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Introduction and Analysis of Task-based LanguageLearning

作者:TESOL in China来源:TESOL网址:http://www.tesolinchina.com

1.Introduction of task-basedlanguage learning

Most approaches tolanguage teaching can be described as 'formbased'. In contrast to formbasedapproaches, task based learning (TBL) involves the specification not of asequence of language items, but of a sequence of communicative tasks to becarried out in the target language. Central to the notion of a communicativetask is the exchange of meanings. Nunan (1993) defines a communicative task as“a piece of classroom work which involves learners in comprehending,manipulating, producing or interacting in the target language while theirattention is principally focused on meaning rather than form”. J. Willis (1996)defines a task as an activity 'where the target language is used by the learnerfor a communicative purpose (goal) in order to achieve an outcome'. PeterSkehan (1998) gives a solid foundation for defining a task from a pedagogicalperspective by reflecting a broad consensus among researchers and educators. Hesuggests five defining criteria: A task is an activity in which a) meaning isprimary b) there is some communication problem to solve c) there is some sortof relationship to comparable real-world activities d) task completion has somepriority e) the assessment of the task is in terms of outcomes.


2.Task-based LanguageLeaning & Traditional Teaching Methods

The traditionalmethods have dominated in English class for a long time. However,since early 1980s, many linguists in different counties have strongly advocatedand promoted Task-based language learning. Here are the maincomparison between the two methods:

1)First, with TBL using in the class, the teacher couldact as an organizer, director, helper and adviser. The students wouldlearn autonomously and cooperatively in a student-centered class.In contrast, traditional methods focus on form and are featured as teacher-centered. The teacher isthe decision-maker in Traditional Teaching Methods class.

2)Second, tasks in class usually deal with communicationproblems, while traditional classroom always takes lots of timein grammar exercise. As a result, the traditional classroom isusually boring and dull, while the task-based classroom is more exciting andpopular with learners, which can stimulate their learning interest in thetasks. Learners have more chances to practise English and involve activelyin the lesson.

3.Experience on task-basedlanguage learning

The teacher’s duty is not onlyto teach the students knowledge, but also the skills or ability for life-timelearning. Take my demo TESOL video as an example. I chose task-based languagelearning approach to create a student-centered class. The process of finishingtasks requires discussion, negotiation and cooperation among students. At thesame time, So I chose the autonomous and cooperative learning strategy in myclass. Students understand the new knowledge in certain degree through themental process of seeing, hearing, saying, observing, and thinking etc.

For the listeningcomprehension, I asked the students to listen to the tape and decide whetherthe statements are true or false (task 1). The students would focus on TangHua’s answers, so they could get familiar with the key sentencespatterns.

The second step was readingthe dialogue. The students were asked to underline the interview’s answers(task 2). So the students would pay attention to the key teaching points again.In this way, the students can know how to ask and answer the questions at a jobinterview.

In the writing task, I askedthe students to fill in an application letter (task 3). The function of theapplication letter was that let the students write down an outline for theirdialogue.

With the help of writing task,the students could prepare for their job interviews very well. Then in pairwork of the speaking section, the students could one act as interviewer, theother one act as interviewee. The interviewer should use the key sentencepatterns to ask the questions, and the interviewee answered the interviewer’squestions according to his/her application letter (task 4). They could practicetheir dialogue to consolidate the new language points. The process of groupwork enables the students to develop their teamwork spirit and creativethinking as well. With four tasks in the class, the students finally could makea job interview fluently and have developed their communicative and cooperativeability.   



TBL focuses on howto learn rather than what to learn. Compared with traditionalapproaches, TBL can help the learners to solve practical issuesso that they would internalize the language points. Despite TBL canhelp teacher and students in learning English, specific problems may befound when implemented in the class. So there are still lots ofdifficulties andchallenges for researchers and English teachers. No matterwhat kind of methods or strategies are used, the purpose is to help studentsbecome more independent and successful learners.



TEFL中国官网: www.teflinchina.com






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