Comparing the Same Task in ESL vs. EFL Learning Contexts: An Activity Theory Perspective

Neomy Storch, Masatoshi Sato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


This classroom-based study examined the role of context in task-based interaction. Identical tasks were implemented in university-level classes in two contexts: Australian ESL (n = 27) and Chilean EFL (n = 19). The learners engaged in discussion tasks, as part of the regular classroom activities. Data included audio-recorded task-based interactions, observations, and a survey. Data analysis was guided by activity theory, examining how learners approached the tasks, including deliberations about language (actions), the group dynamics, and their use of mediating tools (e.g., L1). Our findings revealed differences in the learners' actions in these two contexts, both expected (e.g., use of L1) and unexpected (e.g., the nature of assistance provided). Our study shows that in different contexts, the same tasks represent different learning activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-69
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Linguistics (United Kingdom)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • activity theory
  • ESL vs. EFL
  • sociocultural theory
  • task-based interaction
  • teaching/learning context

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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