Date of Award

5-15-2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language

First Advisor

YouJin Km

Second Advisor

Diane Belcher

Third Advisor

Eric Friginal

Fourth Advisor

Melissa Baralt

Abstract

Although there has been a surge of research on the effectiveness of task-based language teaching (TBLT), little is known about transferability of task performance skills and vocabulary in a different context such as in a public domain (Benson, 2015; Ellis, 2017; Long, 2016). The purpose of the current dissertation was to examine transferability in task performance skills and target vocabulary between pedagogical tasks, real-world tasks and vocabulary learning in different contexts while utilizing two modalities. Learner perceptions of the effects of pedagogical tasks and real-world tasks on language learning are also examined.

Four lower level English as a Second Language (ESL) learners participated in two TBLT units of study over four weeks: “Unit 1: Discount Grocery Shopping” and “Unit 2: Choosing a Quality Gift”. There were two pedagogical and one real-world task in each unit of study. Transfer was examined in task performance abilities (such as the use of technology and collaboration) and vocabulary use . Collaboration was operationalized as interaction episodes (three types: learner-learner, learner-instructor, learner-unknown interlocutor) and the number of turns during task performance. Receptive and productive vocabulary frequencies (i.e. in types and tokens) were counted and vocabulary learning was measured on a vocabulary knowledge scale (VKS). In order to examine the role of modalities in task performance, Unit 1 tasks focus on face-to-face interactions, whereas Unit 2 tasks require mobile-assisted text chats. Finally, students’ perceptions of pedagogical tasks, real-world tasks and their role in vocabulary learning were examined using interviews, focus group discussions and learning journals.

The findings indicate that transfer was observed when learners transitioned from the classroom to the public domain sites in task performance skills. There were positive gains in vocabulary learning on VKS outcomes and delayed posttests showed retention and/or additional positive gains in VKS outcomes. Emerging themes from qualitative data added insight into learner perspectives, such as the effectiveness of performing ‘tasks’ in public, and other themes. The implications from this study suggest ways that classroom instruction can be linked to social situations, such as stores and many other contexts, for learning opportunities through TBLT.

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