Macquarie University
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Nature and enactment of tasks for early English as a foreign language teaching (EFLT): a collaborative research project with teachers in Germany

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posted on 2022-03-28, 09:21 authored by Constanze R. Dreßler
The ethnographic PhD case study is set within a collaborative research project in which teachers and researchers investigate early English as a foreign language (eEFL) tasks. Seven eEFL teachers from five project primary schools (PS) with students aged 6-10 years, in central urban Germany have been followed over a period of five years teaching eEFL in Grades 1-4 with a majority of Grade 4 classes. The research foci lie on: (i) the nature of eEFL tasks based on the academic conceptualisations of tasks and on the teachers' concepts of tasks to meaningfully integrate the theoretical and practical perspective; (ii) and on the teachers' task enactments that have been analysed with a multimodal and Mediated Discourse Analysis approach. The conceptualisation of the research focus poses the investigation of eEFL tasks at the centre of texts, accounts and discursive practices. This draws on the idea that social realities are constructed, insight is context-bound and views discourse as social action in which meaning is produced in interaction. Such an interdiscursive conceptualisation asks for an interdiscursive approach drawing on different data types (e.g., interviews, video recordings, observation protocols) being analysed with different methods. Results show that for eEFL tasks a strong emphasis on the students' personal interests may be beneficial to allow the young learners to experience English as a means of communication. It was found that the teachers used basic and elaborate task formats with a focus on role-plays, interviews, poster presentations or story reconstructions.Moreover, the results suggest that the often described difference between a task-as-workplan and task-as-action is also true for the eEFL classroom. Further, it can be assumed that eEFL tasks can emerge within a certain interplay of four key teaching practices of teachers:'doing school', 'providing space for learners to communicate', 'building a vocabulary' and 'teaching the spoken language'.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. The research context and its influence on the overall research methodology -- 3. Task-as-workplan : focus on task concepts present in the literature -- 4. Task-as-workplan : focus on task concepts present in project members' teaching practice -- 5. Task-in-action : focus on task formats in grades 1-4 -- 6. Task-in-action : focus on the project teachers' enactments of tasks -- 7. The nature and enactment of EEFL tasks within the project setting -- 8. Task-in-reflection -- 9. Broadening the perspective on EEFL tasks.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 293-325 This thesis resulted from a co-tutelle arrangement with Justus Liebig-Universität Giessen.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Christopher N Candlin

Additional Supervisor 1

Martina Möllering

Additional Supervisor 2

Michael Legutke


Copyright Constanze R. Dreßler. 2015. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (xvi, 326 pages) illustrations (some colour)

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