TASK-BASED LANGUAGE LEARNING

A student-centered approach

TBLL was popularized by N.S. Prabhu. He carried out The Bangalore Project (1979-1984) involving 390 students between the ages of 8 and 15. The teachers at the Regional Institute of English in Bangalore felt the need to try something new with students.

The project consisted of a focus on meaning rather than form. Teaching trough meaning rather than teaching for communication. The focus was on the completion of a task rather than the language used in the process of completing the task.

TBLL made a com-back in the early 90’s. Now task-based activities are those in which the student uses authentic language to carry out meaningful tasks, this is real life tasks.

Assessment is based on the completion of the task and not on the accuracy of the language form. Students can use all of the language that they are familiar with not just the language that is being used in a particular unit.

The basic steps are:

1. The Pre-task, where the teacher presents the students with what is expected of them.

2.Carrying out the task itself where the teacher is a mere observer.

3. Review, where students review each other’s work and give constructive feedback.

ADVANTAGES

  • Student centred. To learn by doing.
  • Easier way to comprehend and learn.
  • Promotes interpersonal skills.
  • Understand, interact, negotiate meaning, and produce language.
  • Wider and more varied input.
  • Promotes personal initiative, commitment.
  • Students find it more fun and motivating.
  • TBL seek for three aspects of language which produce a big influence on interaction:

              Negotiation of meaning.

              Communicative strategies.

             Communicative effectiveness.

    Reach these important aspects may not be available for all learners because it depends on their own context and familiarity with the task. There are a large variables which can affect language acquisition, for example how to represent the linguistic knowledge and how to produce knowledge. Problems can appear designing the task, due to the essential need to balance focus on form and meaning.

    Teacher may have difficulties giving the instructions to students, should suggest a series of topics and the student will have to decide and communicate openly. Some topics will need to be adapted for some group of students attending to diversity. The results of the task may not be the expected. It depends on the contextual and cultural differences between the learners. It is not a consequence of the planning method conducted by the teacher. It depends on how students adapt the task to their own purposes.

    Learners put great emphasis on communication, but not necessarily worry about the exact form that they use. Not too much focus on grammar. Teacher needs to differentiate between tasks and class activities. (Task->when language is used to reach communication purposes). The difficulties of TBL approach depends on teachers’ and students’ attitudes.

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