When designing the main task itself, course
developers should consider various options, such as
whether they will impose a time limit (this can provide
extra motivation, although it can also lead to poor
task achievement), whether learners will have access
to input data (e.g. research notes for a discussion),
and how teachers should (not) react to learners
making errors during a task (should we correct
anything we judge to be an error by immediately ‘recasting’ it, or is it enough to provide this ‘reactive
focus on form’ post-task?)
Following the completion of the main task, it is
important to have learners reﬂect upon their and
others’ performances (self- and peer-evaluation) and
for both learners and teacher to give feedback on
language and task performance (‘focus on form’)
plus, possibly, even for learners to do exercises on
discrete points of vocabulary and grammar use (in
TBLT terminology, to ‘focus on forms’). Another option
would be for learners to repeat the task (we almost
always do things better the second time, though it
may be worth modifying the task slightly or having
learners swap roles in order to increase motivation).
Learn by doing
Once the course is ready, in the form of a series of
task cycles, try it out, seeking feedback as you go in
order to further improve its effectiveness. Although a
TBLT approach may seem demanding, I ﬁrmly
believe that the rewards (for both teachers and
students) are well worth the effort. Also, of course,
things become easier the second time around…
Council of Europe (2008) Structured overview of all
CEFR scales. http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/education/elp/
September 9, 2013].
Ellis, R. (2009) ‘Task-based language teaching:
sorting out the misunderstandings’, International
Journal of Applied Linguistics, 19: 221-246.
Krashen, S. (1982) Principles and Practice in Second
Language Acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon.
Lantolf, J. (2000) ‘Second language learning as a
mediated process’, Language Teaching, 33: 79-96.
Long, M. (1983) ‘Native speaker/non-native speaker
conversation and the negotiation of comprehensible
input’, Applied Linguistics, 4 (2): 126−41.
Schmidt, R. (1990) The Role of Consciousness in
Second Language Learning. London: Edward Arnold.
Skehan, P. (1998) A Cognitive Approach to Language
Learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mat Plews teaches English for Academic Purposes at
Humboldt University, Berlin. His professional
interests, alongside TBLT, include second-language
acquisition, learner motivation, CEFR-based
continuous assessment and Virtual Learning
Environments. In total, he has been teaching for over
20 years, working in both EAP and EFL contexts.
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