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Traditional learning environments (for example, grammar translation and audio- lingual)
are those where the language is taught to a group of foreign or second langu- age learners. In
such cases, the focus is on the language itself, rather than on the infor- mation carried out by the
language or the way it is processed and used. The teachers aim is to assure that students learn
the new vocabulary and grammatical rules of the new language.
Task-based learning was first developed by N. Prabhu in Bangladore, southern India.
Prabhu believed that students may learn more effectively when their minds are focused on the
task, rather than on the language they are using (Prabhu, 1987; as cited in Littlewood, 2004)
Nunan (2006) defines task as a piece of classroom work involving learners in a understanding,
directing, producing or interacting way in the target language while the students attention is
focused on activating their grammatical knowledge in order to express meaning, and in which
the aim is to express meaning rather than to mani- pulate form. The task should also have a sense
of wholeness, being able to stand alone as a communicative act in its own right with a beginning,
middle and an end. The topics discussed in communicative and task-based environments are
generally topics of general interest to the learner. Task-based learning involves those instructions in which classroom activities are tasks similar to those which learners may engage in
outside the second language classroom. Tasks may be complex, for example, creating a school
newspaper or easier such as making a hotel reservation (Lightbrown and Spada, 1999).
There are not many published examples of complete language programs which claim that
they are totally based on formulations of task-based language teaching. The literature contains
mainly descriptions of examples of task-based activities. Breen (1987; as cited in Richards and
Roberts, 2001: 233) makes a broad description of a task:
A language learning task can be regarded as a springboard for learning work. In a
broad sense, it is a structured plan for the provision of opportunities for the refinement of
knowledge and capabilities entailed in a new language and its use during
communication. Such a work plan
will have its own particular objective, appropriate content which is to be worked upon,
and a working procedure A simple and brief exercise is a task, and also are more

complex and comprehensive work plans which require spontaneous communication of

meaning or the solving of the problems in learning and communicating. Any language
test can be included within this spectrum of tasks. All materials designed for language
teaching-through their particular organization of content and the working procedures
they assume or propose for the learning of content- can be seen as compendia of task
Brown (2001) assumes that in task-based instruction, the main concern is not the small
pieces of language, but rather the practical purposes for which language must be used. Whereas
content based instruction focuses on subject matter content, task-based instruction focuses on a
whole set of real-world tasks. And input for tasks may come from different sources such as
speeches, conversations, narratives, public announcements, cartoon strips, interviews, oral
descriptions, etc. He also states that task-based curricula are different from content-based, themebased, and experiential instruction in that the course objectives are more language based. While
in task-based instruction the focus is on communication, purpose and meaning, the goals are
linguistics in nature. These goals are not in the traditional sense of just focusing on grammar or
phonology, but they include preserving the centrality of functions like greeting, expressing
opinions as well.
Why are many teachers around the world moving toward TBL? Why are they making the
change to TBL? This shift is based on the strong belief that TBL facilitates second language
acquisition (SLA) and makes L2 learning and teaching more principled and more effective. This
belief is supported by theoretical as well as pedagogical considerations.
Why choose TBL as language teaching method? We have to ask ourselves that question,
because if we, as language teachers, dont know which method we are teaching according to or if
we do not think about teaching methodology in relation to the different types of learners, to
levels, to materials and last but not least to the learning processes of the individual learner, we
might as well not teach.
One clear purpose of choosing TBL is to increase learner activity; TBL is concerned with
learner and not teacher activity and it lies on the teacher to produce and supply different tasks
which will give the learner the opportunity to experiment spontaneously, individually and

originally with the foreign language. Each task will provide the learner with new personal
experience with the foreign language and at this point the teacher has a very important part to
play. The teacher must take the responsibility of the consciousness raising process, which must
follow the experimenting task activities. The consciousness raising part of the TBL method is a
crucial for the success of TBL, it is here that the teacher must help learners to recognise
differences and similarities, help them to correct, clarify and deepen their perceptions of the
foreign language. (pools-m, All in all, TBL is language learning by doing.


