Towards evaluating interactivity in video-based task design: a perspective from computer-based L2 listening

Fahad Ahmed Otaif (Department of English, College of Languages and Translation, King Khalid University, Abha, Saudi Arabia)

Saudi Journal of Language Studies

ISSN: 2634-243X

Article publication date: 4 May 2021

Issue publication date: 24 August 2021




With the growing use of technology in second language learning (L2), many techniques of incorporating digital video in L2 learning and platforms of task implementation appear in the field, however, with little, if any, research on how tasks can be designed and developed in these contexts. Based on Chapelle (2001, 2014) task design criteria, the current paper evaluates specifically the “interactivity” of task design interface and how it may contribute towards either dispersing or directing the learners' attention (Robinson, 2011) during the process of task completion in video-based L2 listening.


Using a qualitative approach – mainly focus groups and interviews – the current study evaluated a number of tasks that were used for computer-based L2 listening when digital video is the mode of presentation. The participants, i.e. English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers and learners, were presented with a number of task designs to try and evaluate.


The findings revealed that some task designs are perceived to be less interactive and can disperse the learner's attentional resources during the process of task completion. They also shed light on the importance of improving EFL teachers' current practices of task design in computer-based L2 listening.


This paper has contributed to our growing understanding of interactivity in relation to video-based learning and its task designs.



Otaif, F.A. (2021), "Towards evaluating interactivity in video-based task design: a perspective from computer-based L2 listening", Saudi Journal of Language Studies, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 26-39.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Fahad Ahmed Otaif


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With the growing use of technology in language learning, many techniques of incorporating digital video in L2 learning and platforms of task implementation appear in the field, however, with little, if any, research on how tasks are designed and developed in these contexts (Ziegler, 2016). Despite the fact that the concern of arriving at a valid instructional task design has been central to research in computer-assisted language learning (CALL) (Chapelle, 1998, 2001, 2003) and technology-mediated learning (González-Lloret and Ortega, 2014), more research is still required to evaluate the design of tasks and their implementations (Chapelle, 2014; González-Lloret, 2017) more particularly in relation to computer-based L2 listening when digital video is the mode of presentation, (c.f. Campoy-Cubillo, 2015; Campoy-Cubillo and Querol-Julián, 2016; Casañ Núñez, 2017; Otaif, 2018; Alghamdi et al., 2018). The current paper, based on a qualitative approach, evaluates one aspect of the many facets of task design in technology-mediated learning, which is that of focus on meaning and the learners' attentional resources (Chapelle, 2001, 2003) in “interactive” video-based L2 listening. I ground this research on Chapelle's (2001) criteria for task design evaluation in CALL (2001). The aim of this preliminary paper – which is a part of an ongoing project (c.f. Otaif, 2018; Alghamdi et al., 2018) – is to understand how different task designs may influence task completion and performance in computer-based L2 listening when digital video is the mode of presentation.

Instructional task design in CALL

Instructional design (Seel et al., 2017) refers to the systemic building, organisation and evaluation of instruction and material – which utilises technology – based on a theory of learning (Morales et al., 2011, p. 79) e.g. the interactionist SLA (Second Language Acquisition) (Pica, 1994; Chapelle, 1998, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2014). In modern language learning environments, computer-based L2 listening has become almost the norm; previous research has indicated that CALL provides interactionist-learning opportunities (Chapelle, 1998; Jeon-Ellis et al., 2005; González-Lloret and Ortega, 2014; González-Lloret, 2017) which can enhance the L2 learners' linguistic competence' (Lin, 2014) through various modalities such as videos and pictorial modalities (Al-Seghayer, 2001; Chapelle, 2003) and multimedia learning such as video (Mayer, 2009). This was found to be the case in many L2 listening research such as (Handoyo and Cirocki, 2015 and Casañ Núñez, 2017). However, future research in L2 listening should first have “a determination to understand how teaching and assessment processes can support learners in their development of a skill that many find challenging even after many years of learning a language” (Goh and Aryadoust, 2016, p. 6). In this vein, more research is still needed to evaluate how a task design and its implementation in computer-based L2 listening – when digital video is the mode of presentation – can promote L2 learning (c.f. Campoy-Cubillo, 2015; Campoy-Cubillo and Querol-Julián, 2016; Casañ Núñez, 2017; Otaif, 2018; Alghamdi et al., 2018).

