Many pieces of research showing that second language learners’ participation in oral tasks promotes (language) learning have been published. However, despite the benefits shown, teachers are reluctant to implement oral tasks in pairs or small groups because they believe that the learners will stop doing them as soon as they are left to control the development of the tasks. In order to explore what learners actually do when carrying out an oral task, the on-task and off-task activity developed by a mixed-ability class of learners during the implementation of an oral task was studied. This task was part of a CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) teaching sequence, in which the content of Natural Sciences and English as a Foreign Language are integrated. The informant learners were twenty-three teenagers who attended class the day on which the oral CLIL task was implemented. They were taking the third year of ESO (Compulsory Secondary Education) in a public, state-run school near Barcelona, Spain. They were asked to do an info-swap (information-exchange) task in pairs and to record their voices. Their recordings were subsequently transcribed. Next, types of on-task and off-task activity were identified in the transcripts of their recordings. The time they spent in performing these types of activity was measured in seconds and percentages were subsequently calculated for every type of activity. One significant result of this study was that most of the learners spent the greatest part of the time devoted to doing the task in engaging in conversation about the rainforest (the area of Natural Sciences on which the CLIL teaching sequence focuses). Another result was that some learners continued to use the target language, English, even when they stopped doing the task.
|Keywords:||CLIL, TESOL, Task-Based Learning, Task, On-Task, Off-Task, Jigsaw, Info-Swap, Cooperative Learning, Oral Interaction, Classroom Research, Collaborative Research, Teacher Collaboration, Dyad|
Research Assistant, Faculty of Education, Language and Literature Pedagogy, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
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