Task Design Characteristics and EFL Learners’ Complexity, Accuracy and Fluency during Uncontrolled Pair Interactions: A Naturalistic Perspective

Document Type: Original Article


Universidad de Guanajuato, Mexico


Over the past few decades, research has shown that complexity, accuracy and fluency (CAF) cannot be promoted simultaneously during task performance because of limitations in learners’ attentional capacities. However, the behaviour of these three language dimensions has been mostly investigated under controlled classroom conditions which do not reflect real teaching and learning practices accurately. In response to this shortcoming, the present study set out to explore the effects of three tasks (personal information, narrative and negotiation tasks) on CAF levels during pair interactions in two uncontrolled English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classrooms. By drawing on metrics which index CAF levels, the findings corroborate that the learners’ CAF areas cannot be promoted equally during the performance of the three tasks. However, by closely looking at the transcribed interactional data, the findings suggest that learners’ agency plays an important role in approaching the tasks, shaping in turn their CAF levels in varied ways. Based upon these findings, the study puts forward the argument that learners’ CAF levels cannot be predicted because uncontrolled classroom interactions are environments where several, yet interrelated, factors come into play. Some of these factors are discussed in this paper.