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Task-Based Language Teaching Nadja Mifka-Profozić, PhD Odjel za anglistiku, Sveučilište u Zadru Zadar, 22 October 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "Task-Based Language Teaching Nadja Mifka-Profozić, PhD Odjel za anglistiku, Sveučilište u Zadru Zadar, 22 October 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 Task-Based Language Teaching Nadja Mifka-Profozić, PhD Odjel za anglistiku, Sveučilište u Zadru Zadar, 22 October 2013

2 Outline  Definitions: a task, a task-based approach  Rationale for using tasks in language teaching  Focus on meaning, focus-on-form  Activation of learning processes  Advantages of group-work  Types of task  Procedure  Some ideas for using tasks

3 What is a task-based approach? “ As earlier with the communicative approach…teachers and others are often not certain as to what a task-based approach really does mean… does it mean that everything they do in the classroom should be a task? …What is the difference, in any case, between a task-based approach and the communicative approach that they were told they should use not so many years ago?” (Littlewood, 2004, p )

4 What is a task?  A task is goal-directed.  A task has a primary focus on meaning.  A task has a clear pedagogic relationship to real world language needs.  A task has a clearly defined outcome (the assessment of the task is in terms of outcome).  The participants choose the linguistic resources needed to complete the task.

5 Definitions  Tasks … are activities which have meaning as their primary focus. Success in tasks is evaluated in terms of achievement of an outcome, and tasks generally bear some resemblance to real-life language use (Skehan, 1996).  …The task should also have a sense of completeness, being able to stand alone as a communicative act in its own right (Nunan, 1989).

6 Rationale for using tasks Developing implicit knowledge as a result of the effort to communicate. Automatisation: learners can only gain in fluency by attempting to use L2 in real operating conditions.

7 Justifying the use of tasks What is important is instruction that a) enables acquisitional processes to operate, particularly by allowing meaning to be negotiated, and b) maintains a focus-on-form, as opposed to focus on formS

8 Meaningful language Task-based language teaching uses tasks as the core unit of planning and instruction, based on the following principles:  Activities that involve real communication are essential for language learning.  Activities in which language is used for carrying out meaningful tasks promote learning.  Language that is meaningful to the learner supports the learning process.

9 Activation of learning processes  An interest in tasks as potential building blocks of L2 instruction emerged when researchers turned to tasks as SLA research tools in the mid-1980s.  Reassessment of the role of formal grammar instruction.  Engaging learners in task work provides a better context for the activation of learning processes than formal grammar activities, ultimately provides better opportunities for language learning to take place.

10 Interaction & focus on meaning  Within the context of second language acquisition (SLA), the Interaction Hypothesis suggests that receiving comprehensible input and interactional feedback, being pushed to make changes in output, and negotiating for meaning are all helpful for second language (L2) learning.  To date, many of the empirical studies that support the Interaction Hypothesis have been carried out in laboratory settings and classrooms.

11 Approach: the nature of language learning TBLT is motivated primarily by a theory of learning rather than a theory of language. Several assumptions about the nature of language underlie the approaches to TBLT:  Language is primarily a means of making meaning  Multiple models of language inform TBLT

12 The focus: conversation and meaning-making  Lexical units are central in language use and language learning.  ‘Conversation’ is the central focus of language and the keystone of language acquisition.  Tasks provide both the input and output processing necessary for language acquisition.  Task activity and achievement are motivational.  Learning difficulty can be negotiated and fine-tuned for particular pedagogical purposes.

13 Classroom organisation Teacher-fronted vs. small group classrooms The traditional mode of classroom organisation was a teacher-fronted one, with learners sitting in rows facing the teacher. In contrast, experiential learning, based on a constructivist approach to education, is realised at a classroom level by cooperative, task-based learning, with learners working in small groups or pairs. Students become skilled at cooperating with others, and express their own opinions, ideas, and feelings, guided by the teacher.

