TASK BASED INSTRUCTION AND THE SHORTCOMINGS OF CLTWEEK 5: TESOL Methods and Materials
Good teachers naturally take account of thecontext in which they teach—the culture,students, institutional factors (Bax 2003)The “methods movement—the research forone best method would seem to be well andtruly dead (Nunan 2001)
Agenda 1st half of the class: Focus on Task Based Instruction. Class activity, discussions, presentations. 2nd half of the class: The shortcomings of CLT (The CLT attitude) and the context approach.
Annie says… Input is a crucial aspect in language learning, along with interaction, these two combined are still not enough. I always agreed that input alone is not enough because it provides no opportunity for practice or learning through interaction, this article suggests that focus on form is equally as important. I thought this was interesting because I never really remember focusing on form when learning my native language, but I did find it important when acquiring my L2. This was somewhat eye opening to me because once I began learning my L2, I started comparing the forms and meanings to my L1 which in turn helped me develop my L1 as well.
Nicolletta says… One aspect I loved about the Skehan article was that he brings up interaction and how “interaction, in itself, is not enough, and insinuation of a focus on form into interaction is very vital” (2). This reminds me so much of how I would go about teaching writing. In the teaching of writing both form and interaction with peers is so important to help a writer progress. Both form and interaction as well help the student to focus on meaning and to convey information to one another which is another aspect Skehan discusses. Like the article says feedback arises when meaning is problematic— this cannot be truer when it comes to reading students papers and making comments. My comments on students‟ drafts are usually comprised of questions I have for them. Also I love that he brings up the issue of planning. Planning is another huge aspect of writing and the teaching of writing. Some of our best ideas and best writing comes from the prewriting or planning stage.
Becca says… Skehan mentioned that although input and interaction combined were beneficial, it was not enough. What Skehan stated was the most important was form. When learning English as a young child, I never paid attention to form and any type of strategies for that matter. Therefore, when I think about my English language abilities I can never relate. However, in my L2, Spanish, I realized that form is a really important aspect in learning a language since I would compare comprehension and and structure to my L1 language.
Dialogues around Task-based Focus on form vs Focus on content Within the use of tasks,. There needs to be a specific focus on form Interaction in itself is not enough Insinuation of focus on form into interaction is vital
Roles in task based instruction Roles of teachers Roles of researchers Roles of testers
Issues arising from the adaptabilityof tasksISSUE # 1: Is it authentic enough? Used in realcommunicative activity?ISSUE # 2: Are we overly focusing oninformation transmission and exchange?
Approaches to task-basedinstruction4 major approaches: 1. Psycholinguistic approach to interaction 2. Social interactive approach 3. A cognitive perspective 4. A concern for structure-focussed tasks
Psycholinguistic approach tointeraction Negotiation of meaning (Long 1983, 1989) Recasting, the importance of recasting in corrective feedback. When is it good to be recasting? Precasting Critiques towards these approaches?
Sociocultural approach to task-based instruction Tasks need to speak to learner‟s individual needs and social interests. Negotiation of meaning is not emphasized. Instead meaning is build collaboratively. Interactions vary depending on how collaborative and symmetrical the relationships of interlocutors are.
Cognitive approaches Psychological processes students are engaged in while completing tasks. How is language performance affected by task characteristics and task conditions?
Important concepts to know fromhis article Measuring performance on tasks. How do you assess students‟ language accuracy vs fluency in TBL? Tasks and pedagogy: What are some of the pedagogical aspects of task research for classroom pedagogy and practice? E,G, Does the use of structured task promote accuracy? Does a task that is familiar promote fluency? Hod do you need to effectively organize tasks?
How does a task look in theclassroom context? According to Samuda, there are knowledge- construction tasks and knowledge activating tasks. Knowledge construction tasks: Tasks that intend to introduce learners new language forms. See the example on page 10. Knowledge activation tasks: Tasks that let the learners use the language forms they already know but do not otherwise use.
What are the roles of teachers? To lead behind, to help learners engage with the task. To provide relevant assistance. Rigorous teaching preparation is needed to plan ahead [Pre-task, task, cycle, language focus]. Teachers take risks. Unpredictability of class sequence. Seeing how the interaction goes in whatever direction learners take it.
Critiques within task basedresearch… Cognitive oriented researchers do not work within a negotiation of meaning framework. Sociocultural theorists have doubts about the impact of interaction in task-based approaches on langauge acquisition.
Critiques outside task-basedresearch… Negotiation of meaning is insufficient as an account of the complexity of classroom interactional patterns. Task-based approaches are too concerned with referential tasks and may ignore social dimension of language use. Working on tasks can be face-threatening to the participants.
Class activity in groups Discuss what perspectives of the CLT and TBLT do you see in this language activity? What are some of the issues that concerns you in regards to focusing on form and focusing on content? Discuss the weaknesses and strengths of this particular activity. Please make specific references to the Skehan article.
