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Language and Education Network - Research Seminar

Vocabulary teaching from a task-based perspective for EFL young learners in China

Event details

Eileen Shang: Vocabulary teaching from a task-based perspective for EFL young learners in China: A mixed method study.

This study investigated the effectiveness for vocabulary learning of Task Based language teaching (TBLT), in comparison with a Present Practice Produce (PPP) teaching method. The study adopts a mixed-methods design, incorporating both a quasi-experiment and participant interviews and focus groups. The former comprises two pretests, an intervention, two posttests and class observations, with 301 students and six teachers taking part. Pre- and postests separately evaluated gains in receptive and productive vocabulary knowledge. The survey phase of the study involved interviews with all six participating teachers and focus groups with 18 participating students.

Findings indicates that TBLT classes outperformed PPP classes in terms of total vocabulary knowledge gains. However, more detailed analysis shows that a significant advantage for TBLT was only seen on productive vocabulary gains, not on receptive vocabulary gains. Qualitative data showed that teachers and students saw the positive features of TBLT as being greater engagement, interaction, willingness to output, more help in students’ learning process and more meaning-focused feedback in students’ language generation. The negative features of TBLT cite three ‘challenges’, namely classes being difficult to control due to more interaction, the long preparation time, the need for teachers’ higher language proficiency. These corresponded to the perceived features of PPP classes, which were their being easy to control, teach and prepare. Meanwhile, in this study, apart from positive features of TBLT from observation and teachers’ views, the facilitative features of vocabulary learning were also identified from both observation and teacher as well as student perception in the following: context, interaction with peers and teachers’ assistance in the learning process.

According to the findings of the current study, implications are drawn for policy makers and teachers in the education system in China. Finally, suggestions for further research are provided.