Within CALL design, tasks are, in fact, the building blocks for lessons (Gruba and Hinkelman, 2012), given their importance, therefore, previous literature have focussed specifically on developing criteria for task design to be effective and interactive (Chapelle, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014; Doughty and Long's, 2003; Gonzalez-Lloret, 2003; Gruba, 2004; González-Lloret and Ortega, 2014; González-Lloret, 2017 and others).

For example, Chapelle (1998) utilised seven SLA hypotheses through which a CALL software can be designed. These hypotheses formed the early bases of her recent task design criteria for CALL (Chapelle, 2014). Chapelle's (1998) criteria for CALL design were developed based on well-established theories of SLA which are concerned with the importance of learner's conscious noticing of the L2 input (Schmidt, 1990) through (1) providing opportunities for interaction with the L2 input (Long, 1983, 1989) such as feedback, modification and repetition requests and (2) enhancing the L2 input through making its linguistics characteristics more salient (Sharwood-Smith, 1993) e.g. (changing the font shape, size or colour) (c.f. Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba, 2010). Most importantly to the scope of the current paper is to evaluate how – in reality – such interaction opportunities are configured in existing CALL task design(s) in the context of L2 listening when digital video is the mode of presentation.

Chapelle (1998, p. 26) has an early recognition of this and stated that “CALL developers need to consider how software can provide learners with opportunities believed to facilitate SLA” such as focus on meaning (Chapelle, 2001, 2014). In her task design evaluation framework, she suggested checklist criteria for researchers to check when evaluating a specific task; these are (1) Authenticity: Does the designed task resemble real-life language use, i.e. listening? (2) Focus on meaning: Is the designed task main focus on meaning? (3) Learner fit: Is the input of the designed task suitable for the targeted learners- despite the individual differences they have? (4) L2 learning potential: Does the designed task provide L2 learning potential? (5) Positive impact: reflective learning and feedback: Does the designed task lead to a positive impact on L2 learning in general and the task's learning goals in specific?/ Does the task design provide you with information about the learner's performance? How? 7) Practicality: is the task design practical? Are there any problems or areas of improvements in the task design?

In this regard, focus on meaning is an essential element in L2 listening which is a purpose-driven activity (Brown, 2017) that depends on efficient meaning processing (Rost, 2016) of the aural and visual stimuli perceived (Rubin, 1995) e.g. video-based L2 listening. In the current paper, I focus mainly on how a task design can provide interactive opportunities that preserve the L2 listener's attentional resources (Robinson, 2011) and direct him/her to focus on meaning while performing the listening task?

Interaction opportunities in CALL task design

In CALL, the use of the term interactivity emerged out of a need to compensate for the lack of effective interaction in computer-based language learning, i.e. similar to the interaction that takes place in real-life language teaching. Language learning is, in reality, a social act that usually takes place between two interlocutors or more; one of them is a language learner. The term interactivity was first introduced clearly in Laurillard (2002) then expanded further in Clifford and Granoien (2008). Laurillard (2002) uses the term interactivity in her conversational framework where she stated that the teacher–learner communication must be (1) discursive, i.e. the learner can seek opportunities to clarify and negotiate the meaning from the teacher further if required, (2) the teaching instruction must be adaptive, i.e. the teacher tries to match the individual learner's needs and abilities, (3) the teacher–learner relationship should be interactive through which “the learner should perform a task that will give the teacher an indication of the level of competence attained. The teacher can then make a diagnostic assessment and provide the learner with meaningful feedback” (Clifford and Granoien, 2008, p. 37) and finally (4) the learning process must be reflective, i.e. the learner should have an opportunity to go to the original task and make connections through comparing his/her performance to the appropriate performance expected by the teacher (Clifford and Granoien, 2008).

After discussing Laurillard's (2002) framework, Clifford and Granoien (2008, p. 38) suggested four main questions to evaluate the instructional efficacy of any computer programme that is used for language learning:

  1. Is it discursive? (Does the programme have sufficient capability to sustain a dialogue with the learner, to describe a concept or an action and receive the learner's recasting of the concept or action?)

