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The Role of Individual and Social Variables in Oral Task Performance

Zoltán Dörnyei University of Nottingham and

Judit Kormos Eötvös University, Budapest

Language Teaching Research 4,3 (2000);pp.275–300

Reviewed by: Sri Hastuti Novila A.S University of Mataram

  1. Summary

Teaching language instruction process is not always running well. The teacher might find some problems in teaching the language itself, so that the teacher should look for how the way s/he delivers the materials well and it can make students comprehension is quite good. Delivering the material not only by explaining the content of the language knowledge, but it must put the next activity which can make sure that the students have understood about the materials or not. Pauline Foster and Peter Skehan (1999:215) think that the challenge in language instruction, and the justification for the role of the teacher, is that it can efficiently induce learners to be able to do things with language that they could not do before. According to Foster and Skehan, we can say that the teacher should solve the challenge in language instruction to make the student know what the function of language is, then what their purpose in learning the language. To answer the challenge in language instruction is by giving an approach such as according to Howatt (1984), and one of approach which should be used is task.

According to Pica, (1997) ‘task’ is seen as a construct of equal importance to second language acquisition (SLA) researchers and to language teachers. Then, ‘Task’ is both a means of clinically eliciting samples of learner language for purposes of research (Corder, 1981) and a device for organizing the content and methodology of language teaching (Prabhu, 1987). However, as Bygate, Skehan and Swain (2000b) point out, ‘task’ is viewed differently depending on whether the perspective is that of research or pedagogy. By looking some definition of task above, according to Ellis (2000:193) Researchers, for example, may view a task in terms of a set of variables that impact on performance and language acquisition whereas teachers see it as a unit of work in an overall scheme of work. On one side we can see the definition cited from Bygate (1999: 186) the term ‘task’ is defined as ‘bounded classroom activities in which learners use language communicatively to achieve an outcome, with the overall purpose of learning language’. This definition implies that, whatever the task, it simultaneously sets two challenges: on the one hand, to use language (for whatever communicative purpose); and on the other hand, to contribute in some way to language learning.

According with Willis (1996) argues that task-based learning ‘combines the best insights from communicative language teaching with an organized focus on language form’ (p. 1) and Skehan (1998b) asserts that ‘instruction in which learners are given tasks to complete in the classroom makes the assumption that transacting tasks in this way will engage naturalistic acquisitioned mechanisms, cause the underlying interlanguage system to be stretched, and drive development forward’ (p. 95). According to those, we can say language instruction should involve the communicative activities making the student know about language used. Furthermore, task performance is one of ways to reach that goal, because task performance will facilitate the students to comprehend language used. Hence, the teacher should give the appropriate task performance for the student to make learning more effective in learning process. In line with Lynch , et al. (2000 : 222 ), the task performance is the belief that the best way to promote effective learning is by setting up classroom tasks that reflect as far as possible the real-world tasks which the learners perform, or will perform. Task performance is seen as rehearsal for interactions to come, be they professional or social (Krahnke, 1987).

  1. Review

In oral task performance, the role of motivation and social situation can make good task for student. The motivation and task performance are related each other, as we know motivation is one of important factor in language acquisition. In line with Spratt, et al. (2002:245) they conclude that motivation is a main factor to influences the desire of learners in language learning. In the L2 field, the study of the role of motivation in second language acquisition has been a prominent research area (for recent review, see Dörnyei, in press). According to Dörnyei, Zoltan et al. (2000:277) With respect to the affective dimension of task performance, the first thing we need to note is that none of the traditional ‘feeder’ disciplines of L2 studies in this area (e.g. motivational, educational and social psychology) have been much concerned with researching affective task characteristics. Such as Dickinson (p.171) he thinks that the success of learning is because of your greater motivation. The language acquisition motivation that refer to the understanding the language learners, how the learners’ behaviour in the classroom are, so that the teacher can decide the form of task which is appropriate for the learner. Accordingly, Dörnyei and Ottó (1998) have developed a Process Model of student motivation, which views motivation as being associated with a complex mental process that involves, among other things, initial planning, intention formation, task generation, task implementation, action control and outcome evaluation. Thus, this conceptualization centers the wide array of relevant motivational influences on task performance, and does this around a temporal axis, portraying motivational processes as they happen in time.

Social situation really influences the task performance, it is caused the social situation can portray how people interact and co-operate in various small group formation. Second language acquisition by using task performance prefers to make it in the group not by individual, because it will show the behavior and the ability of the learner in using the language and how they communicate with the other. In line with Clément, Dörnyei and Noels (1994) have produced empirical evidence that perceived group cohesiveness substantially con- tributes to language learners’ motivation complex and correlates significantly with various language criterion measures. According this, we can say that how people interact and co-operate in various small group formations, such as work groups engaged in problem-solving tasks or leadership teams making decisions is the role of sociale variable in oral task performance. Making group in language instruction is one way to make the students learning cooperatively, they will not only comprehend about the material, but also they will understand about their group and know how to interact with each other. ‘Groups’ have been found to develop their own idiosyncratic internal structure (i.e. intermember relations, status hierarchy, group norms and role system), which has a significant bearing on the productivity and performance of the individual members (Forsyth, 1998). The best documented effect of this type has been that between group cohesiveness and group performance (Gully, Devine and Whitney, 1995; Mullen and Copper, 1994), with cohesiveness being both a prerequisite for and predictor of increased productivity. Furthermore, the language acquisition is better from social activities.

According to Swain, et al. (2000) they observed that giving task by using L1 rather than L2. They gave task by making pair for the learners. It caused they think that it is more effective to make the learner in group than individual in doing their presentation in front of their friends. It will make the collaboration and the behavior of student closed each other. Ellis (2000) says that the role-taking dimension concerns the ability of the participants to take account of their communicative partners in order to achieve intersubjectivity. They must be able to recognize the 204 Task-based research and language pedagogy importance of the other speaker’s perspective, to make inferences about the other speaker’s perspective, to take these inferences into account when encoding a message and to attend to the feedback provided by the other speakers in order to monitor output accordingly. As the result where the teacher giving task by using communicative partners, the learners must understand what the partner means or inform to them, then can give feedback appropriately, so that the communication can run well without any misunderstanding.

  1. Conclusion

In conclusion, task is one of good approach in language acquisition, and one of the based task is oral task performance that can show how the learner performance of language that they are learned. Oral task performance focuses on the communicative competence which prefers to show how the learner uses the language in their activities. Oral task performance put on in social situation such as explained above, because the social situation is really supported the improving of learners’ ability. By putting on in group or partner, they will show their collective behavior and will make good collaborative in doing communication. It is a task performance that surely makes the student how the way they use the language. The task must base on performance of language, so that it make the student should be active and communicative in using the language that they are learned. As the result, social situation in oral task performance really supports the ability of student in language acquisition.

  1. References:

  1. Dörnyei, Zoltán and Judit Kormos. 2000. The role of individual and social variables in oral task performance. UK. University of Nottingham

  2. Ellis, Rod. 2000. Task-based research and language

Pedagogy. New Zealand. University of Auckland

  1. Swain, Merrill and Sharon Lapkin. 2000. Task-based second language learning: the uses of the first language. Toronto. University of Toronto

  2. Bygate, Martin. 1999. Quality of language and purpose of task: patterns of learners’ language on two oral communication tasks. UK. University of Leeds