How To Develop A Task-Based
Course – The Toolkit!
For those interested in designing a task-based
course, I would suggest the following procedure:
Determine ‘learning objectives’
Using a combination of diagnostic tools such as tests,
questionnaires, and planning frameworks (e.g.
SWOT analyses), coupled with previous experience,
determine what the needs of course participants are,
in the form of ‘learning objectives’. These can, for
example, be written as ‘can do statements’ e.g. “The
learner can provide good support for their arguments”.
These are helpful for keeping the course on track,
making participants more aware of their learning, and
for assessment purposes.
Deﬁne assessment criteria
Once the participants’ needs have been determined,
the learning objectives can be incorporated into a
CEFR-style assessment grid (see Council of Europe,
2008), containing appropriate criteria at the required
Develop each ‘task cycle’
Next, the nature of any tasks needs determining.
According to Ellis (2009), a ‘task’ is:
an activity with a clearly-deﬁned outcome other than
the use of language, where ...
learners have to rely largely on their own resources,
the primary focus is on meaning.
missing prepositions. It also differentiates between the
discussion ‘tasks’ I have used and ‘exercises’ where
learners are given a list of useful phrases at the
beginning and told to use them in a discussion.
Thus, course developers need to ensure that their
tasks meet the above criteria.
It is also necessary for course designers to adhere to
the theoretical principles supporting TBLT. In other
words, the task itself and any input should be at a
level just above the learners’ own, and learners need
to be given opportunities to identify the language they
need themselves and then to use it.
There are also several common (though nonessential) features of tasks which course developers
may wish to consider, namely whether the tasks are
to be authentic (as far as this is possible!),
collaborative (e.g. groupwork) and/or contain an
Once the tas