  2. Is it adaptive? (Does the programme collect and interpret learner input and adapt the dialogue to meet the learner's individual needs for recasting or corrected task performance?)

  3. Is it interactive? (Does the programme provide for both analysis of learner task input and meaningful specific feedback on performance?)

  4. Is it reflective? (Does the programme provide the opportunity for the learner to return to the task and modify the original input?

Despite the fact that all these questions are of main relevance to the evaluation of CALL design, yet, of more relevance to the scope of the current paper are the latter two questions, i.e. 3 and 4 which are basically dependant on how task design is configured inside the CALL programme as represented by its interface in computer-based L2 listening. Therefore, based on Chapelle (1998, 2001), Laurillard (2002) and Clifford and Granoien (2008), I restrict the use of the term interactivity in the current paper to refer to the interaction opportunities (Long, 1983, 1989) a particular task design can provide to the learner to focus and negotiate the L2 meaning during the process of task completion as I will discuss next.

In this vein, interaction in CALL can either be with (1) other interlocutors through which meaning is negotiated or (2) with computers/technology through which learners seek opportunities to obtain more enhanced or modified input (Chapelle, 2005). Another type of interaction is called intrapersonal interaction; this type of interaction happens within the learner's/ listener's mind through which his attention is directed to linguistic forms in the input for negotiation of meaning and hence, promotes SLA through task processing (Chapelle, 2005).

My focus in the current paper is on that of human–computer interaction. Human–computer interaction can be seen “through a cognitive interactionist perspective” based on the help the CALL software can afford learners to comprehend written, oral and visual L2 input or the reflective learning opportunities such as feedback and repetition requests (Chapelle, 2007, p. 101). For example, help options in a CALL software can “[h]elp with comprehension, in interactionist terms, provides modified input, helps make the input salient, potentially resolves miscomprehension, and prompts noticing” (Chapelle, 2007). However, the implementation of these claims is always manifested at the micro-level in the task design before it is largely reflected at the macro-level of CALL software designs or more widely the L2 programme (Gruba and Hinkelman, 2012).

In general, interaction with an L2 input – through task design – can appear in several forms; requests for online feedback, clarification requests, repetition attempts; such features provide learners with opportunities to personalise their learning and hence support their SLA (Long, 1983, 1989; Pica, 1994). However, these claims might be easier to implement in traditional classroom teaching in comparison to CALL context; operationalising these claims and providing the interactive opportunities in CALL and modern technology-based learning remains a persisting challenge for researchers in CALL, e.g. (Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba, 2010; Chapelle, 2014; González-Lloret, 2017).

The learner's interaction with the task design can either direct or disperse the learner's attentional resources (Robinson, 2007, 2011); task design that can increase learner noticing of the L2 input can lead to more L2 intake, long-term retention of vocabulary and promote their SLA (Robinson, 2003).

Task design in L2 listening

With the advent of new learning technologies and platforms, the use of digital video in L2 listening have increased (Campoy-Cubillo, 2015; Campoy-Cubillo and Querol-Julián, 2016; Casañ Núñez, 2017), however, with little research task design in this “multimedia” form of learning (Mayer, 2005, 2009) more particularly in technology-based learning contexts (González-Lloret, 2017) such as computer-based L2 listening when digital video is the mode of presentation. In this regard, Gruba (1999) found that when video is used for L2 listening though it is broadly helpful, yet, its “visual elements” might be confusing for “some other students”; this also stresses the importance of providing a needs-driven task design when digital video is used in computer-based L2 listening. In a similar vein, Casañ Núñez (2017) found that imprinted questions in the video image of a computer-based L2 listening task are perceived to be a good task design that helped the L2 listeners towards the completion of the listening task.

