Task Based Learning (TBL)

TBL = Task Based Approach (TBA) = Task Based Language Teaching (TBLT)
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TBL-Task Based Learning (PDF Presentation) Source: Jane Willis, A Framework for Task-Based Learning, Longman ELT


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Task Based Speaking: Planning a night out, Richard Frost
Task-Based Teaching: Free Lesson Plans to Download (3), Jane and Dave Willis

        1. Reading for information: Motivating learners to read efficiently
        2. Form focus and recycling: getting grammar
        3. Techniques for priming and recycling

INSTRUCTIONAL TASK CHARACTERISTICS (from Researching pedagogic tasks - Second language learning, teaching and testing - Bygate, Skehan and Swain, 2001)

Based on a review of task-based resarch and literature, Skehan (1998: 95) presents several core features of a task in instruction:
• meaning is primary
• there is some communication problem to solve
• there is some sort of relationship to real-world activities
• task completion has some priority
• the assessment of the task is in terms of outcome.

In order to further clarify the concept of 'task', Skehan (1998: 95) lists characteristics that show what a task is not. Tasks:
- do not give Iearners other people's meanings to regurgitte are not concerned with language display
- are not conformity-oriented
- are not practice-oriented
- do not embed language into materiaIs so that specific structures can be focused upon.

Other articles:
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Asian EFL Journal

Articles on Task Based Learning

Task-based Learning in an Asian Context (foreword & index), Nunn

1 Task-based language teaching in the Asia context: Defining 'task', Nunan
2 The Methodology of Task-Based Teaching, Ellis
3 What do we know about learning and teaching second languages: Implications for teaching, Mangubhai

4 Designing Holistic Units for Task-Based Learning, Nunn
5 Task-Based Language Teaching and Learning: An Overview, Oxford

7 Task Based Teaching: Learning English without Tears, Lochana & Deb
8 Researching the Influence of Target Language on Learner Task Performance,Muller
9 Models, Norms and Goals for English as an International Language Pedagogy and Task Based Language Teaching and Learning, Acar

Young learners & TBA

Article by Jane Willis: "Activity-based Language Learning at Primary Level" (inhttp://www.willis-elt.co.uk/books.html)

Comments taken from www.teachingenglish.org.uk:
1) jorgelina-carlassare
Submitted on 3 June, 2008 - 03:33

As a teacher of English and material designer for EFL contexts, I often find it difficult to follow a "strong" TBL methodology when teaching young learners though I always choose tasks as the driving force of my teaching proposals. Do you think that it is a possible to frame TEFL within a weaker version of TBA? If so, what would it be like? If not, how could we apply the TBA when teaching young learners English as a Foreign Language?

Jorgelina Carlassare - Argentina-Mar del Plata

2) Jane Willis
Young Learners and TBA - YOUNG LEARNERS
Submitted on 6 June, 2008 - 12:06

It's great that you are choosing tasks as the driving force of your lessons. But I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'framing TEFL within a weaker version of TBA'.

When choosing activities for Young Learners (how young by the way?) you need to ask yourself DO THEY WANT AND NEED TO UNDERSTAND IT? E.g. if you are doing stories - are they trying to get the meaning and enjoy the story? When playing games - are they trying to understand and complete the game?

Any 'Listen and Do' or 'Listen and Make' activities - teacher-led - would count as tasks if children have to listen, process for meaning and respond accordingly.

I think you will probably find that if you apply the criteria given in my first article (asthe list of questions) to the activities YOU do in your lessons - you may well find that many / most of them are tasks. You might do some up-front teaching of words and phrases, but then you are likely to play some kind of meanig-focused game with them..... Young Children really only learn through meaning-focused activities. Grammar rules /explanations go over their heads. And at first don't expect the children to talk in English and do tasks in English straight away.

Lots of teacher-talk is a good thing if children have to listen and respond to it - Prabhu - in India - is really the father of TBA - his tasks were all teacher-led and content-based. Timetable problems, planning journeys, budgeting shopping etc. He worked with 11-14 year olds in underpriveleged Seconday schools. His learners gradually began to communicate in English during the first year - he never forced them. But he used no mother tongue...

Content-based teaching is based on tasks, too; at IATEFL this year I was in a session with Brazilian presenters who taught us (as beginners) Fractions in Portuguese. We started off folding paper in halves and the again in halves and so on till we had 8 squares - so we learnt to count in Portuguese. We then had to choose colours for each. and colour 1 in yellow 2 in blue etc... So we learnt the colours. Then we worked out what fractions were in what colour etc....

There was quite a lot we didn't understand at first but it got easier and we slowly realised what we were meant to do. Children are used to not understanding everything. They will still learn from twhat they need to understand.

See Dave Willis' blog for a link to these teachers..


3) jorgelina-carlassare
Young Learners and TBA - YOUNG LEARNERS
Submitted on 7 June, 2008 - 04:51

I work with young learnes (five to nine-year-olds) who get really engaged when working with tasks. However, they don't seem to be ready for experiencing all the stages proposed in this approach:Task- Planning- Report- Analysis- Practice (Frost, R), mainly due to their intellectual capabilites as well as language possibilities.

Generally, I introduce topic-based tasks in which students are invited to get meaning and respond but I can't get with them into the "Report" and "Analysis" stages. Do you think it is possible to do it with young learners?

Honestly, I find it quite difficult to complete the whole cycle of the TBL with young learners who are learning a Foreign Language. Would it be easier if they were learning a second language?

As regards a "weaker version" of the TBA (using the term "weak" as it has been used when referring to a weak version of the CLA), I meant a "quasi" TB approach in which the most demanding stages are missing... That's why I feel I apply a "weak version" of the TBA to my teaching practice.


4) Jane Willis
'Strong' and 'weak' versions of TBT - YOUNG LEARNERS
Submitted on 19 June, 2008 - 16:46

Jorgelina - thanks for your explanation. So you are saying that by a 'weak' version you mean you are using tasks (as the driving force) but omitting Report and Form Focus stages.

Fair enough. For young learners a Form Focus stage would probably not be advisable anyway. Unless it was very simple and lexical - like 'Who can remember all the colours on this page? (close book and see if they can say the colours they saw) or collect past tense verbs by saying - can we remember ALL the things that X did in this story? (close book).

But - re Report stage - I think even quite young children (5 to 6 and upward) have quite a good sense of the difference between private language use and public use. So if you ask them to repeat their story or describe their picture or present their poster to the class or another group in English and give them time in class to plan and prepare it (with your help), they will try to use 'good' language... and this opportunity to report back or present their work will help them recycle new vocab and gain confidence in speaking out.Try it and see!