that pedagogical tasks involve communicative language rather than grammatical forms. This does not mean that form is not important; besides, Nunan’s definition refers to the deployment of grammatical knowledge to express meaning, highlighting the fact that meaning and form are highly interrelated, and the existent grammar to express different communicative meanings ( Nunan , 2004).
Table 2.1 Definitions of ‘Task ‘ as language learning goals adapted from Branden(2006)
A piece of work undertaken for oneself for others , freely or for some reward. Thus example of tasks include painting a fence , dressing a child , filling out a form….. In other words , by ‘task’ is meant the hundreds and one things people do in everyday life , at work , at party and in between. Tasks are the things people will tell you they do if you ask them and they are not applied linguistics.
A piece of work or activity usually , with a specified objectives , undertaken as part of an educational course , at work , or used to elicit data for research.
Any activity in which a person engages , given an appropriate setting in order to achieve a specified class of activities.
Bachman & Palmer (1996)
An activity that individual in using language for the purpose of achieving a particular goal or objective in a particular situation.
Bygate et al (2001)
An activity which requires learners to use language , with emphasis on meaning to attain an objective.
The definitions in Table 2.1 have much in common. They emphasize that tasks are activities ( things people do ) and that these activities are goal –directed. According Bachman and Palmer (1996) and Bygate et al (2001) definitions , it was found that they stressed that even though the goal that the learner aims to achieve need not be linguistic (e.g. painting a fence) the task necessitates language use for its performance. In other word , painting a fence becomes a language task if it cannot be performed without some use of language ( e.g. understanding instructions given by a partner , reading the instruction on the paint pot). So by understanding language input and by producing language output i.e. but interacting with other people in real – life situations through the use of language the goals that the learner has in mind can be better achieved (Branden , 2006, pp.3-4).
Table 2.2 Definitions of Task as an educational activity adapted from Branden(2006)
An activity or action which is carried out as the result of processing or understanding language i.e. as a response. For example , drawing a map while listening to a tape , and listening to an instruction and performing a command , may be referred to a task. A task usually requires that the teacher to specify what will be regarded as successful completion of the task. The use of a variety of different kinds of tasks in language teaching is said to make teaching more communicative…. Since it provides purpose for classroom activity which goes beyond practice of language for its own sake
The defining characteristic of task – based content is that it uses activities that the learners have to do for non- instruction purposes outside the classroom as opportunities for language learning. Tasks are distinct from other activities to the degree that they have non- instructional.
Table 2.2 continued
A piece of classroom work involves learners in comprehending, manipulating, producing or interacting in the target language while their attention is primarily focused on meaning rather than form.
An activity in which:
• Meaning is primary.
• There is some communication problem to solve.
• There is some sort of relationship to complete real- task world activities.
• Task completion has some activity.
• The assessment of the task is in terms of outcome.
A work plan that requires learners to process language pragmatically in order to achieve an outcome that can be evaluated in terms of whether the correct or appropriate prepositional content has been conveyed. To this end, it requires them to give primary attention to meaning and to make use of their own linguistic resources , although the design of the task may predispose them to choose particular forms. A task is intended to result in language use that bears a resemblance, direct or in direct, to the way language is used in the real world.
According to Table 2.2, tasks are introduced as a basic unit for educational activity and also a number of definitions emphasize that there should be a link between the tasks performed by learners in the language classroom and the outside world. The thing that is very important is that the things learner do with the target language in the classroom should be related to what the learners are supposed to be able to do with the target language in the real world. So the preliminary need analysis for establishing course content in terms of the real – world target tasks that learners need to be able to perform constitutes a necessary step in designing a TBLT curriculum or syllabus (Long & Crookes ,1993 ; Long & Norris , 2000; Long, 2005 , cited in Branden , 2006, p.7). Moreover, most of the definitions in Table 2.2 emphasize the primary of meaning learners should pay attention to the meaning exchanges. Classroom tasks should facilitate meaningful interaction and offer learners, plenty of opportunity to process meaningful input and produce meaningful output in order to reach relevant and obtainable goals. In other words, tasks invite the learner to act primarily as a language user, not as a language learner (Branden , 2006) .
In one typology, Pica, Kanagy, and Falodum(1993) classify tasks according to the type of interaction that occurs in task accomplishment and give the following classification:
• Jigsaw tasks: These involve learners combining different pieces of information to form a whole ( e.g., three individuals or groups may have three different parts of a story and have to piece the story together)
• Information-gap tasks: One student or group of students has one set of information and another student or group has a complementary set of information. They must negotiate and find out what the other party’s information is in order to complete an activity.
• Problem-solving tasks: Students are given a problem and a set of information. They must arrive at a solution to the problem. There is generally a single resolution of the outcome.
• Decision-making tasks: Students are given a problem for which there are a number of possible outcomes and they must choose one through negotiation and discussion.
• Opinion exchange tasks: Learners engage in discussion and exchange of ideas ( cited in Richards& Rodgers, 2001, p.234).
Moreover, other characteristics of tasks have also been described, such as the following:
• One way or Two-way: Whether the tasks involves a one-way exchange of information or a two-way exchange.
• Convergent or divergent: Whether the students achieve a common goal or several different goals.
• Collaborative or Competitive: Whether the students collaborate to carry out a task or compete with each other von a task.
• Single or Multiple outcomes: Whether there is a single outcome or many different outcomes are possible.
• Concrete or abstract language: Whether the task involves the use of concrete language or abstract language.
• Simple or Complex processing: Whether the linguistic demands of the task are relatively simple or complex.
• Reality- based or not reality- based: Whether the task mirrors a real- world activity or is a pedagogical activity not found in the real world. (Richards & Rodgers, 2001, pp.234-235)
Tasks can be classified in different ways. Prabhu (1987) was the first one who classified tasks into three types: information gap, reasoning gap, and opinion gap. While information gap activities involve a transfer of given information from one person to another, the reasoning gap activities involve deriving some new information from given information through processes of inference, deduction, and practical reasoning. The third type, which is an opinion gap activity, involves identifying and articulating a personal preference or feeling (Nunan, 2004).
Nunan (2004) divided tasks into two categories: real-world tasks or target tasks and pedagogical tasks. The tasks in real world focus on daily life usage and aim to improve the learners’ abilities to fulfill similar tasks in real life while the teaching tasks involve the theories of second language acquisition and are applied in certain teaching situations only. Pedagogical tasks are derived from the tasks in real life; and could be sub-tasks in real life.
This study used the Nunan’s (2004) classification of the tasks as the framework which groups the tasks according to the strategies underpinning them. Each macro task type was subdivided into different micro types as it comes following:
• Cognitive: Classifying / Predicting / Inducing / Take Notes / Concept Mapping / Inferencing / Discriminating / Diagramming
• Interpersonal: Cooperating / Role- Playing
• Linguistic: Conversational Patterns / Practicing / Using Context / Summarizing / Selective Listening / Skimming
• Affective: Personalizing / Self – Evaluating / Reflecting
• Creative: Brainstorming
2.4 Research in Task-Based Teaching(TBLT)
Numerous studies have been conducted in TBLT that some of them are introduced here. Communicative Tasks and the Language Curriculum
(2003) ‘Integrating intellectual capital and knowledge management’. Long Range Planning, 30(3), 399-405. 41) Uziene, J. C., (2010), Entrepreneurship and Growth: The Strategic Use of External Resources, Journal of Business Venturing, Vol. 4, PP: 133-147. 42) ادامه مطلب…