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TASK COMPLEXITY, LANGUAGE-RELATED EPISODES, AND PRODUCTION OF L2 SPANISH VOWELS

  • Megan Solon (a1), Avizia Y. Long (a2) and Laura Gurzynski-Weiss (a3)
Abstract

This study tests the theoretical predictions regarding effects of increasing task complexity (Robinson, 2001a, 2001b, 2007, 2010; Robinson & Gilabert, 2007) for second language (L2) pronunciation. Specifically, we examine whether more complex tasks (a) lead to greater incidence of pronunciation-focused language-related episodes (LREs) and (b) positively impact accuracy of phonetic form during task completion. Seventeen dyads of intermediate L2 Spanish learners completed simple (+few elements) and complex (-few elements) information-gap map tasks in which the pronunciation of Spanish vowels was made task essential through the inclusion of minimal pair street names (e.g., Calle Copa “Copa Street” and Calle Capa “Capa Street”). Results revealed no statistical difference in learner-produced pronunciation-related LREs in the simple and complex tasks. Vowel production, however, moved in a targetlike direction for one of five segments (/e/) during the complex task. Results therefore point to some benefits of task complexity manipulations for L2 pronunciation.

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Corresponding author
*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Megan Solon, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, Humanities 216, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12222. E-mail: msolon@albany.edu
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We would like to thank the instructors who permitted us to use their classes for data collection as well as the students who partook in the study’s activities. We also thank all contributors to this issue and audience members at the 2015 TBLT Conference colloquium for their feedback on the original presentation. Thanks also go to the Indiana Statistical Consulting Center at Indiana University for its assistance with the statistical analyses. Finally, we extend our thanks to the SSLA editors and anonymous reviewers whose comments greatly improved the manuscript. All remaining errors are our own.

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