Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2011

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Second Language Acquisition

First Advisor

Hatasa, Yukiko A.

Second Advisor

Liskin-Gasparro, Judith E.

First Committee Member

Ansley, Timothy N.

Second Committee Member

Everson, Michael E.

Third Committee Member

Severino, Carol J.


For over two decades, studies on task planning and its role in second language learners' oral performance have shown that the opportunity to plan for a task generally improves learners' speech (Ellis, 2005). It has been hypothesized that the opportunity to plan for a task reduces cognitive load during language processing, thus allowing learners to attend to various aspects of language, and that this enhanced attention, in turn, results in more successful task performance. However, one limitation to this task planning research to date it that most studies have examined the effects of planning before task performance, while largely ignoring the effects of planning that occur during task performance (Yuan & Ellis, 2003). Another limitation in planning research is that findings have been based exclusively on external observation and measurement of learners' oral production; we know little about what strategies learners use that may result in higher-quality speech.

The participants in this study were intermediate and high-intermediate learners of Japanese. They were divided into experimental groups and performed a narrative task under different task conditions. Participants received a set of pictures and were asked to retell the story in Japanese. To examine the effects of planning on task performance, fluency, complexity, and accuracy in the participants' speech were analyzed. For the analysis of planning strategies, retrospective interviews were given to a group of participants from each planning group immediately after the task performance.

The results revealed that there were no significant differences in participants' oral production across planning conditions, except in the area of lexical complexity (participants without a pre-task planning opportunity produced narrative stories with a greater variety of vocabulary than those who planned before the task). A trade-off effect between lexical complexity and accuracy was found when participants planned either before or during the task. Another trade-off effect was found between lexical complexity and fluency for the participants with on-line planning only. The analyses of strategy use showed that second language learners generally selected similar strategies regardless of planning conditions. These results provided important pedagogical implications and suggested useful future research directions.


Japanese, strategies, task, task planning


xiv, 197 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 191-197).


Copyright 2011 Takako Nakakubo