Alghamdi et al. (2018) developed a video playing interface for language learners in a design-based research model DBR (Wang and Hannafin, 2005) to explore how language learners while watching videos use and interact with micro- and macro-scaffolding features provided in the task design. The findings suggested that short headings and Table of Contents are better than detailed ones. Language learners seem to use video differently when they find the video content challenging as revealed by the tracking data and the number of clicks they made. It is worth stressing here that these findings were generated from a small pilot study and may not be generalised or extended to other contexts. Lastly, Otaif (2018) surveyed a large number online learning platforms that are being used for computer-based L2 listening in the English as a foreign language (EFL) context and found that most of the tasks designed through these platforms have a number of limitations, i.e. they do not match the criteria of an appropriate CALL task design suggested by Chapelle (2001) especially in the context of L2 listening when digital video is the mode of presentation.

Method and procedure

The question of which research design and methodology to use is dependent mainly on the research scope of its investigation (Richards, 2014). In the current research, I am interested in reaching a research-based understanding/evaluation of how tasks should be designed in the context of computer-based L2 listening when digital video is the mode of presentation. Therefore, I need an informative approach that can enable me to understand the current needs and practices of task design and match them with the theoretical claims in CALL instructional design discussed above. In this vein, recent research studies in CALL instructional design, such as Levy (2015), Stickler and Hampel (2015) and Levy and Moore (2018), have shown that qualitative approaches have several merits in this regard. Qualitative approaches are useful when little is known about a topic under investigation (Heigman and Croker, 2009) such as task design in computer-based L2 listening when digital video is the mode of presentation. Indeed, qualitative approaches have been increasingly adopted and used in applied linguistics research, (c.f. Richards, 2001; Heigman and Croker, 2009; Benson et al., 2009; Stickler and Hampel, 2015). Therefore, the current paper will use mainly a qualitative approach, i.e. mainly the participatory design (PD) method, the PD is an emerging and promising method and has been recently used in designing help options in computer-based L2 listening (Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba, 2010). The method is based on the idea that through using focus groups, stakeholders, practitioners and service receivers such as learners should be involved in the process of design including building and evaluating current designs. The PD proved to be informative and revealing particularly for design purposes in the context of computer-based L2 listening (Cárdenas-Claros, 2012), L2 assessment (Almalki, 2014) and education (Könings, Brand-Gruwelb, 2010; Voohees and Bedard-Vohees, 2017).

Data and procedure

The current paper will evaluate an existing task design that has been used for teaching English as a foreign language in one of the prominent universities in Saudi Arabia. The task design was devised based on a major learning management system (LMS)/platform, i.e. blackboard which has been globally used for academic learning for more than a decade. I will investigate and compare the interactivity, i.e. the interactive opportunities afforded by the task design for focus on meaning (Chapelle, 2001) and whether these opportunities may direct or disperse the learner's “attentional resources” (Robinson, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2011) while performing the video-based listening task. It is hoped that this will give us a preliminary understanding of the practicality (Chapelle, 2001) of the used task design and call for more future research in this regard. An ethical approval to evaluate the used tasks and their video material for the research purpose was granted from the concerned sources. The actual names of the original resources have been made anonymous for ethical considerations (Heigman and Croker, 2009; Miles et al., 2014; Creswell, 2014). It is worth noting here that the scope of the current paper is on the design itself and no major empirical investigations are yet made.

A number of tasks were retrieved from an online course that teaches L2 listening to the advanced beginners EFL learners of English in a prominent university in Saudi Arabia that uses the Blackboard LMS. A single criterion of task design and evaluation criteria was adopted from (Chapelle, 2001, 2014) i.e. focus on meaning, i.e. Meaning focus which – according to Pica et al. (1993) – “denotes that the learner' primary attention is directed towards the meaning of the language that is required to accomplish the task” (Chapelle, 2001, p. 56). The purpose was to examine how the task design can provide interactive opportunities/features that keep/steer and increase the learner focus on the L2 input and its meaning during the task completion/processing.

The procedure was divided into two main phases. First, the PD phase (three participants/expert EFL teachers) and second the trial phase (three participants/ L2 listeners). Following the ethical considerations, all the participants were briefed about the study and gave their consents before they participate (Heigman and Croker, 2009; Creswell, 2014). Both groups of participants were interviewed and video recorded. All the participants in the designing group were fluent speakers of English. Therefore, I interviewed them in English.

