McClure Task Design | English As A Second Or Foreign Language | Educational Assessment

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Running head: A CORPUS-INFORMED ONLINE WRITING TASK 1 A Corpus-Informed Online Writing Task Stephen McClure LING 583 Curriculum and Materials Design for TESOL Professor Xuehua Xiang University of Illinois at Chicago April 19, 2012 A CORPUS-INFORMED ONLINE WRITING TASK Introduction The availability of large, searchable databases of written and spoken language in context, or corpora, provides ESL teachers with a very useful source of authentic input for students. The task design presented here
   A Corpus-Informed Online Writing TaskStephen McClureLING 583 Curriculum and Materials Design for TESOLProfessor Xuehua XiangUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoApril 19, 2012Running head: A CORPUS-INFORMED ONLINE WRITING TASK1  IntroductionThe availability of large, searchable databases ofwritten and spoken language in context, or corpora, providesESL teachers with a very useful source of authentic input forstudents. The task design presented here attempts tocapitalize on this rich resource. The presumed context is anintensive English for Academic Purposes (EAP) writing course.Students are at an advanced level of proficiency; the courseobjective is to help them build the writing skills they willneed to succeed at an English-language university. This is thefinal writing course before they would be taking English101. It is also assumed that the learners are digitalnatives in the sense of Prensky (2001), and thus quitecomfortable with Internet searching and blogging.The task is one of several writing projects in thecourse. Its activities stretch over approximately three weeks.Other projects focus on other types of writing; this projectfocuses on figurative word usage. Its final product (a blogopinion piece on the aesthetic design of a building), becomespart of the student's course portfolio. The task is describedbelow in the form of a concise work plan. There follows adiscussion of the theoretical rationale for the design of thetask, drawing on the relevant pedagogical literature. Thestudent materials and project grading rubric are appended.A CORPUS-INFORMED ONLINE WRITING TASK2  Task Description / Work Plan 1. Pre-Task ActivityT facilitates mind map on the topic of architecture.Ss create basic vocabulary list, with collocations.2. Explanation of ProjectT explains project steps and schedule to Ss.Project grading rubric handed out and discussed.Peer editing instructions handed out and discussed.Homework #1 (choose a building) handed/emailed out.3. Review Writing Topics, Introduction to CorpusSs discuss Homework #1.T introduces corpus to Ss, runs tutorial.T defines literal vs. figurative/metaphorical usages.Homework #2 (corpus query subtask) handed/emailed out.4. Review Corpus Query ResultsSs discuss Homework #2, practice figurative word use.5. Student Research & Writing (online, outside of class)Ss research their building, query corpus for word usage.Ss write first draft, publish on class blog.6. Peer and Teacher Commentary (online, outside of class)Ss comment on each other's writing (focus on content).T comments on each S's writing (content AND form).7. Revision & Final EditSs revise draft, T edits, Ss post final version.8. Post-Task ActivitySs reflect on project, discuss in class with peers & T. A CORPUS-INFORMED ONLINE WRITING TASK3  Task Design RationaleThis design is based on the fundamental assumption thatconducting language instruction through the performance of atask, or an activity which requires learners to use language,with emphasis on meaning, to attain an objective (Bygate,Skehan & Swain, 2001, p. 11), is an effective method toachieve communicative competence. Much has been written tosupport this claim (e.g., Ellis (2003), Nunan (2004)). Torelate the above definition to the overall task at hand:students are required to learn new vocabulary, research itsmeaning (actually meanings, since the focus is on figurativelanguage), and use this language to attain the objective ofwriting an opinion piece on the aesthetics of an architecturallandmark. Doughty & Long (2003) describe ten methodologicalprinciples (MPs), or universally desirable instructionaldesign features, as follows:MP1 Use tasks, not texts, as the unit of analysis.MP2 Promote learning by doing.MP3 Use elaborate input (do not simplify).MP4 Provide rich (not impoverished) input.MP5 Encourage inductive ( chunk ) learning.MP6 Focus on form.MP7 Provide negative feedback.MP8 Respect learner developmental processes.A CORPUS-INFORMED ONLINE WRITING TASK4
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