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Task-based language learning in elder refugee education
American Association of Applied Linguistics (2015)
  • Chelsea Jordan, Northern Arizona University
  • Casey Keck
Although a considerable amount of research in the field of applied linguistics has focused on the effectiveness of communicative tasks in second language contexts, little is known about the role that such tasks might play in facilitating elder L2 acquisition (Mackey & Sachs, 2012).  Even less is known about elder refugees with limited formal schooling (Tarone & Bigelow, 2011).  At the same time, there is a pressing need to develop effective L2 pedagogies for this student population, particularly in the U.S., where elder refugees are expected to learn English and pass the citizenship exam within 7 years of arrival.  In an effort to draw attention to this student population, the present study investigated the effectiveness of oral communication tasks in an English language class for recently relocated elder refugees. Participants (n=6) completed a series of picture description tasks targeting present progressive verb forms (e.g., is walking, are watching): (1) an oral pre-test, (2) three collaborative tasks with classmates, and (3) an oral post-test. Task sessions were audio recorded, transcribed, and coded to indicate learners’ use of present progressive forms, as well as the amount and types of feedback provided by both the teacher and peers.  All participants increased their use of progressive forms both during and after the collaborative tasks.  Students whose pre-test utterances were made up primarily of nouns (indicating objects in the picture) increased their use of -ing on the post-test, while students who produced -ing (without be) during the pre-test increased their use of full progressive. These findings suggest that, in elder refugee contexts where explicit instruction is not always feasible, implicit, communicative tasks with intensive recasts may be an effective means of promoting L2 grammar acquisition. The presentation will conclude with recommendations for L2 teaching and research in elder refugee contexts.
Publication Date
March, 2015
Toronto, Canada
Citation Information
Chelsea Jordan and Casey Keck. "Task-based language learning in elder refugee education" American Association of Applied Linguistics (2015)
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