Laura says… The last article, Potential Cultural Resistance to Pedagogical Imports: The Case of Communicative Language Teaching in China, by Guangwei Hu, has really brought everything together for me as well as raise some important issues that may arise in classrooms. The article discusses that communicative language teaching in China is important, however, it goes against the Chinese social culture of learning. This is something I have never considered, but it is so obvious. Not to stereotype, but it is common to see a Chinese classroom run by teacher centered approaches and traditional methods. The Chinese students have primarily learned English through grammar-translation and audiolingualism but this approach has failed to develop an adequate level of communicative competence. The question I have is this: Just because the Chinese are learning English does not mean that they have to adapt an American-like culture classroom, but how do they obtain the communicative competence they need? How did they originally obtain their L1 communicative competence?
Bethany says… Hu‟s article talks about how the Chinese have learned English through grammar translation and the audiolingual method. The approach was popular and worked within their culture however many Chinese have had difficulty in their communicative competency. As a result, they tried to use CLT, but now we have seen that there is still no change in the learning outcome. Understanding culture is so important when it comes to teaching. When I read all of the goals of Communicative Language Teaching I think that it sounds like a wonderful approach. However, it sounds like a good approach within the contexts of my own culture and if I were the one learning a foreign language. Hu‟s article brings light to the fact that as a teacher I‟m not teaching myself; I‟m teaching other students who will come from completely different backgrounds, worldviews, and cultures. In the Chinese culture, CLT doesn‟t work because they perceive games and communicative activities as entertainment instead of learning. They view education as a process of accumulating knowledge instead of a process of constructing and using knowledge. The idea that students are discoverers and contributors of knowledge in education is completely opposite to the value placed on books and direct instruction in Chinese culture. In China students are taught to
Bethany also adds… Bax‟s article is a perfect follow-up to Hu because context really is so important. I‟m so happy that I read this because it can be so easy to fall into the western idea of “best practice” and apply it everywhere. Now I see another reason behind the importance of knowing your students well and familiarizing yourself with their cultures. I totally agree with Bax that context should be first and everything else will stem from there. I see how there‟s not one best methodology, but that there are different methodologies that work well within different contexts. I really see how context can/should completely change the way that you teach.
Emily says… “The End of CLT: A Context Approach to Language Leaching” by Stephen Bax touched on some of the issues that were addressed during the last class. It talked about the paradigm shift from CLT. Bax proposed that the new shift will be towards a Context Approach. He claims that it does not represent something completely new, which is good that he realizes it. In past chapters, I have read that when approaches arise, they are not new but reinventions of old ones. He also cites Nunan when he says, “the „methods‟ movement—the search for the one best method, would seem to be well and truly dead.” This relates to the Post Method Era that we have covered. Educators are done searching for one right method, but are instead creating their own way to teach….Bax argues that CLT puts context second and methodology first, which is why he advocates the Context Approach.
Tomas says… In this article Hu argues that transplanting CLT into the Peoples Republic of China ELT programs is problematic. This problem arises due to the differences in education philosophy between the origins of CLT and the traditional or mainstream attitudes toward education held by people in China. There are certain different expectations for how a classroom should be run in either (CLT vs. Chinese pedagogy) system. This does not mean however, Hu argues, that there are not parts of the CLT method that could work within a Chinese ELT classroom. Response: This seems to me like a good example of how being unaware of the culture and context that you work in can be detrimental to the sort of ELT teaching you wish to do. Being aware of these classroom expectations is very important, it seems like. I just wonder what sort of information is out there like this for all the cultures, or if this research still needs to be done and organized and presented to local teachers in an efficient manner.
Amanda says… Hu explains how they are trying to adopt the use of CLT in Chinese classrooms but that is hasn‟t made the expected impact that it would since it conflicts with the Chinese culture of learning. This is a problem since the aspects of the culture that conflict with CLT are “deep rooted in the Chinese culture of learning” (Hu 94). CLT and the Chinese culture have different assumptions about the “respective roles and responsibilities of teachers and students…encourage different learning strategies...and reward different qualities in learning” (Hu 102). There are obviously many sociocultural differences between the two. The author feels that educational policy makers and teachers must make pedagogical choices after taking into account the sociocultural differences which could interfere with what they decide. I agree that sociocultural differences should be taken into account when creating and determining the use of pedagogical methods. I always thought that CLT and the other methods we discussed in class are only used in the US. Are they used in other countries as well? After reading the two articles, it seems that CLT is a highly criticized and controversial language teaching method.
Some shortcomings of CLT (Baxand Hu) In methodologically (or only language) driven approaches to language teaching, learning context is treated as secondary. Commercial reasons for promotion of CLT An assumption that CLT (or any method) has the complete answer in language teaching. Are we marginalizing the context?
Context Approach Methology is still important, but it is only one factor in a successful language teaching. First priority is given to the local context. Second priority is given to the teaching approach (decisions related to materials, methods, goals) Third Priority is given to the language focus: The aspects of language to be focused.
Cultural resistance to pedagogicalimports (Hu) What are some of the culturally rooted assumptions (on teaching, learning and teacher roles) that Hu mentions about the Chinese culture of learning? Why is CLT not well-received in Chinese education system? (Discuss the four R‟s and four M‟s) What are some of the potential conflicts between the principles of CLT and the traditional Chinese culture of learning?
Assignments and reminders Read for next week. Blog at least two hours before the class time. If you‟re presenting, PLEASE remember to send your materials on Sunday night for feedback/suggestions on your presentation. It‟s crucial that I see your plans (and part of the requirement as your syllabus indicates) so that I can effectively incorporate your presentation into our class sessions.