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Please cite as: n Ortega, L. (2007). Social context in task-based language learning: (How) Please cite as: n Ortega, L. (2007). Social context in task-based language learning: (How) Does it matter? Paper presented in the colloquium “Towards an educational agenda for research into task-based language teaching, Martin Bygate convener. Conference on Social and Cognitive Aspects of Second Language Learning and Teaching, University of Auckland, New Zealand, 12 -14 April. Copyright © Lourdes Ortega, 2007

Social Context in TBLL&T: (How) Does it Matter? Lourdes Ortega University of Hawai‘i at Social Context in TBLL&T: (How) Does it Matter? Lourdes Ortega University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Social & Cognitive Aspects of Second Language Learning and Teaching Conference University of Auckland, April 12 -14, 2007

Challenge for TBLL&T: Learner experience matters Depending on their social, linguistic, and personal circumstances, Challenge for TBLL&T: Learner experience matters Depending on their social, linguistic, and personal circumstances, learners do different things with words (i. e. , they do different tasks) with different people in different places at different times. . . with important consequences for L 2 learning.

TBLL&T: Learner experience matters. . . But little has been said about possible conceptualizations TBLL&T: Learner experience matters. . . But little has been said about possible conceptualizations of social context and their relative value for TBLL&T.

Task-based research 1970 s-1980 s~Sociolinguistics into SLA: Ellis’s (1985) Variable Competence model; Tarone’s (1988) Task-based research 1970 s-1980 s~Sociolinguistics into SLA: Ellis’s (1985) Variable Competence model; Tarone’s (1988) Capability Continuum model (also Adamson, 1990; Bayley and Preston, 1996; Young, 1991) Goal: Connections between systematicity, variation, and change, as part of a coherent theory of IL development Context (linguistic & social) as a source for linguistic variation e. g. , Tarone & Parrish (1988), Yule & Macdonald (1990)

Task-based research 1980 s-1990 s~The communicative turn: Long (1980), Gass & Varonis (1985), Pica, Task-based research 1980 s-1990 s~The communicative turn: Long (1980), Gass & Varonis (1985), Pica, Kanagy, & Falodun (1993) Goal: Connections between task communicative demands, variation, and opportunities for learning, as part of a coherent theory of task-based language learning Task as a substitute for context e. g. , Pica (2005)

Task-based research 1990 s~ The cognitive turn: Long (1996), Skehan (1998), Robinson (2001) Goal: Task-based research 1990 s~ The cognitive turn: Long (1996), Skehan (1998), Robinson (2001) Goal: Connections between cognitive demands, variation, and opportunities for learning, as part of a coherent theory of taskbased language learning Task as cognitive conditioning Research on the here-now/there-then; planning & rehearsal; reasoning demands; motivational tasks; working memory. . . R. Ellis (2003, 2005), Robinson (2001), Skehan (2003), etc.

Criticisms all along Sociolinguistic caveats: Aston (1986), Ehrlich, Avery, & Yorio (1989), Hawkins (1985), Criticisms all along Sociolinguistic caveats: Aston (1986), Ehrlich, Avery, & Yorio (1989), Hawkins (1985), Yule, Powers, & Macdonald (1992), Lindemann (2002) Caveats raised by the social turn: Duff (1993), Coughlan & Duff (1994), Tarone & Liu (1995), Foster (1998), Nakahama, Tyler, & van Lier (2001), Mori (2002), Storch (2002), Foster & Ohta (2005), Seedhouse (2005), Markee (2006)

Tasks after the social turn Contingency Social context (blurred boundaries) Task-based L 2 use Tasks after the social turn Contingency Social context (blurred boundaries) Task-based L 2 use & learning (blurred boundaries) Agency Variability

Contingency: Contingent data Ontology? Inferences • Generalization • Particularization (only options? ) Epistemology? cf. Contingency: Contingent data Ontology? Inferences • Generalization • Particularization (only options? ) Epistemology? cf. papers in Chahoulb-Deville, Chapelle, & Duff (2006)

Intentionality Consciousness Goals Regulation Agency Power Dialogue Resistance Transformation Identity Relations with others Senses Intentionality Consciousness Goals Regulation Agency Power Dialogue Resistance Transformation Identity Relations with others Senses of self Social and cultural worlds Affiliations / Imagination

Intentionality Consciousness Goals Regulation Agency Power Dialogue Resistance Transformation Identity Relations with others Senses Intentionality Consciousness Goals Regulation Agency Power Dialogue Resistance Transformation Identity Relations with others Senses of self Social and cultural worlds Affiliations / Imagination

Complementary Variability Psychological SLA theories: Learner-external variables learner-internal IDs Random noise Formal linguistic SLA Complementary Variability Psychological SLA theories: Learner-external variables learner-internal IDs Random noise Formal linguistic SLA theories Central Sociocultural theory: Constitutive of human experience & Complexity & DS Theories: Site of development

Complementary Psychological SLA theories: Linguistic environment Tasks demands IDs, learner-external IDs, learner-internal Only peripherally Complementary Psychological SLA theories: Linguistic environment Tasks demands IDs, learner-external IDs, learner-internal Only peripherally done in TBLT research so far Variability Central Sociocultural theory: Constitutive of human experience & Complexity & DS Theories: Site of development Only recently begun as a line of TBLT research

What to do? Take social context seriously in TBLL&T. . . What to do? Take social context seriously in TBLL&T. . .

