- vol.5, pp.31-40, 1994
This paper examines 'cognitive demands' of tasks as a possible cause of interlanguage(IL) variability. It begins with the definition of cognitive demands, and goes on to investigate their influence on cognitive operations involved in speech production. It will be suggested that the level of cognitive demands may be one of the external determinants of the learner's variable use of linguistic knowledge. This paper then identifies and examines several elements of cognitive demands, while simultaneously seeking to establish an analytic frame for assessing pedagogic tasks in terms of these demands. Such aspects as the degree of abstractions which tasks require the learner to make, and the range of meanings which tasks allow the learner to express, will be discussed. Finally, this paper specifies the danger inherent in 'unrestrained' forms of task-based approaches to second language(L2) teaching, and then suggests that regulating cognitive demands may be one way of evading that danger.