Loading

Header Image Header Image

Complexity: Activity 1


Cognitive demand and syntactic complexity

Please read the information about complexity before working through these activities.

  1. Below are the directions read to the learners before the Jigsaw and Comparison Tasks. Read the directions and think about the cognitive demand of each task. Which task is more cognitively demanding? Why? What might the learner language look like in each task in terms of language complexity?

    Directions for Jigsaw Task:
    In English
    Each of you has a photograph of house in Minnesota. Start by briefly describing your photo, and then find three things in your photos that are the same, and three things that are different.  Don’t show each other your photos. For example, you could ask, “This house has two windows.” or you could ask, “Is that house in the city?”

    In Japanese
    “今 私が配ったのは、ミネソタにある家の写真です。写真はお互いに見せないでくださいね。最初にどんな家か簡単に話してください。それから、同じところを3 つ、違うところを3つ見つけてください。たとえば、「この家には窓が2つありますよ」と教えてあげたり、「その家は市内にありますか」と聞いたりするとい いですよ。”

    Directions for Comparison Task:
    In English
    Now look at the photos together. I would like you to talk about who might live in each house. For example, how many people do you think live in this house? What do you think their social class is? What do these kinds of houses tell you about American culture?
    In Japanese
    “今度は、絵を一緒に見てください。どんな人が住んでいると思いますか。その家には何人ぐらいの人が住んでいると思いますか。どんな社会階級、ソーシャルクラスの人が住んでいると思いますか。それらの家からアメリカの文化についてどんなことがわかりますか。”

  2. In Tables 1 and 2 below we list all the sentences that contain more than one verb as complex sentences produced by each learner in Jigsaw Task and Comparison Task. This is a relatively loose definition of sentence complexity. As discussed in the Overview of Complexity syntactic complexity in speech can be measured in different ways. We will walk you through a few other measures in the following activities.

    Referring to these sentences, think about how the cognitive demand of each task is related to the complex sentences the learners produced.

Table 1: Complex sentences in the Jigsaw Task


Sebastian

 

4-5

下の窓が二つがあって、あのー、上の窓が一つがあると思います。

Table 2: Complex sentences in the Comparison Task


Sebastian

 

8-9

でも車があるから、多分ちょっとー金持ちですね。

13-14&16

でも、右の写真はガラージと、あー車があるから、多分右の写真と左の写真と、右の人のあー右の家族の方が、金がある、はい。

29-30 & 32

でも右はあの二階はあの窓の二つがありますから、でも家族の方があの多いそうですね。

36

あの、あのー、あ、ドアの四つから、多分家族がいますね。

45-46

はい、あの南はちょっと金がないと思いますけど、右の写真、多分、あのー、あー、あのー、東とか西とかありますね。

87

はい、建てた時、多分家はとっても小さかったですね。

89

エアコンが二つあるから、多分ここはとても熱い所ですね。

Maximus

 

20-21

多分、でもー、そんなに汚いじゃないから、多分あー、あー、力仕事する人の家かな。

42&44

南… 何か、アリバマとかミズーリの方とかにありそう?と思いますか?

72-73

何か、仕事に行っています、この写真を撮る時は。


3. Now look at the transcripts of Sebastian and Maximus’ Jigsaw (PDF) and Comparison (PDF) Tasks. Using the blank table below, classify nouns that they use as concrete or abstract. Does the cognitive demand of each task affect the learners’ use of concrete or abstract terms?

Learner Jigsaw Task Comparison Task

 

Concrete

Abstract

Concrete

Abstract

Sebastian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maximus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please type your answers to the questions in the box below.

When you have finished typing your answer, click to compare your response with the Learner Language staff response.

  1. The Comparison Task is more cognitively demanding than the Jigsaw Task. The Jigsaw Task elicits comparisons of the physical characteristics of two houses. The learners are asked to talk about concrete, observable entities. In contrast, the Comparison Task asks the learners to use such concrete, observable entities in the photos as evidence to further make inferences about abstract cultural constructs such as social class. This task requires the expression and development of language that is typically used in academic tasks and may elicit the use of more abstract nouns and complex linguistic forms.
     
