This paper will review theoretical and selected empirical developments in the study of a crucial dimension within the sociocultural approach to language learning: communicative tasks in the EFL context. I will explore the origins of research preoccupations in this domain by focusing on key theoretical concepts of communicative tasks. Building on the concept of tasks (see Ellis, 2003), the focus has been placed on communication in an attempt to “integrate separate structures into a creative system for expressing meaning” (Littlewood, 1984, p. 91). After presenting a journey through the characteristics of communicative tasks, and the prerequisites as indicated in the scientific literature (Nunan, 1991), I will synthesize the theoretical principles informing research on communicative tasks along with the key empirical advancements in this area. This will include the critical assessment of the contributions made to current understandings of the impact of several mediating variables. In this vein, I will explore the empirical evidence sustained by studies in terms of several mediating factors: (i) task type, (ii) task complexity, (iii) cognitive processes, and (iv) learner-internal variables. An overview of some research methodological considerations will be critically assessed, and new avenues for future research agendas will be proposed at the end of this talk.
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