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Task-Based Language Teaching


Rod Ellis University of Auckland Task-Based Language Teaching Three Dimensions of Language Teaching Goal (i.e. why the language is being taught) Content (i.e ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Task-Based Language Teaching

Task-Based Language Teaching
  • Rod Ellis
  • University of Auckland

Three Dimensions of Language Teaching
  • Goal (i.e. why the language is being taught)
  • Content (i.e. what is taught)
  • - Type A syllabuses
  • - Type B syllabuses
  • Methodology (i.e. how it is taught)
  • - accuracy
  • - fluency

Grammar Translation
Goal Content Methodology
Ability to read literature in the L2 Type A (list of grammar rules and words to be taught) Accuracy (i.e. accurate translation of L2 into L1)
Goal Content Methodology
Ability to communicate Type A (list of linguistic items to be taught) Accuracy (I.e. focus on target-like use of the L2)
Notional/Functional Teaching
Goal Content Methodology
Ability to communicate Type A (i.e. a list of notions and functions Accuracy (i.e. focus on target-like use of the L2)
Task-Based Teaching
Goal Content Methodology
Ability to communicate Type B (i.e. a series of message-focused tasks) Fluency (i.e. focus on message conveyance)
Rationale for Using Tasks
  • Developing implicit knowledge learners can only
    develop implicit knowledge of a second language
    incidentally as a result of the effort to
  • Automatization learners can only gain in
    fluency by attempting to use the L2 in real
    operating conditions.

Defining a Task
  1. A task is a goal directed.
  2. A task involves a primary focus on meaning.
  3. The participants choose the linguistic resources
    needed to complete the task.
  4. A task has a clearly defined outcome.

Types of Task
  • Unfocussed tasks
  • a. Pedagogic
  • b. Real world
  • Focussed tasks

An Example of a Pedagogic Task
  1. Four students each has one picture and
    describes it to the rest of the class.
  2. Students from the rest of the class ask the four
    students questions about their pictures.
  3. One student from the class tries to tell the
  4. If necessary Steps 2 and 3 are repeated.

Some Typical Pedagogic Tasks
  • Information-gap tasks (e.g. Same or Different)
  • Opinion-gap tasks (e.g. Balloon debates)
  • Reasoning-gap tasks
  • Personal tasks
  • Role-play tasks
  • Note Tasks can be dialogic or monologic they
    can be performed orally or in writing.

A Real-World Task
  • Look at the e-mail message below. Listen to
    Mr. Pointers instructions on the tape. Make
    notes if you want to. Then write a suitable reply
    to Lesieur.
  • Dear Mr. Pointer
  • Please send flight number, date and time of
  • and I will arrange for someone to meet you at
  • airport.
  • Lesieur.

A Focussed Task
  • Can you spot the differences?
  • B

A Focussed Task
  • Can you spot the difference?
  • A

A Framework for Describing Tasks
  • Goal
  • Input
  • Conditions
  • Predicted outcomes
  • a. Process
  • b. Product

Two Approaches to Using Tasks
  • Use tasks to support a Type A approach.
  • - task-supported teaching (Type A)
  • - weak form of communicative language teaching
  • Use tasks as the basis for teaching
  • - task-based teaching (Type B)
  • - strong form of communicative teaching

Designing a Task-Based Curriculum
  1. Select task types according to general level.
  2. Determine the themes/topics of the tasks
  3. Grade tasks in terms of task difficulty
  4. Specify language/skills/ text types required to
    perform the task.

The Methodology of Task-Based Teaching
  • Three phases in a task-based lesson
  • Pre-task phase
  • Main task phase
  • Post-task phase

The Pre-Task Phase
  • Some options
  • Allow the students time to plan.
  • Provide a model
  • Do a similar task
  • Pre-teach key linguistic items

The Main Task Phase
  • Some options
  • Whole-class vs. small group work
  • Set a time for completing the task.
  • Vary the number of participants.
  • Introduce a surprise element.
  • Tell students they will have to present a report
    to the whole class.

The Post-Task Phase
  • Some options
  • Students give a report.
  • Repeat task (e.g. students switch groups)
  • Consciousness-raising activities.

Focussing on Form
Opportunities to focus on form arise in
task-based teaching Definition Focus on form
overtly draws students attention to linguistic
elements as they arise incidentally in lessons
whose overrriding focus is on meaning or
communication. (Long 1991) cf. Focus on forms
Three Types of Focus on Form
  1. Reactive focus on form (error correction)
  2. Teacher-initiated focus on form
  3. Student-initiated focus on form

Reactive Focus on Form An Example
  • T What were you doing?
  • S I was in pub
  • (2)
  • S I was in pub
  • T In the pub?
  • S Yeh and I was drinking beer with my
  • friend.

Dual Focus
  • Learner 1 And what did you do last weekend?
  • Learner 2 I tried to find a pub where you
    dont see where you dont see many tourists.
    And I find one
  • Teacher Found.
  • Learner 2 I found one where I spoke with two
    English women and we spoke about life in
  • Canterbury or things and after I came back
  • Teacher Afterwards

Problems and Solutions
Problem Solution
1. Students lack proficiency to communicate in the L2 Devise activities that develop ability to communicate gradually.
2. Students unwilling to speak English in class. Use small group work allow planning time learner training
3. Students develop pidginized language system Select tasks that demand fully grammaticalized language
Problems with the Educational System and Solutions
Problems Solutions
1. Emphasis on knowledge learning Review philosophy of education.
2. Examination system Develop new more communicative exams
3. Large classes Use small group work develop tasks suited to large classes.
  1. Task-based teaching offers the opportunity for
    natural learning inside the classroom.
  2. It emphasizes meaning over form but can also
    cater for learning form.
  3. It is intrinsically motivating.
  4. It is compatible with a learner-centred
    educational philosophy.
  5. It can be used alongside a more traditional
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