The Methodology of Task-Based Teaching

| December 26, 2009
The Methodology of Task-Based Teaching

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Rod Ellis
University of Auckland

Bio Data
Professor Ellis, a renowned linguist, received his Doctorate from the University of London and hist Master of Education from the University of Bristol. A former professor at Temple University both in Japan and the US. Prof. Ellis has taught in numerous positions in England, Japan, the US, Zambia, and New Zealand. Dr.Ellis, who is known as the “Father of Second Language Acquisition”, has served as the Director of the Institute of Language Teaching and Learning at the University of Auckland. Author of numerous student and teacher training textbooks for Prentice Hall and Oxford University Press, Prof.Elli’s textbooks on Second Language Acquisition and Grammar are core textbooks in TESOL and Linguistics programs around the world.

The purpose of this paper is to consider methodological procedures for teaching tasks. These are of two basic kinds. Firstly, there are those procedures relating to how the tasks specified in a task-based syllabus can be converted into actual lessons. Secondly, there are procedures relating to how the teacher and learners are to participate in the lessons. This paper will address only the first of these.

The design of a task-based lesson involves consideration of the stated or components of a lesson that has a task as its principal component. Various designs have been proposed (e.g. Estaire and Zanon 1994; Lee 2000; Prabhu 1987; Skehan 1996; Willis 1996). However they all have in common three principal phases, which are shown in Figure 1. These phases reflect the chronology of a task-based lesson. Thus, the first phase is ‘pre-task; and concerns the various activities that teachers and students can undertake before they start the task, such as whether students are given time to plan the performance of the task. The second phase, the ‘during task’ phase, centers around the task itself and affords various instructional options, including whether students are required to operate under time-pressure or not. The final phase is ‘post-task’ phase and involves procedures for following-up on the task performance. Only the ‘during task’ pause is obligatory in task-based teaching. Thus, minimally, a task-based lesson consists of the students just performing a task. Options selected from the ‘pre-task’ or ‘post-task’ phases are non-obligatory but, as we will see, can serve a crucial role in ensuring that the task performance in maximally effective for language development.

[private] See page: 6 – 23

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Category: Quarterly Journal, Volume 11 Issue 5