Lecturer’s signature (& full name): Contents Essay ? 2 References 8 Appendix 9 Essay For the past three decades, task-based language learning (TABLE), task-based language teaching (TABLET) or task-based instruction (TUB) have been captivating the attention of researchers, teacher trainers and material developers (Sanchez, 2004). They have provided an advancing assortment of examination proving the effectiveness of TUB in various real teaching situations, thus along with communicative language teaching approach, task-based learning has increasingly become a favorable approach of several curriculum designers and textbook writers.
In order to maximize learners’ autonomy, realize learner-centered objectives and learning-by-doing approach of Fast-track Program at LUIS, VAN (Unguent, 2010), lecturers there have chosen Simulation Project, a typical illustration of task-based application. As a young lecturer and a former student having accomplished one project, I am composing this short text with the aim to brief some prominent features of TUB and the sound results that the real tasks included in the project can benefit students. Definition of task and task-based learning There have been many different definitions of ‘task” and Willis (1996, p. ) provided one of the most popular one “Tasks are activities where the target language is used by the learners for communicative purpose (goal) in order to achieve an outcome. ” Sheehan (Bibb:20 as cited in Rodgers, 2001) also emphasizes result-oriented incline and genuine language utilization of tasks. Nana (2004) makes it clearer by giving the fundamental disparity between real- world or target tasks, and pedagogical tasks: “target tasks, as the name implies, refer to the uses of language in the world beyond the classroom, pedagogical tasks are those that occur in the classroom”.
Task-based language teaching is mentioned by Rodgers (2001) to be an approach focusing on tasks to propose the plan in language teaching. 2. Key features of Simulation Project Simulation is a speaking project targeted at third-year students of Fast track group at LUIS. The final outcome of the project is that each group of four or five students playing the role of employers have to carry out a 45-minute interview just like in the real life and the rest of the class become the employees actively participating in the interview, longing for becoming brilliant candidates for the needed jobs.
In order to have that final mound, both the interviewers and interviewees have to experience several other preparatory steps. Firstly, the host group (employers) agree on their business and job vacancies with teachers’ approval. Then they have to think of all the information related to the company/corporation and the interview, which is followed by designing logo, website, introductory video clips, recruitment poster and PR project.
Once the recruitment has been released, the other class members have to decide which positions to apply, prepare themselves carefully to role-play for those positions and send the C.V. to the host group. After that, the employers finalize the marking criteria, categorize the C.v., prepare certificates/ cards and other necessities of the official interviews. Normally, the preparation stage lasts for seven to eight weeks. On the official session, all class members dress appropriately for the interview and there are usually four sequences: introduction, interview, tea-break time and wrap (or result announcement).
The teacher often plays the role of an honored guess to observe the whole interview and give feedback in the end. It can be seen that the whole project can be considered a big task which covers several other small tasks. Because a job interview is a real-life situation, English is used as the means of communication throughout the process and learners have to produce meaningful written work (all written materials for the host group and C.v. for others) and spoken language (the final interview).
Both the preparation and the official sessions brings learners certain results as listed in the table: Stage Pre-task Task/ Outcome Big task 1 Interviewers Interviewees Teacher Preparation Task cycle Decide business and job Give comments vacancies and approval Big outcome 1 The company name and available jobs are announced Big task sign logo, website, Search for related Observe and recruitment poster and PR information about give comments project the company/ to the host group corporation Big A set of tools to introduce Decisions about their Comments that outcome the company or chosen jobs and helps the host corporation and connect contact with group to with the interviewees interviewers to complete their clarify the product requirements Big task finalize the marking decide which 3 criteria, categorizing the positions to apply, C.v., prepare prepare themselves certificates/cards, slides carefully to role-play and tea-break food for those positions ND send the C.V. to outcome A set of marking criteria, C.V. categorization, certificates, final objects or arrangements. Make a video clip to introduce the corporation with creative and fun content A video clip to be shown during the tea break for the teacher and other class members to see while the host group give marks to candidates.
Arrange the classroom, divide the task among group members to lead the whole interview Big task 4 Official interview 5 Language focus the host groups Information on the chosen application position Play the role of interviewees by answering the questions and showing themselves Results decided by the interviewers A full interview whose final outcome is a selection of the best candidates for each writing (C.V., announcement, report) communication skills, especially advanced skills of speaking English fluently, giving critical questions and answers and negotiating. Observe the whole session or role-play as an honor guess if required Feedback about the pros and cons of both interviewers and interviewees. Table 1: Tasks and outcomes of Simulation It is also important to note that the whole project consists of three main phrases of a task which are pre-task, task-cycle and language focus (Russo, 2007).
Moreover, each big task can be scrutinized into various smaller tasks and task elements but due to the limit of this essay, I will make it as concisely as possible. 3. Task types As Nana (2004) claimed ‘There are as many different task types as there are people who have written on task-based language teaching”, this essay bases on only one most popular classification of Willis (2008) to analyze the Speaking Project. Willis (2008) assumes that six types of task to advocate successful language learning are listing, ordering and sorting, problem solving, sharing personal experience and creative tasks, each task type has its own components and outcomes.
All those tasks are covered in the Simulation Project. The first task type is listing which involves brainstorming and fact finding. At the very beginning of the project, host-group students’ duty is to determine the field to invest on, which then leads to finding information about the related real organizations. Other aspects of recruitment such as job description or criteria also requires some lists of facts. As a result, the lists of requirements in commencing announcement, job description and job requirement are created [see Appendix 2 part 1,3,4]. Those elements are not only relevant to the task acquirement, but also consistent with each other and close to reality.
