Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, JAL Vol 3, No 1 (2006)

Task and play in the words and minds of children

Yongho Kim, David Kellogg
Issued Date: 14 Sep 2015


This paper is a critical appreciation of the increasingly common practice of using tasks which focus on the pragmatics of language use rather than the semantics of language usage in primary level foreign language learning. We examine, sympathetically, the reasoning behind it but find that the language classroom is no place to try to differentiate strictly between a focus on form and a focus on meaning. The same thing holds true for the playground. We contend that rote-play, role-play and rule-based games form a recognizable sequence of development, and we use a modest body of data to demonstrate noticeable cross-sectional differences: the same group of children will use more complete utterances in chants and songs compared to role-play, rule-based games and a questionnaire survey task. Our task-based activity gives even less complete structures and turns out to be rather heavily teacher-centred, and we attribute this to the necessity of presenting both rules that are constitutive of the activity (such as game rules) and precepts oriented towards a single, specific result. On this basis, we argue that play may offer more scope for creativity as well as a more psychological realistic model for primary language learning.

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DOI: 10.1558/japl.v3i1.25


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