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Task Based Language Learning in the Grammar Classroom

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Kevin Werther

on 13 January 2014

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Transcript of Task Based Language Learning in the Grammar Classroom

Important Aspects

Underlying theory
The language classroom as social happening
Language development
Action orientation (?)

TASK as the main objective of TBLL

(Willis 1996: p.34)
Exemplary ´Tasks´
TBLL in the Grammar Classroom

Beginners can communicate and express complex meanings without full knowledge of grammar rules and tenses

→ As such the focus on form is not a direct requirement for lessons focussing on meaning
TBLL in the Grammar Classroom
Task Based Language Learning as...
‘(...) activities in which language is used for carrying out meaningful tasks to promote learning‘

Richards/Rodgers 2001:161

Project: Talk Town
1. Find a group
2. Formulate your goal and plan how to realize it
3. Realize/present your project
4. Feedback

Pupils should talk English in all phases
Revision: Task vs. Exercise
Personal contribution
+ creativity

Open towards correctness


Formal Aspect

Issue: Action Orientation

Action <> top-heaviness
Cannot be restricted to physical activitiy !
Lessons always lead to actions

> Inappropriate as distinguishing feature

Criteria to create tasks for TBLL
Topic relevance
Creating awareness
Prior knowledge
Language needs
Process relevance

Legutke and Thomas (1993:49-64)

> Differentiation!

Nunan´s Framework
Model 2.3 A framework for analyzing communicative tasks Nunan 1989:11

Developing a project in a
language classroom
A conclusion...
High motivation
Certain freedom regarding
the choice of linguistic structure
Gain of world knowledge,
methodical + social competences
Choice of authentic material
The missing focus on
grammar could lead to
Unclear: When + how
should a focus on form occur?
Measurable results
(towards skills + testing)?
7th grade

Motivating introduction of a new topic by listening to a popsong (Beyoncé)

Fill-in-the-blank text

Revision of Conditional I

Acquisition of rules of Conditional II

1. Does this task fulfill the criteria of the task cycle? Do you think this is a good task?

2. At which stages in the task cycle might the students benefit most from correction? How was it done by the teacher in the video?

Construction of a project (rough)
Beyoncé - If I were a Boy
What is (a) Talk Town?
A project
An imaginative town
Built by older pupils inside a school
A town in which pupils can do
simulated traveling and exploration
1. Think of different places they can visit / different situations they can experience

2. Prepare a proper conversation
The Groupwork
In how far is this a task?
Teacher´s Sheet

Contains what the teacher has to say in the target language



1. Hello, what can I do for you?
2. The first show starts at 7 and the second at 10p.m.
They last 2 hours.
3. Okay
4. That is no problem.
5. 12€
6. Thank you. You get back 8€
7. Good bye.

Pupil´s Sheet

Contains what the pupil has to say in the mother tongue


Situation: Du möchtest abends ins Kino gehen.
Du gehts zur Kinokasse. Informiere dich über die Anfangszeiten und frage, ob es noch Karten gibt. Kaufe eine Karte.

Du grüßt
Du fragst, wie spät die Vorstellung anfängt und wie spät sie enden.
Wähle einen der Filme aus den Filmposter.
Du fragst, ob es für den Film noch Karten gibt, weil du nicht reserviert hast.
Du fragst was eine Karte kostet.
Du zahlst 20€.
Du bekommst Geld zurück.

Is this a task?

Why? / Why not?
Quotations of Pupils
" Mir hat besonders gut gefallen, dass es so realistisch und so gut nachgestellt war"

"Ich hätte nicht gedacht, dass ich so viel Englisch kann"

"Schön, dass es so viele Möglichkeiten gab"
Focus on Form vs. Focus on Meaning
As with every task based lesson, a decision has to be made whether to focus on

→ language accuracy over fluency


→ language fluency over accuracy

Both techniques can be used with great success depending on the classroom setting and the learner group
The role of the teacher in
Task Based Grammar Lessons

Additionally to the
basic classrooms skills
and fluent and accurate use of the English language the teacher explicitly has to
engage with students directly

Specific tasks require the teacher to
give up some or even all of the control over the students
for some time and
only offer limited assistance

It has to be clear that
mistakes are not fatal
but instead an important part of the learning process
Practical Tips for Task Based Grammar Lessons

The different focuses are not mutually exclusive to each other. A carefully planned task can incorporate both aspects into a single lesson

Individual learners can be accidentally left behind when choosing a task that does not fit them,

Language proficiency can not be achieved when solely using one approach
Willis´ and Willis´ quick overview on
Start with meaning,
develop grammar
Start with form, communication
after knowledge
T. gives vocab, has S. communicate
as much as possible

guidance and sample sentences are

success measured by the students
growing ability to communicate
T. gives grammar forms, has S. associate these with meaning

aims for the students to produce acceptable sentences

grammar as a frame for communication to fit into
→ Most approaches seek a balance
between these two concepts.
Working phase: progression from easy and more
closed exercises to a more complex and more open

Fortune teller and client: Pupils act out a role play

Haß, Frank (2006). Fachdidaktik Englisch: Tradition, Innovation, Praxis, Stuttgart: Klett.

Haus Villigst, Schwerte (2008). Communicative Skills - Lerner, Kompetenzen, Aufgaben, 03.05.2008, 17.12.2013. <http://www.bag-englisch.de/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/ag3-mandl_aufgaben_ed.pdf>

Klippel, Friederike and Sabine Doff (2007). Englischdidaktik: Praxishandbuch für die Sekundarstufe I und II, Berlin: Cornelsen Scriptor.

Müller-Hartmann, Andreas (2005). Aufgabenorientierung im Fremdsprachenunterricht: task-based language learning and teaching, Tübingen:Narr.

Müller-Hartmann, Andreas und Marita Schocker von Ditfurth (2004). Introduction to English Language Teaching, Stuttgart: Klett.

Skehan, Peter (1998). A cognitive approach to language learning, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Pictures and Videos
van Eunen, Kees (Unknown). Sprachstadt - Anregungen und Arbeitsblätter, date of posting unknown, 17.12.2013. <http://stichtingterbevorderingvandeduitsetaalinnederland.qsite.com/freetext.asp?content=&ftmod=freetext_000000162&id=000000003>

Willis, Dave and Jane Willis (2007). Doing task-based teaching, Oxford: Oxford Unversity Press.

Author unknown [Methodenpool University of Cologne] (2006). Praxis als Grundlage für intensive und nachhaltige Lernerfahrung, 2006, 12.12.2013. <http://methodenpool.uni-koeln.de/projekt/frameset_projekt.html>
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