in nonwestern contexts. 2009). a word of caution from the field of ICT is instructive.

arguing that while now more than ever digital technologies provide the opportunity to transform teaching. 2001). education is therefore less open to the commercialism that drives successful innovation in other industries. Being a national and international political area determined by government policy. teachers make choices that are based on the particular. To a certain extent these factors are also applicable to the types of resistance found towards new pedagogies such as TBL: 1. it is important that when confronted with choices about the future direction of technology-mediated tasks. 323–324) Given such a context. the management structures of educational institutions tend to be more hierarchical. Education systems are essentially conservative networks that do not change or adapt quickly. (pp. 2. institutional factors resist the types of changes which are necessary. less entrepreneurial and less able to adapt to change. 3. Laurillard (2008) also confirms this view.234 Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching with Technology as the next ‘new’ learning technology emerges. Due to this political context. Instructors are rarely in positions of authority vis-à-vis policy decisions and therefore less able to innovate transformations in the processes of teaching and learning demanded by new technologies and new methodologies. 195). teachers are faced with increasingly complex decisions about the tasks they are expected to use in today’s . increasing access to technology in learning contexts has often done little to promote a fundamental change in classroom pedagogy (Cuban. ‘while technological progress has affected the way in which languages are learnt and taught. Laurillard lists five key factors concerning why educational institutions have not been able to incorporate the opportunities offered by learning technologies with greater success. As Kenning (2007) argues in this respect in relation to language learning. the practical and the possible (Kumaravadivelu. As the chapters in this volume indicate. Educational leaders and administrators are often not knowledgeable about innovative advances in methodology or technology. 5. 2001). it has not initiated paradigm shifts’ (p. 4. Consequently.

K. L. LANCELOT Project Outcomes. J. C. At the same time CALL researchers also need to consider carefully the core characteristics of TBLT described in Chapter 1 and to ground their research in SLA. G.Future Directions for Technology-Mediated Tasks 235 networked classrooms. testing and research. (2001). the frameworks that have been proposed in this chapter and elsewhere in this volume. & Motteram. British Journal of Educational Technology. . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE). This volume has clearly shown that both fields have much to gain from the joint activity this dialogue assumes. (2007). Computer applications in second language acquisition: Foundations for teaching. Learner contributions to language learning. With the publication of this volume. Note 1 The LANCELOT and AVALON projects have both been funded by the European Commission. (2008). A. Breen. Maton.. 775–786. (2001)..php?option=com_content&view=article&id=51&Itemid=71 Bayne. should provide a foundation for research in these combined fields in the future. & Ross. (2006). Retrieved 10 November 2009 from http://lancelotschool. The landscape of technology is constantly changing. References Armellini. S. Chapelle. Brighton. This chapter reflects the views of the authors only and has no relationship to those of the Commission or any other member of these projects. McLoughlin. 39(5). and it is important that as language-teaching professionals with particular interests in technology we also take into consideration the methodological developments which are available to us and to explore them through our own lenses.. S. com/index. it is no longer possible to see how the future of TBLT can proceed without greater consideration of technology-mediated tasks. Language teaching methodology in a live online environment: The hexagon model. Harlow: Longman.. The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence. & Kervin.. As task-based language learning and teaching orients itself increasingly towards the importance of technology-mediated communication. A. Bennett. M. UK. The ‘digital native’ and ‘digital immigrant’: A dangerous opposition.

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78–9. 101. 84–9. 47. 57. 48–9. 28. 83. 68 Applied Linguistics 67. 172. 93. 35. 102. 7. 232 discourse features 95 discovery learning 114 Distance Learning 131–51. 89. 137 Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) 5. 35. 25. 198 Activity Theory 21 chat-based 50. 225 Activity System (AS) 22–4. 204. 232 ELDIT 74 . 19. 100 constructivism 5. 86.Index academic writing 190–2 Access to Virtual and Action Learning live ONline (AVALON) 221. 173 Community of Practice 173 comprehensible input 42. 204 ecological approach 20 Edubba 184. 21. 21 community 21–4. 218 behavioural 5 communicative 5 network-based 41 structural 5 Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) 5. 85. 18–19. 68. 155–8. 219 Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) 1. 133 Bulletin Board Systems 86. 45 Cognition Hypothesis (CH) 107 cognitive complexity 147 collaboration 140 collaborative teacher training 139 Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) 134. 155. 151 audiolingual 5 audiovisual 5 Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) 184 blended learning 6. 71. 31. 58. 219 Artificial Intelligence (AI) 219 Asynchronous Computer-Mediated Communication (ACMC) 84. 56 CMC-based CALL 45 LAN-based 48 TBLT 18. 7 Content-based Instruction (CBI) 185 Corpus Linguistics 111 Course Management System (CMS) 222 cross-cultural communication 5 cultural relativity 230 C-units 124 CyberDeutsch 137 Desktop Video Conferencing (DTVC) 224 digital divide 6 digital technologies 157. 167. 63. 64 Activity Theory (AT) 17. 88. 89. 90 CD-ROM 176 classroom-based CALL 35. 141. 35. 52 Computational Linguistics 79. 22–3. 41–6. 28–9.