First, the three teachers in the designing group were EFL teachers who are fluent speakers of English with a minimum qualification of MA in applied linguistics from either Australia or the US and a minimum of eight years of EFL teaching experience in Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, I was slightly unsure about the students' ability – in the trial group – to be interviewed in English. Therefore, these students were given the choice to be interviewed either in Arabic (their L1) or English, as they wish. Surprisingly, they all preferred to be interviewed in English. Then they were told that they can ask me to shift to Arabic whenever they feel that they are not able to express or understand the exact meaning in English. They were three male 27 years students studying currently their MSc in Australia. All of them were Saudi postgraduate students who studied EFL and have achieved a minimum of 6 in the IELTS exam prior to starting their MSc programme.

First, in the participatory design phase, the chosen task was presented to the design group (i.e. the three experts EFL teachers) to evaluate its design and suggest future developments (see Figure 1 below). The teachers were requested to attend a focus group to discuss the utilisation of digital videos for L2 listening. The participants – in the design group – were also presented with a task design prototype for discussion (see Appendix) and two more suggested task designs that have been developed through different LMS platforms (see Figures 2 and 3 below) i.e. other than the one designed through blackboard (see Figure 1). The original names of the new platforms have been anonymised for ethical and research considerations.

The discussion was structured mainly around the purpose, challenges and the implementation of task design in computer-based L2 listening when digital video is the mode of presentation. Then the teachers were presented with the task design chosen for discussion over whether this task design provides opportunities for focus on meaning or it does not (see Design A in Figure 1). The participants (teachers) were also encouraged to express their own views and experiences on what they think of the task design in comparison to the video-based task prototype (Appendix) and the other two task designs given in Figures 2 and 3. It is worth noting here that the teachers have tried the different task designs given in Figures 1–3. Their feedback and suggestions for future development of the different task designs have informed the development of the used tasks and the research findings as will be discussed in the findings section a few lines later.

Second, in the trial phase, the participants were three students, as mentioned earlier. They were presented with (1) a 2-min video task which includes task items/questions at the beginning of the video, i.e. to the left side of the computer screen while the video is being played, (2) a 2-min video which includes task items/questions at the end of the video clip to the left side of the computer screen and (3) a 2-min video with intervals task items to watch (see Figure 2). The latter was seen to be more interactive in design for video-based L2 listening task as discussed with the design group in the design session. In this design (Figure 2), learners can play the video, get the video paused when a question is prompted and repeat the video part required for a specific question before they answer.

Design B was introduced to participants – in the trial phase. They were requested to complete a task similar to the one shown in Figure 2. After that, they were given screenshots of two more designs (Figures 1 and 3).

Based on their fresh experience with Design B, they were immediately requested to compare designs A and C for their appropriateness for use in video-based L2 listening. Design C is similar to great extent to Design B, however, in Design C the questions pop out in the middle of the video image (Figure 3) and there are no repeat buttons (help options). Design A, as expressed by the design group earlier, has the questions listed below the video image (Figure 1). The actual names of the newly used platforms have been made anonymous for ethical and research considerations. Both in the design and trial phases, the participants were interviewed and asked five main questions:

  1. How was your experience with the video-based task?

  2. Which interactive design (A, B or C) can help you learn and improve your L2 listening? And why?

  3. Where is the best place for task items to be placed on the computer screen?

  4. In your opinion, which features can help learners to concentrate more during task completion?

  5. What is the listening span you suggest before a new question pops out?

Findings and discussion

The participants' discussion and responses were recorded, transcribed and thematically organised (Miles et al., 2014). The participants' discussion and responses – in the design group – were centred on a number of main themes such as the task design and its perceived impact on the learner's attentional resources and its relation to the help options available in the design. As far as our concern in the current paper, i.e. to evaluate the task designs adopted and their suitability for providing interactive opportunities for focus on meaning (Chapelle, 2001), the participants pointed to a number of issues regarding the available opportunities for focus on meaning and how they are configured in the task design. These can be seen to overlap amongst six overlapping main themes. The attentional resources, the listening span, task items and the video image, help options and opportunities for feedback.

