Child task-supported interaction in the Spanish EFL setting. Research and challenges

Keywords: children, CLIL, cognitive, EFL interaction, sociocultural, tasks


Task-based language teaching research has expanded substantially in foreign language (FL) contexts but most research studies have been carried out with young adults in university settings, despite the fact that FL programs for children are on the increase worldwide. However, there is a clear lack of research-based evidence of what children actually do while performing tasks, which is crucial in order to make decisions about appropriate educational provision, to inform policy makers, and to maximize children's learning opportunities. This paper focuses on current research on children in task-supported programs both in mainstream English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) contexts. It reviews studies carried out within interactional and sociocultural frameworks and shows how children successfully negotiate to make language meaningful, how they engage with the tasks and how they collaborate in different ways during task performance. Challenges and future research directions will be highlighted.

Author Biography

María del Pilar García Mayo, Universidad del Pais Vasco (UPV/EHU)

I am a Full Professor of English Language and Linguistics in the Department of  English and German Philology at the University of the Basque Country, of which I am currently the Head. I hold a B.A. in Germanic Philology from the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela and an M.A. (TESOL and Linguistics and a Ph.D. (Linguistics) from the University of Iowa (thesis: On certain null operator constructions in English and Spanish).  I have been an invited speaker to universities in Greece, Norway,  Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, the UK and the USA. Most of my published work has been on the L2/L3  acquisition of English morphosyntax (generative perspective) and the study of conversational interaction and L2 learning (interactionist approach). I am also interested in bilingual/multilingual education and the age factor. I have supervised eleven Ph.D. dissertations (all of them with the highest distinction and five awarded 'Extraordinary Ph.D. Prize') and  ten more are in progress. I have also served in numerous national and international Ph.D., MA  and promotion committees.

My teaching includes undergraduate courses on English syntax and an MA course on the acquisition of morphosyntax in the MA program in Language Acquisition in Multilingual Settings (LAMS) at the UPV/EHU. I have been awarded the UPV/EHU's prize for excellence in teaching.

I am currently the director of the research group Language and Speech (, noted  by the Basque Goverment (IT311-10, 2010-2015; IT904-16, 2016-2021) for excellence in research in the field.  I am co-editor of the European Journal of Applied Linguistics and belong to the Editorial Board of  the EUROSLA Yearbook (John Benjamins), Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics (John Benjamins), the journals Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism and Language Teaching for Young Learners (John Benjamins), the Continuum series on Instructed Second Language Research and VIAL (Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics). I am also a reviewer for all the major journals in the SLA field.

I am the director of the MA program Language Acquisition in Multilingual Settings ( with access to doctoral studies (Ph.D.). The Ph.D. program has been awarded Distinction of Excellence  by the Spanish Ministry of Education. I was the International Relations representative of the Spanish Association of Applied Linguistics (AESLA) and  a member of the AILA (International Association of Applied Linguistics) Executive Board  from 2011 to 2016. I am an assessor for ANEP (Spanish Evaluation and Foresight Agency) and ANECA (Spanish National Agency of Quality Evaluation and Accreditation).


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How to Cite
García Mayo, M. del P. (2018). Child task-supported interaction in the Spanish EFL setting. Research and challenges. International Journal of English Studies, 18(2), 119-143.