A Practical Guide to a Task-based Curriculum: Planning, Grammar Teaching and Assessment

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Originating from a genuine need of the secondary school teachers of English in Hong Kong to understand what it means to implement a task-based curriculum in the English classroom, this book aims to support and empower frontline ELT teachers in implementing a task-based approach systematically without losing sight of the importance of grammar teaching within the framework of tasks. Useful examples are provided to illustrate how grammar teaching can be conducted through meaningful tasks in authentic contexts. The importance of viewing assessment as an integral part of the learning
ISBN
978-962-937-135-7
Pub. Date
May 1, 2008
Weight
0.44kg
Paperback
196 pages
Dimension
143 x 210 mm

An important feature of the development of English language teaching in Hong Kong over recent years has been a gradual move away from teacher-centred to learner-centred classrooms. The former are organized in a familiar traditional way: the teacher contro

An important feature of the development of English language teaching in Hong Kong over recent years has been a gradual move away from teacher-centred to learner-centred classrooms. The former are organized in a familiar traditional way: the teacher controls almost everything that goes on and focuses mainly on transmitting pre-determined language knowledge to the class; success is measured largely by how well the students can absorb and use this knowledge. The latter introduce new aims and forms of organization which are often less familiar to teachers.
In the learner-centred classroom, the starting point is not so much the nature of the knowledge to be acquired (though this is still of course important) as the nature and needs of the learners who wish to acquire it. We are more aware than before that these learners are all different in crucial ways: in ability, attitude, learning style, personality, and countless other ways. They do not learn simply by absorbing pre-determined material but need to interact with it and process it, so that they can construct their own internal representations of it. And if the language they learn is to become truly internalized and available for use, they need to experience it not just through decontextualized samples, but in situations where they can use it for real communication.
The approach which—in Hong Kong as well as in numerous other parts of the world—has been developed to respond to these new perceptions is the task-based approach. In the task-based approach, “tasks” in which learners use the language to achieve real purposes through real communication play a central role. Three aspects of this role are especially important. First, tasks connect classroom learning to the world in which the learners will need to use their English. This has powerful potential for motivating learning and ensuring that it is relevant. Second, through providing contexts for the communicative use of language, tasks activate mechanisms for acquiring language and developing the ability to use it. Third, they offer a means of organizing language learning not around separate elements of language (e.g. vocabulary and grammatical structures) but around those aspects of communication which are the real goal of learning.
One of the features of any educational innovation is that it can only succeed if it is clear to teachers how they can integrate it into their own practice and implement it in the classroom. The task-based approach has presented challenges in this respect. At the level of basic principles, for example, there have been debates about the basic concept of “tasks”. How strong must the focus on communication be, before we can say that an activity is a task? Does contextualized practice satisfy the definition? What role should be given to activities which are not tasks (i.e. to what are often called “exercises”), such as practising grammar and memorizing vocabulary? At the practical level, some teachers have found it difficult to reduce their control of the class (as it may sometimes seem) and allow the students to interact independently. The issue of task-based assessment is a further source of worry, especially in an environment like Hong Kong where much assessment is regarded as very “high-stakes”.
Introduction
1."Tasks" in Language Teaching and Learning
    —Icy LEE
2. Teaching and Planning for Task-based Learning
    —Anne MA
3. Grammar Teaching and Task-based Learning
    —May PANG
4. Planning and Teaching Task-related Grammar
    —Elizabeth WALKER
5. Task-based Assessment
    —Alice CHOW and Benjamin LI