First, the design group (Participants 1 and 2) raised the importance of where the task items should be placed on the computer screen. They all (Participants 1, 2 and 3) favoured the task items to be on the computer screen to the left side of the video (Design B, Figure 2). However, when they were presented with Design A (Figure 1) – where questions/task items placed in a vertical order – they seem to agree that following the video image and answering task items simultaneously may increase the learner's stress and anxiety (Participants 1 and 3). In this way, the user may have a disperse attention; while he/she is interested in following the video image, he/she has to scroll up and down several times to check his understanding, answer the questions and go back to the top of the page to re-watch the video image and complete the task.

Similarly, the trial group participants (Participants 4, 5 and 6) reported that Design A can increase their anxiety and disperse their attention; Design A reminds two of them (Participants 5 and 6) with previous EFL experiences where they felt anxious while completing video-based tasks. While the first questions can be seen simultaneously with the video image being played, the following questions may not appear until the user scroll down; “this causes me dispersion and stress” (Participant 4), see Figure 1. According, to Chapelle's criteria (2001, 2014), this type of design cannot be seen to be a learner-fit task design nor it provides the ideal conditions for SLA to happen, e.g. input noticing. Another participant expresses that he prefers Design B “because the video and the task instructions, as well as, its items can appear next to each other on the computer screen; Design A reminds me of my difficult experience of doing exams online where I have to scroll up and down and pause and replay the video several times” (Participant 5). This comment coheres with Robinson's (2001, 2011) claims about how task design can either direct or disperse the learner's attentional resources. It also confirms the importance of such opportunities in the CALL task design as discussed by Chapelle (2001, 2007) and Clifford and Granoien (2008). Therefore, it can be concluded that a task design such as Design B can help the listener to preserve his attentional resources to perform the task, see Figure 2.

On the other hand, Participants 6 thinks that questions should be designed to appear every 30 s because this helps him focus on the content and respond to the task; he expressed his impression saying “ I have a bad concentration; giving questions and pausing the video every 30 s make me feel that I am done with every part I answer. This makes me feel less stress and my mind can concentrate more on the given task”. In this regard, short listening spans seems to release the cumulative cognitive load that might be posed by the task design and its items (questions) and in this way it can help the learner increase his L2 learning. This confirms Robinson's (2011) claim that task designs may affect the learner performance. Therefore, short listening spans are recommended especially for EFL listening purposes. Furthermore, when comparing the way that task items were distributed in Designs A and B, all the participants have agreed that an appropriate listening span between task items was available in Design B. In Design B, a task item appeared every 30 s before the video pause, however, in contrary, in Design A – as mentioned previously – the learner has to repeatedly scroll up and down several times to answer the listed task items and re-check his understanding while the video is being played.

In this regard, the participants' comments, i.e. the trial group were summarised in three points; (1) they see the 30-s span perfect, (2) they need the video to be paused and the task items to appear on the left side of the screen similar to their experience in Design B and (3) through they see the availability of subtitles on the video image as helpful, yet, they wished to have a specific button to view and hide them whenever needed. This means that the learners want to have subtitles as optional during the completion of their to L2 listening task. When asked to elaborate about his experience further Participants 4 and 5 explained that the availability of the subtilties made the task less demanding because in some places they would not need them as they can understand the meaning from the video image; however, in some other places they needed subtitles to improve their vocabulary and confirm their initial guesses about the spoken language. Though this relates to the importance of learning potential and positive impact of the task design as stressed in Chapelle's (2001) criteria, it also confirms recent findings in the field where Cárdenas-Claros (2012) found that some L2 listeners were against the idea of having subtitles available all the time but preferred them to be shown through a help option whenever required.

On the other hand, Participant 5 found the task in Design B interesting to improve his English; he adds that I enjoyed re-watching the video portions before I make my answer; this helps me focus more on the language spoken in the video before I answer. Design C, which is similar to some extent to design B, was welcomed by Participant 4 and 6. However, Participant 5 does not like to see anything inside the video image. This contradicts the findings in (Casañ Núñez, 2017) where participants favoured task items to be inside the video image (e.g. see Design C). Both groups of the participants agreed that the way the task questions are displayed in Design C can disperse the learner's attentional recourses and distract them from following the video image appropriately during the process of task completion, (c.f. Robinson, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2011).

