Kim McDonough (Concordia University)
Perceived challenges with the use of tasks in EFL contexts
Even though several SLA theories provide a rationale for the use of tasks in L2 classrooms, questions remain as to how effectively peer interaction generates learning opportunities, particularly in foreign language (FL) contexts. Among other issues, teachers have questioned whether task-based peer interaction facilitates the acquisition of grammatical and lexical forms or provides language input that has new, complex, or accurate forms. Additional concerns have been raised about the use of the L1 during task-based interaction and the frequency of interactional features such as feedback, attention to form, and modified output.
In this talk, I examine these and other concerns that have been voiced by teachers and learners, focusing in particular on the use of tasks in EFL contexts. Drawing on the findings of classroom-based studies carried out in a variety of EFL classrooms throughout Asia, I will explore whether the findings of classroom-based research have confirmed these concerns or whether the findings warrant a more positive outlook on tasks. I will also highlight design and implementation factors that may help overcome perceived barriers to the use of tasks in FL contexts. Finally, I will outline topics for further research that would provide teachers with concrete information to help them make pedagogical decisions about the use tasks in their FL classrooms.