  2. The Jigsaw Task elicits only one complex sentence from both Sebastian, while the Comparison Task elicits at least seven complex sentences from Sebastian and three from Maximus. For these two tasks, the task with lower cognitive demand (Jigsaw) results in fewer complex sentences while the task with greater cognitive demand (Comparison) results in more complex sentences.

  3. Classifying nouns as concrete or abstract according to task, shown in the table below.
Learner Jigsaw Task Comparison Task

 

Concrete

Abstract

Concrete

Abstract

Sebastian

家(house)
木(wood)
フェンス(fence)
下(down)
窓(window)
上(up)
写真(photo)
車(car)
*ガラージ(garage
テレビ(TV)
前(front)
隣り(next)
色(color)
二階(upstairs/second floor)
*くろ(???)
*パディオ(patio)

事(thing/item) 物(thing/item)

右(right),
写真(photo)
車(car)
*ガラージ(garage)
家族(family)
フェンス(fence)
おばあさん(elderly lady)
おじいさん (elderly man)
*チャネル(channels)
二(upstairs/second floor)
窓(window)
ドア(door)
南(South)
金(money)
東 (East)
西(West)
天気(weather)
町(town)
ところ(place)
お母さん(mother)
お父さん(father)
木(wood)
石(stone)
エアコン(air conditioner)

金持ち (the rich)
仕事(job/work)

Maximus

写真(photo)
家(house)
二階(upstairs/second floor)
窓(window)
*ガラージ(garage)
車(car)
田舎(small town/countryside)
*市(city)
一階(downstairs/first floor)
石 (stone)
テレビ (TV)
前 (front)
木 (tree)
隣り(next)
*つな(grass)
サッカー場(soccer field)
フットボール場(football field)
ゴルフ場(golf course)
*じょう(place?field?yard???)
*パディオ(patio)
*ストゥープ(stoop)

 

写真(photo)
家(house)
車(car)
花(flower)
*つな(grass)
町(town)
木(tree)
人(person)
おばあさん(elderly lady)
おじいさん(elderly man)
テレビ(TV)
高校生(high school student)
大学生(college student)
州 (state)
田舎(small town/countryside)
道(road)
前(front)

年(age)
こと(thing)
力仕事(heavy physical work)
*じょう(place)
場所(place)
ところ(place)
16歳(16 years old)
仕事(job/work)
時(time)
夏(summer)

The directions for the Jigsaw Task ask about concrete entities. Consequently, both Sebastian and Maximus exclusively use concrete nouns to refer to things they actually see in the pictures in this task such as 家(house), 窓(window), and 車(car). In contrast, the directions for the Comparison Task require reference to both concrete entities and abstract categories. Interestingly, Sebastian exclusively used concrete nouns in the Comparison Task also, while Maximus used both concrete and abstract nouns. This may show that Maximus was more engaged in talking about abstract categories. However, note that only in the Comparison Task do both the learners use (concrete) nouns to refer to entities that they do not actually see in the pictures, such as 家族 (family), おばあさん(elderly lady), おじいさん(elderly man).

 

RESEARCH AND PROGRAMS

Articulation of Language Instruction
Assessment of Second Language
Content-Based Language Instruction
Culture and Language Learning
Immersion Education
Learner Language
Less Commonly Taught Languages
Maximizing Study Abroad
Pragmatics/Speech Acts
Strategies for Language Learning
Technology and Language Learning
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Summer Institutes
Conferences
Presentations, Workshops, and Events
Advanced Practices Certificate

ABOUT CARLA

Mission
CARLA Update Newsletter
CARLA Staff and Faculty
Get on the Mailing List
RESOURCES

CARLA Publications
CARLA Bibliography
Content-Based Lessons/Units
LCTL Database
Learner Language Activities
Immersion Education Archives
Pragmatics Bibliography
Proficiency Handbook/Lessons
Spanish Grammar Strategies
Virtual Assessment Center
Virtual Item Bank

LRC Portal
YouTube Facebook
Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) • 140 University International Center • 331 - 17th Ave SE • Minneapolis, MN 55414 | Contact CARLA
© Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer
Last Modified: March 2, 2016 at 13:47