Introducing Task-based Language Teaching
By Rod Ellis
Tasks have always had an important place in language teaching long before task-based language teaching appeared on the scene. For example, debates are popular and a debate is a kind of task. A motion is framed (e.g. Students should be allowed to bring their cell phones to school with them).
Two students are chosen to propose the motion and two to oppose it. They take it in turn to make their case. Then after they have made their speeches other students can ask questions or make points for or against the motion. Finally, the whole class votes and the motion is either passed or defeated.
Here is another example of a task. The students have just read a passage about a famous person. One student is chosen to role-play this person. The rest of the class fires questions at him/ her and the student has to try to answer them in character. If the student is unable to answer a question he/she sits down and another student has a go.
Tasks such as these provide opportunities for students to practise communicating. The idea is to encourage students to make free use of the English they have learned without bothering about being linguistically correct. In other words, when tasks are used in this way, the focus is on fluency and language use rather than accuracy and language learning.
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