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Title: Investigating the impact of learner codeswitching on L2 oral fluency in task-based activities : the case of EFL primary school classrooms in Cyprus
Author: Vrikki, Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 2746 4745
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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The potentially beneficial role of classroom codeswitching, or the use of the first language (L1) in foreign language (FL) classroom settings, is gradually becoming acknowledged in the field of second language acquisition (SLA) research. However, researchers call for the construction of a framework, which indicates when this use is beneficial for language learning and when it is not. In an attempt to contribute to the construction of this framework, the present study investigates whether codeswitching can be used as a tool within task-based learning settings for the development of second language (L2) oral fluency. It is hypothesised that by allowing learners to codeswitch during task completion, their willingness to communicate (WTC) is enhanced because the function of that switching is likely to be mainly the metalanguage needed to complete the task. Previous research has also suggested that task repetition might lead to greater fluency. However, both teachers and learners may be sceptical of the value of repetition without some form of feedback on the first task attempt. This study sought to explore therefore the value of task repetition with feedback (TR+). By repeating the task with feedback that recycles metalanguage into the L2, it is hypothesised that learners will learn to move to a state of less reliance on their L1, while simultaneously achieving the overall aim of tasks, which is effective L2 communication. With increased WTC and L2 metalanguage, extensive L2 oral practice will facilitate the proceduralisation processes needed for fluency development. In short, the pedagogical package of TR+ on recycled language is tested in the present study as a potential contributor to oral fluency. The thesis begins by relating these themes with the context of Cyprus through teacher interviews. It becomes evident through these interviews that the activities taking place in this context are not tasks in the sense researchers intended. Following the setting of the context, the interactions of 75 primary school learners of English (11-12-year-olds) practising TR+ are analysed qualitatively. This analysis determines whether the package can lead to enriched output on the second attempt. In addition, there is a quasi-experimental aspect to the study. The students were allocated in three groups, each testing a different package. The codeswitching group was allowed to switch to Greek while completing the tasks and had their L1 metalanguage recycled into the L2 when they repeated the tasks. The English-only group completed the tasks strictly under L2 conditions and repeated them with feedback on accuracy. The comparison group completed the tasks once with no language instructions. Oral production tests, used as pre- and post-tests, partly support the hypothesis by suggesting that WTC is enhanced with the incorporation of codeswitching, but no evidence supports fluency development. Nevertheless, when comparing TR+ with no task repetition, the data indicate that TR+ leads to greater fluency. It is suggested that a larger and longer intervention would have allowed more time for fluency to be developed when codeswitching was incorporated. As for task-based learning, it is suggested that TR+ is a more viable way to move forward in real classroom contexts, particularly those with young learners. Furthermore, the results of the present study indicate that this package works better with learners of a certain proficiency level.
Supervisor: Macaro, Ernesto Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Applied linguistics ; Learner codeswitching ; oral fluency ; task-based learning ; task repetition ; willingness to communicate ; second language acquisition