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Researching task repetition in second language learning: Implications for language teaching


Parvaneh Tavakoli

University of Reading



Task Repetition, i.e. asking second language (L2) learners to repeat the same task, task type or task procedures, has recently emerged as an important research topic in Task-based language teaching due to its significant role in helping develop and optimize second language use in writing and speaking. Research in L2 acquisition has provided ample evidence that task repetition has positive effects on L2 performance and development, with a great potential for activating learning processes and driving learner interlanguage forward (Ahmadian, 2011; Amiryousefi, 2016; Lambert et al., 2017; Manchón, 2014). The principal assumption in this debate is that repeating a task helps free up memory and processing capacity, release attentional resources required during the initial task performance, activate learner linguistic resources, and lead to greater automaticity. From a pedagogic perspective, researchers and practitioners are interested in task repetition as it promises a rich learning opportunity that lends itself to classroom practice, and enables teachers to use it to achieve their teaching objectives. The emerging research evidence on the effectiveness of task repetition, e.g. in promoting fluency of oral performance, has encouraged teachers to welcome task repetition as a useful and accessible teaching resource (Hunter, 2017). While the existing research evidence on task repetition is convincing and reassuring, L2 teachers and researchers have raised a number of questions and concerns, of both theoretical and practical nature, about the overall effects of task repetition in L2 learning and teaching. The focus of this presentation is to evaluate some of these questions and concerns, and to discuss the key challenges L2 teachers face in adopting task repetition and employing it as a meaningful and authentic activity in their practice. After presenting an overview of the findings of research in task repetition, I will focus on the pedagogic implications of research in this area, highlighting some key questions L2 teachers and researchers need to attend to if developing task repetition as an effective teaching and research tool is expected.

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