Referential Communication Tasks
By George Yule
Routledge – 1997 – 136 pages
Referential communication is the term given to communicative acts, generally spoken, in which some kind of information is exchanged between one speaker and another. This information exchange is typically dependent on successful acts of reference, whereby entities (human and non-human) are identified (by naming or describing), are located or moved relative to other entities (by giving instructions or directions), or are followed through sequences of locations and events (by recounting an incident or a narrative). These "activities" are examples of events that are more typically described as "tasks" in the area of second language studies. These might be real world tasks encountered in everyday experience or pedagogical tasks specifically designed for second language classroom use.
This volume comprehensively documents and describes the veritable explosion of task-based research in language acquisition. In a succinct, yet easily accessible fashion, it presents the origins, principles, and key distinctions of referential communication research in first and second language studies, complete with exhaustive analyses and illustrations of different types of materials. The author also describes and evaluates different choices for using or modifying these materials, provides analytic frameworks for focusing on various aspects of the data elicited by these tasks, and includes an extensive bibliography plus an appendix showing original task materials.
"Yule's succinct summary of referential communication tasks discusses the key methodological issues of task design within a broad theoretical framework…"
"This text provides lively and comprehensive coverage of the nature, background, and use of referential communication tasks."
—Studies in Second Language Acquisition
"…there is no doubt that this book is an excellent introduction to this particular research instrument in SLA. It is also valuable for classroom practitioners who want to understand the research and develop referential tasks for instructional purposes."
—Language Teaching Research
"…the author goes to great length in listing examples and providing illustrations. (A)…useful and welcome practical guide."
"…an excellent overview….I found the book readable and interesting. I expect others will find it to be a useful resource as they explore the use of a variety of methodologies for work in language development….Yule presents thorough review of the research literature that has examined the efficiency and effectiveness of participant performance in this type of standardized RC (referential communication) paradigm….the thoughtful description of the distinctions between RC tasks and other approaches to language development should be applauded….Yule presents an excellent discussion of the extent to which RC methodology has had a specific impact on understanding L2 (second language) acquisition processes….Yule's successful integration of results from multidisciplinary approaches requires a precise understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of specific research methodologies. Yule's treatment of this issue is extremely thoughtful."
Contents: Overview. The Development of (L1) Referential Communication. Principles and Distinctions. Materials and Procedures. Analytic Frameworks.