Date of Award

1991

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Linguistics (Interdepartmental Program)

First Advisor

George Yule

Abstract

This study evaluated the benefits of a task-based procedure used to develop L2 communicative effectiveness in spoken English among a group of advanced proficiency learners. Using two interactive information-exchange map tasks, one diagram task, and two intervening discussion sessions, the study attempted to investigate the actual communicative outcomes of interaction prompted by the tasks and by the interventions. Subjects in three conditions first performed a map task designed with four referential problems which had to be solved to successfully complete the task. Immediately following the map task, the subjects in the first condition participated in a discussion session in which the nature of the referential problems was the focus. Subjects in the second condition took part in an intervening discussion whose focus was the linguistic features of the language used to perform the task. The third condition contained no intervention and served as the experimental control group. After the intervention events, subjects performed another map task designed with referential problems similar to those in the first map. Following the second map task, the subjects were given a diagram task to perform. The diagram was analogous to the map tasks and contained the same types of referential problems. A fourth condition provided baseline data for the diagram task by having subjects perform only that task, without benefit of practice on either of the map tasks. It was found that, when the intervening discussion focused on linguistic aspects of task performance, speakers tended to adopt a noticeably more speaker-centered perspective in a subsequent communicative task. When referential aspects of the task were discussed, subsequent communicative performance was characterized by a more listener-oriented perspective. The findings suggested that L2 communicative effectiveness in an information-exchange task is enhanced when the speaker is led to take the listener's needs into account rather than focusing primarily on the form of the speaker's message.

Pages

191

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