Complexity: Activity 1

Cognitive and linguistic demand of tasks

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

Below are the directions read to Raúl and Henry in both English and Spanish before the Jigsaw and Comparison Tasks. Read the task directions, and then answer the questions below about the cognitive and linguistic demand of those tasks.

Directions for the Jigsaw Task

In English:
Now, you have your own photos of houses in Minnesota -- they’re different. First, describe what is in your own photos. After, you have to find similarities and three differences between the photos, without showing them to each other, only by oral descriptions.

In Spanish:
Ahora, Uds. tienen sus propias fotos de casas en Minnesota - son diferentes. Primero, describan lo que hay en sus fotos. Después, tienen que encontrar tres similitudes y tres diferencias entre las fotos, todo sin mostrarlas, solo por descripciones orales.

Directions for the Comparison Task

In English:
Now you should discuss who lives in each house, and what their socioeconomic status is. Why do you think that?  Also, you should discuss what these houses reveal about the culture.

In Spanish:
Ahora, deben debatir quién vive en cada casa y qué es su clase socioeconómica. ¿Por qué piensa eso? También, deben debatir qué revelan estas casas sobre la cultura.

What cognitive demands are made by the two tasks?  What kinds of language forms and expressions might be needed to do each task? (list words and phrases you might expect)

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

The Jigsaw task has lower cognitive demand, requiring only that speakers name the concrete objects they see in the photos, such as windows, houses, doors, cars. Even younger children can do this task. The Comparison task has higher cognitive demand, asking that speakers make a hypothesis about abstract concepts such as wealth and status (what do you think their social class is?), linked to supporting evidence (why?). Such a task might elicit complex sentences such as [hypothesis clause + porque (because) + evidence clause: Creo que es pobre porque su casa está arruinada.]


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