Devindi Samarakkody's portfolio page
Navigate to: Task-based Language Teaching
My name is Devindi Samarakkody. I’m from Sri Lanka. I came to the US in 2017. I graduated from SUNY Binghamton with my MA in TESOL. I’m a first year doctorate student in the department of Education Theory and Practice at SUNY Albany. My research interests include the use of students’ first language in English as a Second Language classrooms, integration of culturally affirmative practices in language learning, and strategic instructional planning. After I graduate, I intend to return to Sri Lanka. My career goals are to become a teacher trainer and an English professor in a state university in Sri Lanka
My Topic and Purpose
Implementing Task-Based Language Teaching in English language classrooms
"From a social-cultural perspective, children’s early language learning arises from processes of meaning making in collaborative activity with other members of a given culture‖” (Liwei, 2010). It elucidates the fact that “learning is embedded within social events and occurring as an individual interacts with people, objects, and events in the environment‖” (Cook, 2008). Hence, as explained, interaction is key to language learning. Most importantly, the Socio-cultural theory can also apply to Second Language Acquisition (SLA) (Lantolf, 2007), i.e., interaction has a positive impact on acquiring a language other than one’s native language, as well. Nevertheless, not all language learners have the opportunity to interact in their second language outside the classroom in certain contexts. In such contexts, ample opportunities can be created for students to interact with peers and teachers to improve their language skills. Task Based Language Teaching (TBLT) is a language teaching method based on usage oriented theories of SLA such as Socio-Cultural Theory (Ortega, 2009). As defined by Nuan (2004), “a pedagogical task is a piece of classroom work that involves learning, comprehending, manipulating, producing or interacting in the target language while their attention is focused on mobilizing their grammatical knowledge in order to express meaning, and in which the intention is to convey meaning rathe than to manipulate form” (p. 4).
The purpose of designing the mini course “Implementing Task-Based Language Teaching in language classrooms” is to give a clear understanding to both pre and in-service English teachers to implement TBLT successfully in their classrooms.
Scope of Learning Outcomes and Content
Pre and in-service English teachers will be able to,
- demonstrate their understanding of what Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) is
- identify the importance or advantages of implementing TBLT in English language classrooms
- draw students’ attention to form (grammar) while students engaging in the communicative tasks
- give feedback appropriately in TBLT
- choose appropriate tasks based on learners’ needs and proficiency levels
- implement differentiated instruction in TBLT classrooms
- design lesson plans including the relevant phases in TBLT
- incorporate all four language skills without neglecting reading, listening, and writing
What is? / Current Results
- Students’ lack of vocabulary to communicate
- Students’ misuse of vocabulary
- Mispronuncation of words
- The actual need of students to communicate in English outside the classroom. Example: Directing a foreigner to a particular location
- Strong emphasis on grammar and students’ inability to apply grammar rules when speaking
- Students’ ability to engage in a basic conversation but inability to go beyond that and engage in an advanced conversation in English
- Students’ lack of chances to practice English speaking skills
- Many teachers are not fully aware of TBLT. They need to know the procedures such an approach implies in order to successfully implement TBLT in classroom. As said by one of the teachers I interviewed “In my case I have heard about it but I always need to revisit the implications of the approach. The more training we have, the more expertise we develop.”
- The methods used in the classroom are traditional English teaching methods. Example: Grammar Translation Method. Such methods do not focus on the practical aspect of language at all.
- Government emphasizes the need to move towards a more communicative approach to language teaching. So, there’s a need to train teachers.
“Task Based Language Teaching is another example of the strong version of the communicative approach, where language is acquired through use. In other words, students acquire the language they need when they need it in order to accomplish the task that has been set before them” (Larsen-Freeman & Anderson, 2011, p. 210).
Therefore, Task Based Language Teaching has the potential to equip students with required communicative competence to speak in English. Further, designing the min-course about how to implement Task Based Language Teaching in an English classroom will serve as a guide to both pre and in-service teachers when implementing TBLT in language classrooms.
