Chapter 1. Second language task complexity, the Cognition Hypothesis, language learning, and performance

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This chapter provides an overview of pedagogic and theoretical issues that have motivated recent research into second language task complexity. The first two sections describe how procedures for task analysis, and decisions about task complexity, can be accommodated in task-based language teaching program design. The third section describes a componential framework for analysing task demands. This framework distinguishes between cognitive factors contributing to Task Complexity, interactive factors involved in performing tasks under various Task Conditions, and the learner factors affecting perceptions of Task Difficulty. The fourth section describes five ancillary predictions the Cognition Hypothesis makes about how increasing task complexity leads to measurable increases in task-based learning and performance. The final sections describe how studies of these predictions have typically been measured, to date, and a rationale for investigating the effects on task-based learning of individual differences in learners’ cognitive abilities and affective dispositions. The chapter concludes by briefly summarising the organization of the chapters in this book and the empirical findings they report.


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