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The impact of socio-cultural learning tasks on students’ foreign grammatical language awareness

A study conducted in German post-DESI EFL classrooms


Heike Niesen

The book introduces an innovative way of teaching grammatical language awareness via socio-cultural learning tasks (SCLTs). It takes a close look at task-supported teaching/learning and socio-cultural learning theory and how they are combined to develop challenging and motivating learning tasks. It also presents ways to implement SCLTs in heterogeneous EFL classrooms and evaluates the learning potential of SCLTs against the backdrop of a more traditional teaching and learning approach (PPP). Besides the illumination of the very promising concept of SCLTs, the applied qualitative and quantitative research methods hope to be a valuable contribution to SLA research.
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1. Introduction


1.1 Incentive for this dissertation

As the title “The impact of socio-cultural learning tasks on students’ foreign ‘grammatical language awareness’ development in German post-DESI EFL classrooms” indicates, this dissertation is located within the intersection of foreign language teaching and foreign language learning. Its primary practical aim is to develop effective means of teaching English as a foreign language, thereby enhancing German 9th grade students’ foreign “grammatical language awareness” development. The aim is “practical” in a sense that the “effective means” shall be directly applicable in the foreign language classroom, thereby helping teachers plan their lessons (cf. chapter 6).

To better understand the relevance of the practical aim, the results of an official large-scale school assessment study named DESI which examined students’ abilities in this field are portrayed in the following section.

1.2 The DESI study

In 2003, a longitudinal school assessment study was initiated by the Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and designed by the German Institute for International Educational Research (DIPF). The study was conducted as a national supplement to PISA and limited in scope as only students’ English and German language skills were tested, hence its name “German English Student Assessment International” (DESI). A sample of 10.639 students from 219 schools randomly chosen and of all types was tested twice, i.e. at the beginning and the end of 9th grade. DESI results are of particular interest for the present study as they provide a detailed account of...

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