What should be? / Needed Results
Teachers gain the sufficient knowledge about Task Based Language Teaching to equip English Language Learners with necessary communicative skills to engage in an advanced conversation in English
Analysis of the Learner and Context
Primary audience: English Language teachers in Sri Lanka who use Grammar Translation Method as the primary teaching approach and who wish to move toward a more communicative method of English teaching
- Experienced English teachers teaching from primary to secondary levels in Sri Lanka with more than 30 years of experience in the field
- Novice English teachers teaching from primary to secondary levels in Sri Lanka
- Pre-service English teachers in Sri Lanka
- English Teacher trainers who want to teach Task Based Language Teaching
- Varying levels of experience in English teaching
- Varying levels of teaching skills due to the difference in teaching experience
- Varying levels of English language and literacy skills
- Primary language teaching and learning approach familiar with is Grammar Translation Method
- Varying levels of knowledge in how to equip students with communicative language skills
- Primary focus is on developing writing skills of students and the other three skills: reading, listening, and speaking skills are neglected. Lack of understanding as to how all three language skills can be integrated in one lesson plan
- All teachers including both pre and in-service teachers are capable of using instructional technology in teaching (internet, videos, audios, movie clips, interviews, songs, PowerPoint slides etc.)
- Both in-service and pre-service English teachers from any country with varying levels of experience who wish to implement a communication-based approach in the classroom
- Both in-service and pre-service English teachers from any country with varying levels of experience who lack knowledge and training to implement a communication-based approach in the classroom
- Teacher trainers from any country who wish to teach what Task Based Language Teaching is and how to implement it in the classroom
- Teachers from any country where Grammar Translation Method to Language teaching is still dominant in the country and wish to move toward a communication-based method of language teaching
Based on the group and classroom discussion and the YouTube video, participants will be able to critically analyze drawbacks of currently used form focused methods of language teaching and identify how TBLT can be used to improve communicative competence of students based on the need and proficiency level of students. Based on the hand out, students will demonstrate a clear understanding of what TBLT is.
Provided with a model lesson plan and a teaching session of the instructor, participants will be able to clearly outline characteristics specific to TBLT and what makes TBLT a successful approach to develop English communicative competence of ELLs.
Given the sample methodology plan, participants will be able to choose one type out of the seven tasks and successfully apply that by correctly following the three phases outlined in the methodology plan.
Based on the YouTube video participants watched in UNIT 1, the teachings done by the instructor, and the classroom discussions they had so far, participants will be able to categorize different ways of giving feedback in TBLT.
Given all that they learned up to UNIT 5, participants will be able to create a full TBLT lesson plan individually and improve the lesson plan based on their own reflection after the mini-teaching and peer and teacher feedback. Participants will also be able to critically evaluate TBLT lesson plans of their peers and provide constructive feedback on how they can improve accordingly.
The instruction will provide teachers with sufficient knowledge, skills and appropriate attitudes about Task Based Language Teaching to equip English Language Learners with necessary communicative skills to engage in an advanced conversation in English
- Teachers are capable of designing lesson plans on their own
- Teachers are aware of all the important components of a successful lesson plan
- Teachers are aware how to align learning outcomes/ learning objectives, learning strategies/ activities, and assessments
- Teachers understand the importance of differentiated instruction and have a basic understanding of how to implement differentiated instruction
- Teachers are aware of pair and group work strategies: how to group students in a way that every student contributes to the assigned task
- Teachers should have skills to conduct a lesson based on English communicative skills and identify strengths and weaknesses of students. Teachers should be able to facilitate and guide students in the correct path as this is a new approach to the students.
- Classrooms should be spacious enough for students to get together and form groups. Chairs should be movable for students to form groups.
- Teachers should have a laptop/ a computer, projector and should have access to internet.
References and Resources
Cook, V. Second language learning and language teaching, Hodder Education. London, 2008, 54-60.
Lantolf, P. J. Sociocultural Theory: A unified approach to L2 learning and teaching .In J. Cummins & C. Davison.(eds.), International handbook of English language teaching, Springer Science Business Media, LLC, NY, 2007, 693-701.
Liwei. Thought and language, Beijing University Press, Beijing, 2010, 10-11.
Ortega, L. (2009, September 13-16). Task and technology in language learning: Elective affinities and (dis)encounters.Plenary delivered at the 3rd International Task-Based Language Teaching Conference. Lancaster, UK.