Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Integration of Task-Based Approaches in a TESOL Course

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Integration of Task-Based Approaches in a TESOL Course

Article excerpt

Abstract

Under task-based language teaching (TBLT), language learners engage in purposeful, problem-oriented, and outcome-driven tasks that are comparable to real-world activities. This qualitative case study discusses the integration of a task-based approach into a TESOL course in a language teacher education program in Taiwan with regard to 39 participants' attitude and learning in a northern city in Taiwan. The major data in this study included participants' projects, class observations and class PowerPoint slides, and class evaluations. The study has the following findings. First, a total of 20 tasks were designed in order to help participants be familiar with TESOL issues. Second, participants held positive attitudes toward the integration of tasks into this TESOL course because they felt that they learned TESOL issues. They regarded Catherine as a role model in modeling the task-based approach into the class and she clearly explained how each task should be carried out and completed. Moreover, she scaffolded participants while they had problems. Finally, participants learned TESOL issues, different types of task, and research methods through completing the tasks, group discussion, classmates' sharing, reading texts and references, and the instructor's scaffolding.

Keywords: congruent teaching, scaffold, task, task-based approach, TESOL issues

1. Introduction

Under task-based language teaching (TBLT), language learners engage in purposeful, problem-oriented, and outcome-driven tasks that are comparable to real-world activities. According to Adams (2009), task-based language teaching has been practiced at the nexus of theories including input processing (Van Patten, 1996), information process (Levelt, 1989), the interactionist approach (Mackey & Gass, 2006), and neo-Vogotskian socio-cultural theory (Lantolf, 2000a). By doing so, language teachers encourage meaningful communication and provide a context for learners to study the language (Willis, 1996). Task-based or task-supported teaching has been advocated as a means of promoting language learning in language classrooms in different settings (Branden, Gorp, & Verhelst, 2007; Eckerth & Siekmann, 2008; Samuda & Bygate, 2008; Van den Branden, 2006) and has become prominent a research focus in the last decade (Adams, 2009; Ellis, 2003). However, when implementing TBLT in language classrooms, language teachers face some difficulties and uncertainties in terms of classroom managerial and disciplinary issues, learners' language proficiency, or teachers' competence and theoretical knowledge (Carless, 2003; Littlewood, 2004; Plews & Zhao, 2010).

Successfully implementing TBLT or a task-based approach into language classrooms depends on English teachers' competence, expertise, and attitudes. In order to effectively turn the theoretical knowledge base of TBLT or a task-based approach into effective practice, language teachers are encouraged to understand better the principles and procedures of TBLT and to develop awareness of their own perceptions and attitudes (Karavas-Doukas, 1996; Plews & Zhao, 2010). Current studies on TBLT or a task-based approach focus mostly on language classrooms, but less on language teacher education programs. These programs must prepare pre-service and in-service teachers with the skills and knowledge needed to make appropriate lesson adaptations, accommodations, and modifications (Plews & Zhao, 2010). This study discusses the integration of a task-based approach into a TESOL course in a language teacher education program in Taiwan with regard to participants' attitude and learning. The following questions were discussed. First, what types of tasks were designed and identified in the course? Second, what was the participants' attitude toward the integration of a task-based approach into the TESOL seminar course? Did participants perceive the instructor as a role model regarding the task-based approach? …

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