As for the candidates, listing is essential to them when they come to find out information about the company and the field or position to apply, some knowledge about their unreal characteristics or qualities is also needed to promote themselves in the C.v. or in the official interview. The second task type is ordering and sorting in which the learners have to sequence, categories, rank and classify. The utmost function of this task is evidently shown when interview board accomplishes the task of categorize the C.v. once they are sent to the company email. Those C.v. are then put into different position categories. Another stage to perform this task type is when the managers evaluate their candidates according to specified criteria [see Appendix 2 part 8 for example].
Interviewers’ final outcomes are their decisions about which candidates are more wildlife’s and which ones are not. The third task type is comparing which occurs when learners have to search for similarities, differences and at the same time, information is matched accordingly. This task offers the chance for interviewers to compare and take their candidates’ performances into consideration. Just like the sorting task, final decision of this task relates to the announcement about more suitable candidates. The fourth task type is problem solving which is generally considered one of indispensable parts [see Appendix 2 part 8 for example] and the most challenging question for every candidate.
Some typical, arduous situations or even hypothetical scenarios are selected to challenge the job seekers, thus they have to reason and make decisions. Even the interviewers have to prepare the solutions to those cases thoroughly beforehand in order to give fair evaluation to the candidates’ responses. The results from these tasks are solutions to such problems which are then evaluated by interviewers. The fifth task type is sharing personal experiences, the most common strategy to start an interview [see Appendix 2 part 8 for example]. The interviewers have to narrate, describe and explain attitudes, reactions and opinions, which can help show their own ways of life. The outcomes should be individuals’ experiences shown in a way the benefit them most in the interview.
The sixth and last task type is creative tasks, which is the most valuable feature of this speaking assessment form as compared to other speaking lessons. The students are free to utilize their creativity in designing their own logo, poster [see Appendix 1 for example], websites or even introductory clips of high quality, just as these products are made by professional designers. Students are also inventive in giving the teachers active roles like honored guests, counselors or president of the corporation, so that they can observe the whole class in a natural way. In my opinion, this task type is unique in the way it combines many other activities that other types need such as brainstorming, fact-finding, ordering, comparing and problem solving. 4.
Procedures/ activities with learners’ roles and teachers’ roles Throughout the long process for the whole class to carry out the project, it is seen that both teachers and students play various roles. To begin with, the teachers are task instructors, who guide the learners at the start of the course on how to make the whole project happen, at the same time they begin the role of course planner. During the course, their counseling role proves to be helpful when students need advice. When it comes to official class, teachers do not interfere in students’ performance but their roles are to observe, analyze students’ performances and give comments. Learners in this case are the center of the classroom and the lesson as Van den Branded (2006) agrees, meaning students play the great role in the learning process.
Typical roles of a student are an explorer of the topic, a performer of different tasks and a reporter of the whole session. The role of an innovator that Rodgers (2001) mentions is also shown in this project when a lot of creative ideas are developed. More importantly, the special feature of this project is that although creating resource materials is teachers’ duty, the host students in this project are given the chance o be a resource to provide essential information for other class members and other students, as candidates, also a resource of themselves when they find out relevant information to promote themselves in their C.v. and in the interview.
This feature is practical in that it prepares these students, who major in English teacher education, not only resource skills but also many other communication and management skills that they need in their future career and life. 5. Advantages and disadvantages of task-based language teaching Equivalencies (2005) has analyses six advantages of TUB and they can be well applied in this speaking project. Firstly, “there is no language control in production stage”, which means that when students participate in the task, they are free to produce their responses naturally without any control of teachers or the host group. Secondly, “learners use their language knowledge and resources”. As mentioned in the previous part, students both have to combine their present knowledge and self- generated resources to complete their roles in the interview.
Thirdly, “learners 6 experiment with language during task completion”, as the whole project lasts for a long period of time, the whole class of students, especially the host group, eve experience with both written and spoken language. Furthermore, “learners’ communicate and collaborate during activities”, it is not just in the official interview, but a high level of collaboration and a great deal of communication are required during the process of preparing for a successful project. Moreover, the fact that “target language emerges from students’ needs” is crucial as English is the only means of communication if the students wish to complete this multi- task activity. Last but not least, ‘TUB offers reflection on language usage” is shown when the host group evaluate their candidates, when students give peer moments and teachers provides learners with feedback.
In addition to Spaciousness’s idea, another good point of this task-based activity is that it is the challenge and also the motivation for teachers to think of creative ideas to apply in the classroom. Willis (1996: 23) claims that tasks that the teacher should prepare must have “a suitable degree of intellectual and linguistic challenge and promote learners’ language development as efficiently as possible”. As students from fast-track group are required to meet high requirements of the course and their drive to face challenges is huge, a well instructed task can enhance language learning motivation and engagement of both students and teachers. Despite those benefits, it can not be denied that the project takes quite long time and enormous effort from the students.
Sometimes with the huge workload, learners’ tension and depression for lack of time or creative ideas are unavoidable. However, this is also a good chance for students to be trained to face stress and manage their time well. Besides, as this multi-task activity requests abundant group work, some uncooperative students do cause trouble and make their peers troubled, in these cases, it is pivotal that group members port constantly and refer to their teacher’s help so that his or her interference or adjustment can be worthwhile. 6. Anal thought As a practical approach in applying authentic materials in the classroom, TABLET in this speaking project has proved to be very helpful for upper-intermediate and advanced students of Fast-track group at LUIS.