The role of task repetition in L2 acquisition
Guiral Borruel, Claudia María
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The use of tasks in language teaching has been demonstrated to be beneficial as it provides learners with the opportunity to develop their interlanguage by means of conversational interaction. However, as tasks are meaning-based activities, task-based language teaching has been criticized for disregarding the formal aspects of language. Recent research on second language acquisition has included variables in task design which allow learners enrolled in communicative language learning courses to develop both meaning and form in their second language (L2). Task repetition, which consists in the repetition of the same or slightly altered task at intervals of time, is one of these variables and the focus of the present paper. The aim of the paper is to show, from a theoretical and empirical perspective, that task repetition encourages learners to focus on the form of their speech and thus, to develop their L2 in terms of overall proficiency, complexity, accuracy, and fluency among others. This will be done by summarizing the most important research on the effects of task repetition in second language acquisition in different settings (second language vs. foreign language contexts) and with different participants (adult learners and child learners). Furthermore, and in order to offer the reader a full picture of the role of task repetition in language learning, the paper presents some interesting emerging research lines on the topic, such as the application of task repetition to writing tasks, individual differences and the relationship between task repetition and working memory capacity, and, finally, learners’ and teachers’ perceptions. As will be shown, the findings reported in these studies support the freeing-up effect of task repetition and, thus, that task repetition facilitates L2 acquisition. In view of these results, one could recommend that task repetition be included among the activities used in language classrooms, especially in task-based language teaching contexts.