Year of Study in Programme: First

Supervisor: Dr Elisabet Pladevall Ballester and Dr Alexandra Vraciu (Universitat de Lleida/UdL)

Area/Topic of Research: ISLA, EFL, TBLT, peer interaction, productive skills, young learners

Title/Provisional Title of Thesis: Task-Based Peer Interaction in Primary Education: Enhancing Young Learners’ Accuracy and Fluency in English as a Foreign Language

Short Abstract: More often than not, young learners (YLs) do not have much exposure to a second language (L2) outside instructed English classes as they would in a naturalistic environment, which might have an effect on learner language (Bayley, 1996; Dickerson, 1975; Ellis, 1988; Hansen-Edwards, 2011; Preston, 2002, as cited in Ellis, 2015). Therefore, one of the goals of instructed second language acquisition (ISLA) is to facilitate the learning ways whereby YLs could notice, practise, integrate and subsequently make of use the language for communication (Loewen, 2015). The main objective of the thesis, which is conducted within the funded research project The effects of in-class task-based peer interaction on young learners’ English as a foreign language language (PIYLE) (PID2019-107328GB-100) led by Dr Elisabet Pladevall Ballester, is to explore the effect of tasked-based peer interaction with and without explicit instruction on the development of YLs’ general and target forms accuracy and fluency in English as a foreign language (EFL). The study will employ an experimental pre-test post-test design with a pedagogical instructional intervention in between. Quantitative data will be elicited to analyse L2 accuracy and fluency gains and qualitative data will also be included to obtain the learners’ and teachers’ perceptions on the intervention. At a pre-experimental stage, the intervention materials and the pre and post-task materials will be designed. Pre-test data collection will span over the period of two weeks and will be followed by the ten-week intervention, which in turn will be followed by post-test data collection for two or three more weeks.

The results will allow us to explore to what extent explicit instruction of interactional strategies and target forms together with task-based peer interaction is beneficial for the children’s development of EFL accuracy and fluency. Our data may have the potential to contribute considerably to the field of ISLA in terms of understanding the processes involved in language acquisition by YLs in instructed contexts. Furthermore, the findings will have practical teaching implications for the role of tasks and peer interaction in YLs classroom contexts.