International Journal of Applied Linguistics

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

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.

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