I was intrigued when someone recently told me that there are strong arguments being raised in some sectors for a return to older methods of English language teaching. Whether these are just the cries of people who are bored and want to say something controversial, or whether it has some logical basis, I don’t know.
Most notably, some argue in favour of the ‘Present-Practice-Produce’ or (PPP) method. The PPP method gave way some years ago to the now in-favour Communicative Language Teaching method, which itself gave rise to the Task Based Teaching method.
Task based teaching?
An essay published in the Asian EFL Journal noted that ‘task based teaching has an edge over other traditional methods of teaching’. The article goes on to present evidence from an experiment that took place to discover the merits of task based teaching.
What is task based teaching?
“Task based teaching and learning is teaching and learning a language by using language to accomplish open ended tasks. Learners are given a problem or objective to accomplish but are left with some freedom in approaching this problem or objective.”
(Designing tasks for communicative classroom, CUP, David Nunan)
Tasks and activities focus on achieving a goal, be it practical or logical, with the emphasis on using known language to reach the end. Therefore, the learning is not so much in completing the task, but how you complete the task.
Task based teaching involves three stages:
Pre-task – Introducing the theme and the task itself
Task cycle – Carrying out the assigned task (from planning to completion)
Language focus – Reviewing the language and language practice
What are the benefits?
The benefits include increased motivation as learners are encouraged by the prospect of accomplishing something. The task also involves both language use and error correction. It provides the learner with an opportunity to use language in a ‘safe’ environment, and to have the benefits of ‘relearning’, or error correction.
The project present in the Asian EFL Journal also highlighted that students responded well due to the interactive nature of the lessons. Furthermore, exam results increased massively due thanks to the use of task based teaching.
Want to give it a try? These task based lessons from task-masters Willis should help.
Task based learning tips
Asian EFL Journal also produced these handy tips to keep in mind when teaching task style.
- The purpose of the task must be clearly stated
- The task must be suitable for the level of the students
- Tasks must be interesting and motivating to the students
- The language that the task will produce must be predicted
- Tasks should have variety and flexibility