14 Procedure  Pre-task activities (Introduction to topic and task, e. g. brainstorming ideas, pre-teaching new structures or highlighting useful words and phrases.  Task (the Task cycle) the task is done by Ss (in pairs or groups), T walks around and monitors Planning (prepares for the next stage when Ss are asked to report how they did the task and what the outcome was) Report  Post-task activities (language focus: analysis & practice)

15 Group work Group work is essential to any classroom that is based on principles of experiential learning. Through group work learners develop their ability to communicate through tasks that require them to talk and to approximate the kinds of things they will need to be able to do to communicate in the world beyond the classroom. However, many educational institutions have not kept pace with changes in society at large. Most are still predicated on a transmission mode of education, a mode that is even reflected in the physical setting of the classroom.

16 Advantages of group work  It fosters learner autonomy. Students working in groups are not directly controlled by the teacher, and they make their own choices about how they do the group task.  Although collaborative work does not suit the learning style of some students, for many group work is very motivating.  It is particularly important for practising oral fluency.  More students can contribute ideas to a discussion task.  Groups can work as teams in competition

17 Problems Both teachers and students may have reservations about doing group work. Teachers  Fear that they may lose control, particularly with young and adolescent groups in schools.  Students might start using their L1 too much, make a lot of noise, and may not be engaged in the task at all.  How much learning is actually going on? Students  Individual learning style (?)  Some students prefer teacher-led classroom

18 Types of task (Ellis, 2003) Unfocused a)pedagogic ( information-gap, opinion-gap, reasoning-gap, personal, role-play, etc.) a)real-world tasks (giving instructions, letters to the editor, writing reviews, etc.) Focused tasks (focused on a linguistic target)

19 Types of tasks (Willis, 1996)  Listing  Ordering and sorting  Comparing  Problem solving  Sharing personal experiences  Creative tasks

20 Characteristics of tasks  One-way or two-way: whether the task involves a one-way or two-way exchange of information  Convergent or divergent: whether the students achieve a common goal or several different goals  Collaborative or competitive  Single or multiple outcomes  Simple or complex processing  Simple or complex language  Concrete or abstract language

21 Some ideas for using tasks Report writing – narrative Review writing (book review, film review) Seeking/giving advice Writing a letter to the editor House selling or buying Instructions “how to…” Designing a brochure Designing a menu Preparing for a job interview Writing a CV Writing a reference Choosing the best candidate for a job Conducting an experiment

22 ICT: challenges & opportunities  Keeping up with tech-savvy pupils and the pace of change are challenges and also opportunities to enhance teaching and learning.  Incorporating new technologies into the classroom and the process of learning beyond the classroom has the potential to motivate and engage pupils, to involve and empower them, and, hopefully, retain them as language learners.

23 Imaginative use of ICT  Many examples of teachers of languages using ICT imaginatively and effectively with their pupils and there are already digital resources around to access easily.  A wide range of resources free for all to use, ranging from photos to video clips of native speakers to interactive games and quizzes.

24 Collaboration, creativity  Teachers reported beneficial effects as pupils worked both collaboratively and independently, focusing on pronunciation and accuracy and developing creativity in an appealing way.  The appeal of creating a hi-tech multimedia products motivates students to do the little bit extra work.  Videoconferencing – a great way of enabling face-to-face contact with students in other countries.

25 Raising motivation  Excitement and fun in language learning motivate pupils, helping them to engage purposefully with the target language.  Commercial products too, enable teachers to introduce a focused ‘fun and games’ element into teaching and learning. ( e. g. Task Magic and Hot Potatoes are the products for the creation of very appealing interactive games.)

26 Wikis  A collaborative tool for setting up easily edited websites which have content added and amended by readers – enables anyone who accesses them to contribute new information. A wiki is a web page that is created and can be revised collaboratively.  Wikis make two assumptions: first, that knowledge is transitory and not static: there is always some new piece to delete or revise. The second assumption is that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts: through each individual contribution the product gets better and better.

27 Thank you! Hope there will be more opportunities for future collaboration.


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