Lastly, it is worth noting that while teachers in the design group have focussed on the interactive opportunities that can lead towards task completion such as the place where the task items are positioned and what help options are included in the design, the participants in the trial group have additionally requested more interactive opportunities that can give them an online feedback about their performance during the process of task completion. In this regard, Participants 3 and 4 when asked about how they found their experience with Design B, they both reported that it was excellent but they also wish to have opportunities that can allow them to have hints prior to submitting their answers. For example, though they commend on the availability of the repeat button (help option) in Design B and saw it as a very good opportunity to repeat, i.e. negotiate the meaning of L2 input given in the video, they requested to have two more buttons in the task design, i.e. one to monitor their overall performance in the task prior to task completion and the other button to take them to the right place in the task where they committed a mistake immediately after they respond inaccurately.

Though such level of interactivity is complex enough and almost impossible to be configured through the platforms used in the current study, yet it shows how deep and important these opportunities for the L2 listening learning in similar computer-based language learning context.


In the current research, a listening span of 30 s between each task item was seen to be appropriate, however, it was noticed that the interactive opportunities required by the L2 listeners are somehow different to those perceived initially by the EFL teachers in the design group. While the teachers focussed on providing the repeat button and a good listening span, the learners required these and further opportunities such as further buttons to show their overall progress and an optional viewing of subtitles. It can be summarised that even advanced EFL learners need a short listening span, repeat, subtitles and tracking performance buttons in the task design. The availability of these “help options” (Chapelle, 2007) seem to be of essential importance to the task design in computer-based L2 listening. I can simplify this by going back to compare this scenario to the real-life teacher–student language learning where students may choose or avoid seeking further repeat and clarifications form their L2 teachers. Based on the above discussion, it can be concluded that any task design has to conduct a needs analysis that can appeal to the individual differences and preferences between learners and their learning style. Nevertheless, this claim is not easy, it requires co-operation between programmers and applied linguists to come up with a design that meets the learning conditions such as Cárdenas-Claros's (2012) attempt to reach a good task design for help options in computer-based L2 listening.

One of the main limitations of the current research is the small number of the participants in the trial group, nevertheless, it is to the credit of this research that its qualitative findings have shed light on a number of critical issues in the task design as perceived by EFL teachers and learners; issues that could have been lost or not given the right focus in statistically sophisticated research designs. I am in the opinion that such a qualitative study is required (c.f. Levy and Moore, 2018) at the beginning of researching task design in CALL context before a chosen task design is implemented in a particular language learning context.

Finally, a good task design must guarantee interactive opportunities (Chapelle, 2014) that do not exhaust the learner's concentration or disperse his attentional resources (Robinson, 2011) or increases his stress and anxiety. Therefore, many of the platforms found today such as, i.e. the Blackboard in Task Design A, though they could be seen “interactive”, their interactivity is inadequate and limited to be applied in the similar EFL context.

To sum up, in light of the preliminary findings of this study, there are a number of implications for future development of task design in computer-based L2 listening when digital video is the mode of presentation. First, designers should reach a research-based rationale for what is the right temporal and spatial place for task items to appear on the computer screen in video-based listening. In other words, what is the appropriate listening span between task items in task design? And what are the learner-fit interactive features that should be configured in CALL task design, i.e. how can they afford focus on meaning? Where, specifically, should tasks' items be positioned in relation to the videotext? The overall aim in this paper was to shed light, through real examples of task designs, on the importance of improving instructional designers' and EFL teachers' current practices and contribute to the growing awareness of task design's importance in technology-based language learning. Future work will continue to build on our growing understanding of how language learners come to understand task designs as they listen to complex video materials.


A screenshot of a video-based L2 listening task designed through the Blackboard LMS (Design A designed)

Figure 1

A screenshot of a video-based L2 listening task designed through the Blackboard LMS (Design A designed)

A screenshot of an interactive video-based L2 listening task design (Design B)

Figure 2

A screenshot of an interactive video-based L2 listening task design (Design B)

A screenshot of an interactive video-based L2 listening task design (Design C)

Figure 3

A screenshot of an interactive video-based L2 listening task design (Design C)


The Appendix file is available online for this article.


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Fahad Ahmed Otaif can be contacted at:

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