Random Quotes & Thoughts #1

“In instead, I will focus on one of the few genuinely task-based approaches. It is NOT the ONLY one, NOT necessary the BEST one – an empirical question, after all, to which NONE of US has the final answer – and may ultimately turn out to have all sorts of weakness, but it is the one I have been developing over the past 30 years, with growing, and increasingly valuable, participation by a number of other researchers and classroom practictioners in many parts of the world, and so the one with which I am most familiar. Unlike linguistic syllabi, it is broadly consistent with what second language acquisition (SLA) research has shown about how learners acquire second and foreign languages and has been implemented in a variety of settings.” (Long, loc 341)

I did not know there were more ways to view or apply TBL and I usually linked the term to Willis. Naive of me, I suppose as it’s only human to take ideas, reinvent or adapt them. It happens all the time. But here is why this quote gives me comfort.

1) Long is not saying that he has all the answers for my own context which isn’t surprising taking the fact that he believes in Needs Analysis done by someone who is obviously prepared for such a job. Talking about NA, I read in chapter 5 an extensive list of arguments why we should seek it before writing a syllabus and I couldn’t agree more. I was particular amazed by the fact that he lists the criteria and wrote it in depth, in order for readers to really think critically about what we are doing and how it might fit or not in the criteria.

2) It is the opposite of the current mainstream teaching and ideas that have been spread and accepted as the best thing to do (eclecticism) for our learners. Something I subscribed too years ago when I didn’t know any better. Accepting eclecticism isn’t really understanding the complexity of learning and how it dialogues with teaching. Self-directed learners for instance shows that they can learn without teaching, or able to teach themselves which beats the whole idea of teaching as crucial for learning. (Just a thought of a self-directed language learner as I’m one myself)

3) I have a chance to go to the root of TBLT, and then, learn about other types of tbtl. I don’t regret now never really reading Willis. So, I’m reading Second Language Acqusition and Task-Based Language Teaching (2015) without any filter on tbtl but open to understand what it is really about before saying whether it’s worth putting into practice and why.

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3 thoughts on “Random Quotes & Thoughts #1

  1. For me, it’s that Long (and Doughty, Ortega, Pica et al) have looked into how language is learned, how/what materials can/should be used and found a way of teaching compatible with their research and that of others.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Without having read the Long book, I can only offer my opinion. I think that TBL definitely works as a methodology–the difficulty is in the take-up and implementation, on the micro-level in the classroom, and on the meso (schools/ universities) and macro levels (industry/ profession).

    In the classroom, learners can often ‘game’ TBL lessons – doing the minimum required, or fast-finishing the task. That’s why developing appropriate rubrics with descriptors for each ‘grade’ is important — this ties in with teachers being ‘assessment literate’, tying in a TBL course with (often mandated) assessment. You therefore can’t get away from the issue of institutional support; also the time and skill it takes to produce a TBL syllabus is important here. Introducing TBL would require both institutional will at macro and meso level.

    TBL, and also Learner Autonomy, still have issues of centralisation to address. For example, who chooses the tasks? Poorly implemented TBL would see a top-down approach of tasks forced onto learners and teachers. a bit like coursebooks now. Regarding Learner Autonomy, Cameron (2001: 235) states “…the development of autonomy in learners presupposes the development of autonomy in teachers”. The issue of reskilling teachers in a deskilling industry would seem to be important here for both TBL and Learner Autonomy.

    Furthermore, the ‘Widgets’ coursebook was a task-based course. It wasn’t a success (whether through lack or marketing, or lack or sales, the jury is out) – and TBL is considered hard to ‘monetize’. Widgets was also a top-down approach, not be suitable for all contexts.

    It comes back again to the industry vs profession debate. Here the profession is saying that TBL, according to research, offers an more effective way of learning English.

    Let’s see the industry response.

    Liked by 1 person

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