Task-based Learning
Explanation of Main Features

The ultimate goal of learning a language is to be able to communicate successfully to others in that language. A task-based learning approach, where learners are actively engaged, is designed to achieve this goal. Task-based learning is a learning methodology that is currently used worldwide. It is a student-centered based learning method, in which the students perform different task such as an interview or visit to a doctor’s office. These tasks are created to have the students “practice language items that have been presented earlier” (Willis, Criteria for identifying tasks for TBL, 2008). One of the foremost authors on the subject of task-based learning is Jane Willis and her husband, Dave Willis.

Jane Willis, along with her husband, has written many books and articles on the subject of task-based learning. Jane Willis often describes this approach as having three main parts; pre-task, task cycle, and language focus. Task-based learning starts with the pre-task stage, in which the teacher prepares the students for the task ahead. This includes presenting the students with needed vocabulary to succeed in their task and expectations of the students during the task. During the task cycle, the students perform the task laid out by the teacher, often in partners or small groups. This task cycle may include a planning stage in which “learners will have a chance to focus on the language they want to use and improve it” before presenting their completed task to the teacher or class (Willis, From priming tasks and target tasks to language focus and grammar, 2008). While the students are performing the task, they are more focused on fluency rather than accuracy, the planning stage gives the students a chance to focus on the accuracy of what they are saying or meaning they are trying to get across to others. The last step of the task cycle is the reporting stage where the students are able to report on their task to the teacher or class. The final part of the task-based learning method is the language focus. Now that the students have had a chance to practice the language, the teacher leads them back to the original grammar the students were meant to be practicing. This is often done, by having the students go into their textbooks and complete the accompanying exercises. Although there can be more stages in a task-based approach, these are the main three. When using a task-based learning approach it is important to remember “… the focus is on learners learning language (through using and experiencing it themselves), rather than teachers teaching language” (Willis, From priming tasks and target tasks to language focus and grammar, 2008).

Works Cited

Willis, J. (2008, May 29). Criteria for identifying tasks for TBL. Retrieved May 9, 2011, from BBC Teaching English: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/articles/criteria-identifying-tasks-tbl

Willis, J. (2008, June 25). From priming tasks and target tasks to language focus and grammar. Retrieved May 9, 2011, from BBC Teaching English: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/articles/priming-tasks-target-tasks-language-focus-grammar




Critique


Task-based learning is an attempt to create meaningful, memorable, and natural opportunities for students to process the language being learned. Language is the instrument and the task is an open-ended activity where students use language to achieve a specific outcome. The activity usually reflects real life, i.e. playing games, solving a problem or sharing information or experiences. Tasks are usually organized by a pre-task activity followed by task cycle: task, planning, and report, followed by language focus and feedback. Successful task achievement will greatly increase their satisfaction and motivation (Willis, From priming tasks and target tasks to language focus and grammar, 2008).



Willis, J. (2008, June 25). From priming tasks and target tasks to language focus and grammar. Retrieved May 9, 2011, from BBC Teaching English: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/articles/priming-tasks-target-tasks-language-focus-grammar.