219 Intelligent Computer-Assisted Language Learning (ICALL) 63–78. 102 Limited Attentional Capacity model 107 linguistic complexity 106. 55 Initiate. 73. 224 learner anxiety 5. 28. 51. 169 Interaction Hypothesis (IH) 5. 167 e-Tutor 76–8 EuroCALL 180 expert systems 65 Face-to-Face (FTF) 3. 84. 139. 76. 197 English as a Second Language (ESL) 55. 28. 134. 110. 213 intercultural exchange 213 intercultural learning 206 Interlanguage (IL) 124 interpersonal relationships 47 Interrupted Task Chatting Activity (ITCA) 112–13.240 electronic literacy skills development 199 e-mail 88. 159. 97. 109. 200 emoticons 87 enactment 197–214 English as an Additional Language (EAL) 177 English as a Foreign Language (EFL) 88. 56. 50. 66 interaction 41. 141. 156 flaming 52 Flash video 122 FLUENT I 71 FLUENT-2 71 focus on form 43. 28. 126. 79. 29. 58. 176. 69. 154. 220 Index intelligent tutoring systems 65. 4. 150. 119–24. 161–2. 116–17. 126 jigsaw tasks 50. 65. 74. 122 ICICLE 75 implicit corrective feedback 5 Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) 131 information exchange task 43. 166–7. 122 feedback 66. 70. learner–learner communication 149 motivation 31 learning community 29 Learning Management Systems (LMS) 131 lexical density 90. 50. 33. 68–9. 102. Response. 77. 107. 30. Follow-up (IREF) 23 instructional design 193. 177 Global Positioning Systems (GPS) 3 GLOSSER 74 Herr Kommissar 71 Hexagonal Model of Synchronous Teaching Methodology 225 Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) 65. 146 literacy 2 Logo 7 Machine Translation (MT) 72–3 metalinguistic awareness 46. 51 MEXT 233 mobile phone 85 MOODLE 91. 96–9. 219 IBM 218 iChat 113. 56 L2 pragmatic competence 5 LANguage learning with CErtified Live Online Trainers (LANCELOT) 221. 125. 76. 92. 55. 43–9. 107. 48 behaviour 31 collaboration 30 interaction 34. 89 e-Portfolio 2. 183 Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) 19. 222 multiliteracies 18–20 . 108–9.

136 Psychology 219 QuickAssist 74 Reflective Practice 154–73 TBLT 158 video 155–72 RoboSensei 76. 36 post-task support 73 pre-task activities 76. 29. 34. 41–3. 151 Second Language Acquisition (SLA) 1. 45. 42. 144 . 29. 176. 201 new media literacies 18–21. 220 speech recognition 65 speech synthesis 65 Spion 71 SWIM 77 Synchronous Computer-Mediated Communication (SCMC) 28. 204–7 during-task 73 goal orientation 25. 159. 18. 192 Natural Language Toolkit 115 negotiation of meaning 23–5. 137. 135. 21. 140. 51 network-based CALL 41 networked technologies 205 New London Group 19. 105 Second Life 131. 177. 78 Robotky 71 scaffolding 34. 35. 188. 18. 32 task-as-process 24. 29. 45. 185 task-referenced teaching 4 task-related work 27 Task-Supported Language Learning (TSLL) 4. 51 definition 17. 29–33. 41. 67. 107 sequence 24. 31–2. 226 SIM City 181 Skype 222. 179. 31. 88–99. 21. 111–12. 137. 57. 29. 159 task-as-workplan 21. 182. 44. 40. 27. 161 task-versus-exercise 177 types 31. 205–13 Multiuser. 31. 209 completion 24–5. 114. 44. 125–6. Object-Oriented environment (MOO) 200 Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVE) 221. 184. 63. 28. 226 241 social constructivism 5 social media 6 sociocultural 17. 25. 135. 180. 28. 42. 70. 30. 50. 84. 58. 89–102. 21. 151. 20. 35. 108. 101. 134.Index multimodality 85–7. 181. 133–4. 125 pragmatic processing 105 proficiency levels 55 project-based work 33 psycholinguistic 17. 75. 200 online chat 132 online communication 198 online learning communities 29 Open University (OU) 133 oral interaction 54 output hypothesis 183 pedagogic approach 23–9. 109. 30–2 input 145 motivation 26. 225 Natural Language Processing (NLP) 65. 144. 57. 17. 67. 34. 30. 133. 31 pedagogical 17. 219 design 2. 29. 35 Post-task Chatting Activity (PTCA) 112. 200 syntactic complexity 99 syntactic negotiation 109 syntactical features 83 syntax 94 Tagarela 77 Targumatik 72 Task collaboration 28. 105. 19. 29.

177. 102.0 1. 2. 110. 29.242 Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) 1. 20. 197–214 text messaging 85 type-token ratios (TTR) 92 Index Universitat Oberta de Catalunya 139 University of Education Heidelberg 163 user modelling 65 VERBCON 77 video-conferencing 28. 23 Task-Based Learning (TBL) 1. 112. 132. 176. 2. 176 Virtual World (VW) 2. 205 Task-Based Synchronous Computer Mediated Communication (TB-SCMC) 109–12 task-based teaching competences 162 task-based teaching standards 167 Task-Supported Language Teaching (TSLT) 132 TDTDT 78 teacher development 154 Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) 6. 133. 202 telecollaboration 2. 41. 69. 155. 9. 7. 150 Virtual Reality (VR) 2. 131. 10. 18. 197–9. 84 Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) 9. 58. 83. 17. 193. 122–6. 45. 33–5. 218 criticisms 228–32 curriculum and syllabus design 7. 193 vocabulary 93 Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) 222 Web 2. 7. 21. 156 weblog 171 wikis 139 WizIQ 222 Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) 44 .

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