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May 25, 2007

Teacher Development- TBL

Hello Readers,

In addition to PPP, Task-based learning (TBL) is another attractive approach to teaching. While the definition of TBL has not been agreed upon, it can generally be said that TBL methdologies "share a common idea: giving learners to transact, rather than items to learn, provides and environment which best promotes the language learning process" (Foster, 1999).

The rationale behind this approach is that it fosters learning in a "natural" environment through discovery. It involves hypothesis making, interaction, and negotiation of meaning, which many linguists would say are important factors for learning a language.

First, it is important to understand what constitutes a task. In TBL, a task is...

... a goal-oriented activity with a clear purpose. It should achieve an outcome and create a final product. Some examples include: listing, ordering and sorting, comparing, problem-solving, sharing personal experiences, and creative tasks.

Some say that TBL is like a PPP lesson turned upside down, or as Willis would say "PPP the right side up". As in PPP, there are three main phases in a TBL lesson. They include the pre-task phase, the task cycle and language focus.

In the pre-task phase, there is an introduction to the topic and the task, exposure to real language (which could include tape recordings of native speakers completing the same task), and the use of texts and activities involving the texts.

In the task cycle phase, a task is completed, then students are asked to engage in a 'planning' stage to prepare for reporting on how they completed the task. During the planning stage, students can draft and rehearse what they want to say, with the help of the teacher. In the reporting stage, students report on the task, while others listen and give comments. There is no error-correction during the task cycle phase.

The final phase is language focus, where students analyse language and practice it. Based on the texts that students used in the first phase, the teacher will set some language-focused tasks. Here, there is a focus on form.

For more information about TBL, read:

1) Willis, J.A. (1996). A Framework for Task-Based Learning. Harlow: Longman Addison-Wesley.

2) http://www.jalt-publications.org/tlt/files/98/jul/willis.html

Hope that helps.

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan
E-mail: crueckert@eslemployment.com
Blog: www.esl-lesson-plan.com

"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." - Chinese Proverb

*Looking for more articles that spotlight Teacher Development in the ESL industry? Click HERE!

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About the author of this entry:
Carol, a native English-speaker who hails from the small town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, USA, and lived and worked in China for more than 7 years. During that time, she worked with students that range in age from three to more than sixty years old. She worked in universities, private language schools, grade schools, international schools, as well as private tutoring. Besides teaching, she also worked as a head teacher, an education manager, and a material development manager. In addition to working on this newsletter, she currently writes a monthly column for Time Out Beijing. Carol is also currently working on her MA in TESOL at the Oxford Brookes University in England. Look for her posts on the ESL-Jobs-Forum discussion boards!

Posted by crueckert at May 25, 2007 06:05 AM

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