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SLLAT Seminar: Rosemary Erlam (Auckland)

Date: 8 October 2014 Time: 4.00 pm to 5.30pm

Venue: County South C89

'I still don't know what a task is': Teachers designing language tasks

This presentation reports on a study which contributes to research on the implementation of task-based language teaching (TBLT) by presenting data from a research context that has been under-represented, that is, foreign language classrooms (i.e., languages other than English) in school settings with young language learners. It investigates how well teachers in this educational context were able to design language tasks on the premise that adequate understanding of the construct of task underpins successful implementation of TBLT. A number of definitions have attempted to specify what a language 'task' is and to differentiate it from the type of exercises that are typically found in the more traditional language classroom. Ellis (2003) claims, however, that four key criteria are crucial to the definition of a task and that these criteria can be used to distinguish a 'task' from situational grammar exercises.

Forty-three teachers, who took part in a year-long in-service professional development programme in New Zealand, participated in the study. They were required to design (and subsequently teach) tasks in their foreign language classrooms. These tasks as they were designed to be taught (i.e., task as workplan) are analysed against Ellis's (2003) four criteria. Results showed that almost half of the teachers were able to design tasks that fulfilled these four criteria. The study identifies the criterion that was most problematic for teachers as well as the one that was easiest for them to satisfy. Further results are discussed and conclusions drawn that have implications for professional development programmes that focus on TBLT.

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Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Linguistics and English Language, Second Language Learning and Teaching Research Group (SLLAT)


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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