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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Eliciting the language of decision making through collaborative revision of compositions Poliakoff, Nan Karen


Written and oral second language pedagogy have undergone a major shift from the traditional focus on form and end-product to a focus on the process of creating meaning. However, recent research indicates that a reliance on process alone is insufficient, and that specific linguistic and knowledge-related demands must be made within a process if second language learners are to develop proficiency in oral and written expository discourse. Interactive decision-making activities in the classroom may present such demands, but the pre-constructed, somewhat artificial tasks typically included in adult ESL classes are generally directed toward the limited goal of stimulating more talk, without verifying their value for generating the language that is cognitively linked to decision-making. While collaborative revision of compositions has been used to aid decision-making during writing, its potential as a language learning activity has not previously been explored. The current study examines collaborative revision of compositions as a tool for eliciting oral decision-making language in the ESL classroom. Eight adult ESL students participated in two collaborative composition-related tasks and two interactive "constructed decision" activities. Using repeated measures ANOVA, the composition related activities were found to be at least as effective as the constructed decision activities for eliciting decision-making language as measured by five categories of decision-making moves. Qualitative examination of the discourse indicated that the composition activities also offer a context for conscious reinforcement of principles of grammar and rhetoric. The present results indicate that this activity may offer a natural alternative to pre-constructed decision-making tasks, and in doing so provides a context for the integration of oral and written language learning. In addition, by evaluating the discourse of activities in language terms, this research may help provide a bridge between processes and products not only for writing but for communicative language teaching.

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