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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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6. Theoretical and practical implications


6.1 Theoretical and practical aims reconsidered

The theoretical aim, namely to combine tenets of TBLT/TSLT and socio-cultural learning theory has been reached. It has been shown that the employment of socio-cultural elements as inherent properties of learning tasks, the “task-as-workplan”102 affect students’ ways of dealing with and learning from SCLTs. Socio-cultural elements have been considered in the planning phase of SCLTs and, further, they have determined the course of on-going learning processes.

To estimate the theoretical value in terms of the overall contribution to TBLT/TSLT research, it is helpful to consider research shortcomings put forward by researchers such as R. Ellis (2003) who state that in the context of “sociocultural SLA”, researchers “have made little attempt to investigate internalization” (p. 200). Ellis goes on to argue that “it is obviously important to examine how participation leads to internalization” (p. 200). The statistical results of the main study prove that internalization has taken place. The evaluation of different socio-cultural and task-related aspects in terms of the degree to which they propelled (treatment group) students’ learning development (cf. chapter 5, section 5.8.2) is a first attempt to extract those elements which drive internalization. However, more quantitative and qualitative research is needed to further examine the role factors such as “collaborative work” or “external aids” play in the process of internalization.

The way SCLTs have been implemented also addresses a challenge referring to students’ reinterpretation of given tasks and the related difficulties when trying...

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