Strategy 1: Look to theories that offer social re-specifications of our phenomena Strategy 1: Look to theories that offer social re-specifications of our phenomena

Some theories offering social respecifications of phenomena: L 2 grammar: Systemic-Functional Linguistics L 2 Some theories offering social respecifications of phenomena: L 2 grammar: Systemic-Functional Linguistics L 2 interaction: Conversation Analysis L 2 cognition: • Vygotskian theory • Dynamic Systems theory L 2 learning: Language socialization L 2 self: Identity theory

Strategy 2: At a minimum, contextualize Strategy 2: At a minimum, contextualize

Contextualization = “understanding and documenting the research context” (Duff, 2006, p. 76) Contextualization = “understanding and documenting the research context” (Duff, 2006, p. 76)

Contextualization is a must Continuum of options: Ontology? Contingent data Inferences Generalization [demands well-defined Contextualization is a must Continuum of options: Ontology? Contingent data Inferences Generalization [demands well-defined populations, cross-context replication] Analytic generalization [generalization to theories, not populations; Duff (2006, after Firestone, 1993)] Epistemology? Particularization [understanding singularities the goal] cf. papers in Chahoulb-Deville, Chapelle, & Duff (2006)

Strategy 3: Investigate diverse contexts & populations Strategy 3: Investigate diverse contexts & populations

How much TBLL&T research on: Second & foreign language contexts Varying ages Heritage language How much TBLL&T research on: Second & foreign language contexts Varying ages Heritage language contexts L 1 semiliterate/L 1 oral populations of L 2 learners Disparate social milieus with varying L 2 use needs

Big changes in findings and theories would accrue just if diverse contexts & population Big changes in findings and theories would accrue just if diverse contexts & population were investigated (cf. Bigelow & Tarone, 2004; Ortega, 2005; Siegel, 2003; Sridhar, 1994; Valdés, 2005). . .

But. . . How exactly can social context be theorized (in TBLL&T)? But. . . How exactly can social context be theorized (in TBLL&T)?

Theories offer a theoretical continuum that ranges from externally documented experience to lived experience Theories offer a theoretical continuum that ranges from externally documented experience to lived experience in physical, inter-personal, social, political, and cultural-historical context.

Social context, external or lived? Metaphor Epistemology Ontology Methodology container positivist raw - perceived Social context, external or lived? Metaphor Epistemology Ontology Methodology container positivist raw - perceived quantitative resource constructivist etic - emic qualitative source Critical pragmatic general – particular naturalistic data homogeneous – variable elicited data Site of struggle, to be transformed

So, yes, there are options, but. . . To me, the importance for L So, yes, there are options, but. . . To me, the importance for L 2 learning of diverse experiences in TBLL&T resides less in externally documented experience or fixed environmental encounters and more in experience that is lived, made sense of, negotiated, contested, and claimed by learners in their physical, interpersonal, social, cultural, and historical context. (Ortega, 2006)

How does social context matter in TBLL&T? Education Context Lived, not raw Contextualization A How does social context matter in TBLL&T? Education Context Lived, not raw Contextualization A must Diverse contexts A must Prioritize: students, teachers, programs TBLL&T reclaimed Negotiate: values, social impact, research choices Research Epistemology Diverse Methodology Range of choices & continua Ethics Critical pragmatism

What we think we’d like to see: n Tasks as education events n Reclaiming What we think we’d like to see: n Tasks as education events n Reclaiming the discourse of TBLL&T Martin, Gin, John, & Lourdes

The unbearable ineludibility of the social context “[Studying L 2 learning] is in many The unbearable ineludibility of the social context “[Studying L 2 learning] is in many ways similar to painting a chameleon. Because the animal’s colors depend on its physical surroundings, any one representation becomes inaccurate as soon as that background changes. ” Adapted from Tucker (1999, pp. 208 -209), who found it in Donato (1998), who took it from Hamayan (n. d. given). . . And it could also have been written by Tarone!

Thank You lortega@hawaii. edu Chamaleon and books in Kafue National Park, Zambia. Photo from Thank You [email protected] edu Chamaleon and books in Kafue National Park, Zambia. Photo from http: //www. knoware. co. uk/Travelogues/Zambia%20 and%20 Botswana/Day%2001. htm

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