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TBLT in kindergarten Finding a balance between language acquisition in a child-centred approach and language teaching in a teacher directed approach (based.

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Presentation on theme: "TBLT in kindergarten Finding a balance between language acquisition in a child-centred approach and language teaching in a teacher directed approach (based."— Presentation transcript:

1 TBLT in kindergarten Finding a balance between language acquisition in a child-centred approach and language teaching in a teacher directed approach (based on Verheyden & Verhelst, 2007) Machteld Verhelst, Hawai‘i, 21.09.2007

2 TBLT in Kindergarten? Can task-based language teaching already be organised at this early age? Can activities in kindergarten classrooms be labelled “tasks”? cf. Van den Branden (2006): “a task is an activity in which a person engages to attain an objective, and which necessitates the use of language”?

3 Ingredients of a powerful task-based language learning environment for young children Within a positive and safe environment children are confronted with meaningful and relevant tasks, and receive interactional support while performing these tasks. Tasks should be “pleasant and playful, stimulating the children to use language to carry out actions in the concrete world of the here and the now” (Verhelst, 2006)

4 Stimulating language in kindergarten: an example “Experimenting at the water table” = No language activity / task-based language activity. No language input/output Especially for children at risk, exposure to school language should be maximal and optimal  TBLT

5 Illustration 1: Child-following interventions The teacher joins, shows interest, invites to share experiences and helps. She describes what she is observing, asks questions and invites the children to pay attention to each other’s explorative actions and discoveries.

6 Illustration 1 Connecting to the children’s activities (child- following behaviour) by describing what they are doing. The language is embedded in action-based experience. The input is meaningful and rich. By expressing interest and asking what they are doing, the teacher invites the children to produce output.  a stimulating environment for language learning.

7 Illustration 1 No task-based language activity.  physical actions without predetermined and clearly-formulated goal. Every child is free to follow the stimuli. There is no functional and real-life objective that motivates the behaviour. This kind of exploration does not necessitate language use. Whether the child responds to the teacher’s child- following interventions or not, does not fundamentally affect the design of the activity.

8 Illustration 2: “Initial” task-based language education The teacher joins the children at the water table and participates in their exploration. In addition to child-following interventions, she now introduces new challenges that are linked to what children are doing.

9 Illustration 2 The children need to understand the input to carry out instructions. The communicative value of the input is higher than in 1. Interaction chances: the children can still carry out the teacher’s instructions without interaction, but they are invited to talk and discuss challenges (in pairs). The teacher can open a cognitively challenging conversation, confront the children with each other’s findings.

10 Illustration 2 In this way the teacher combines a responsive attitude with goal-oriented language instruction. She creates natural interactions that may enhance language development in general. The stimulating interventions the teacher planned and prepared might be called “mini-tasks”. The children do not engage in an activity which necessitates the use of language to reach an objective. = initial task-based language education.

11 Illustration 3: “Initial” task-based language education (2) The teacher sets one clear and motivating goal: Make a “magic bottle”, a bottle filled with water and with all kinds of objects that cause a magic effect when shaking the bottle: pearls, pebbles, pieces of straws, pieces of coloured plastic foil, small twinkling stars, colouring-matter, etc.

12 Illustration 3 The children may not be talking to each another, because carrying out the instructions does not really necessitate the productive use of language. The fact that they are taking up the same challenge, stimulates the children to interact. The teacher can concentrate on taking up a responsive attitude, and on stimulating the use of school language naturally: linking language with the ongoing activity. Language is not a means in itself, but a means to share fascination, to reach a better concrete result.

13 Illustration 4: Task-based language education The teacher changes the activity into a meaningful activity that almost surely enhances language development, even without the teacher being present all the time. There are 20 objects in this box. Find out which objects can float and which ones sink. Please draw what you find out on this paper, so that later on we can compare the findings of your group to those of other groups. All information should be brought together in one document.

14 Illustration 4 Only one form  cooperation. The children have to plan, execute, compare their opinions and decide together. They have to debate on the objects that do not sink immediately. This stimulates the children to verbalize their ideas, and to listen to those of other children. The teacher can stimulate language development: * asking for clarification; * stimulating to verbalize reasoning; * guiding towards an exploration of problems and to finding solutions; * asking cognitively challenging questions, etc.

15 Illustration 4 The teacher has to repeatedly invite the children to carry out the instructions.  strike the right balance between adapting to each child’s individual (language) learning process and working towards particular language learning objectives. At the point of involving a child in a (mini-)task, the teacher balances on a wire between a more responsive, child-following approach and a more structured approach.

16 Illustration 4 In coaching, the teacher should refrain from “detasking” the task and becoming too teacher- directed  NOT intervening in such a way as to pull the children’s attention away from the functional goal and to explicitly focus on language itself, e.g. What colour is this? You don’t say “He take it”, but “He takes it”. How do we call this?... A straw. Repeat: a straw!

17 Conclusion As children develop more cognitive capacities, the complexity of mini-tasks can increase (more goal- directed orientation). The developing social skills enable children to cooperate and interact with peers. The language learning potential depends on the teacher’s support and on the children’s involvement, which partly depends on the motivational strength of the task objective(s). Task-based language education can be introduced with 4- to 6-year olds. They gradually can set themselves clear objectives, including those suggested by others, and pursue these for some time.

18 TBLT in kindergarten: a continuum? a continuum ranging from real-life ‘tasks’, over mini-tasks to exploratory activities. Cognitive and social capacities determine whether they are able to engage themselves in an activity to attain an objective that necessitates the use of language. Demanding teaching.

19 ??? How often TBLT in daily practice? What is the balance between incidental, natural language acquisition (in which the teacher has a central, be it a more child-centred and child- following role) and carefully planned (initial) task-based language teaching? MAHALO!

20 References -Van den Branden, K.(2006), Introduction: Task-based Language Teaching in a nutshell. In: Van den Branden, K. (Ed.), Task-Based Language Education. From theory to practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1-16. -Verhelst, M. (2006), A box full of feelings: Promoting infants’ second language acquisition all day long. In: Van den Branden, K. (ed.), Task-based language education: from theory to practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 197-216. -Verheyden, L. & M. Verhelst (2007), ‘Opportunities for task- based language teaching in kindergarten’. In: Van den Branden, K., Van Gorp, K., & Verhelst, M. (eds.), Tasks in action. Task-based language education from a classroom- based perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 285-309.

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