Both the students and the teachers have different roles during task-based learning. Although
far from being exhaustive, Richards and Rogers (2001: 235-236) explains the roles of the
teachers and the students in task-based learning:
Teacher Roles:
1. Selector and sequencer of tasks : The teacher has an effective role in selecting, adjusting,
and creating tasks and then shaping these tasks in keeping with learner needs, interests,
and language skill levels.
2. Preparing learners for tasks : Some training for pre-task is important for learners. These
training activities may contain topic introduction, describing task instructions, helping
students learn or recall useful words and phrases to make the task completion easy, and
providing partial display of task process.
3. Consciousness-raising : The teacher uses a mixture of form-focusing techniques, which
include attention-focusing pre-task activities, studying the given text, guided exposure to
parallel tasks, and use of highlighted material.
Learner Roles:
1. Group Participant : The students complete many tasks in pairs or small groups. Pair or
group work may require some adaptation for those who are more accustomed to wholeclass activities and/or individual wor.

2. Monitor : In Task Based Learning, tasks are used as a means of making the learning
easier. Classroom activities should be planned in order that students have the chance to
observe how language is used in communication. Learners themselves need to attend
not only to the message in task work, but also to the form in which such messages
typically come packed.
3. Risk-taker and innovator : Many tasks will require learners to create and interpret
messages for which they lack full linguistic resources and prior experience. In fact, this is
said to be the point of such tasks. The skills of guessing from linguistic and contextual
clues, asking for clarification, and consulting with other learners may need to be


Task-based learning (TBL) is typically based on three stages. The first of these is the pre-task stage, during which the
teacher introduces and defines the topic and the learners engage in activities that either help them to recall words and phrases
that will be useful during the performance of the main task or to learn new words and phrases that are essential to the task.
This stage is followed by what Willis calls the "task cycle". Here the learners perform the task (typically a reading or listening
exercise or a problem-solving exercise) in pairs or small gro ups. They then prepare a report for the whole class on how
they did the task and what conclusions they reached. Finally, they present their findings to the class in spoken or written form.
The final stage is the language focus stage, during which specific language features from the task and highlighted and worked
on. Feedback on the learners performance at the reporting stage may also be appropriate at this point. (Tim
Frost (2004) shows these certain stages:
1. Pre-task
The teacher begins the topic and gives the students clear directions on what they need to
do at the task stage and may help the students recall some language that may be useful for
the task. The pre-task stage can also contain playing a recording of people doing the task.
This gives the students a clear model of what will be expected from them. The students
can take notes and spend time getting prepared for the task. Ellis (2006) states that the
first phase is pre-task and explains the various activities that teachers and students can

carry out before they start the task. The purpose of the pre-task phase is to prepare
students to perform the task in ways that will help promoting acquisition.

2. Task
The students complete a task in pairs or groups by using the language resources as the
teacher monitors and offers support. This second phase includes a lesson that is
essentially conversational in nature and the explicit formulation of messages, also
includes opportunities for students to take risks. Another process in this phase includes
the shared goals and effective scaffolding for the learners efforts for communication.
3. Planning
Students set up a short oral or written report to explain the class what happened during
their task. They then practice what they are going to say in their groups. Meanwhile the
teacher is available for the students to ask for recommendation to clear up any language
questions they may have.
4. Report
Students then report back to the class orally or read the written report. The teacher
chooses the order of when students will present their reports and may give the students
some quick feedback on the content. At this stage the teacher may also play a recording of
others doing the same task for the students to compare. This phase has some pedagogic
goals such as providing a repeat performance of the task, encouraging reflection on how
the task was performed, and lastly encouraging forms that are problematic to the learner
during the task
5. Analysis
The teacher then highlights relevant parts from the text of the recording for the students to
analyze. They may ask students to notice interesting features within this text. The teacher
can also highlight the language that the students used during the report phase for analysis.
6. Practice
Finally, the teacher selects language areas to practice based upon the needs of the students
and what emerged from the task and report phases. The students then do practice activities
to increase their self-confidence and make a note of useful language.


1. Use the foreign language as much as possible.
2. Use only mother tongue when necessary for explanation of exercises.
3. The pre-task is meant to help create a good atmosphere for learning without anxiety. Give
words and supporting sentences for students to use.
4. The pre-task must supply words, phrases, ideas to support the individual student in the
main task.
5. Remember that a pre-task can be anything from for example: audio text o a video clip, a
brainstorm activity , a small exercise ( cloze, cross word etc. ) , photos (what do you
see?) , webpage ( what do you see?)
Anything that will promote the foreign language and set the minds of the students into a
certain context and atmosphere.
6. The main task must facilitate a process where each student can activate and use his/her
own strategies.
7. Teacher role in the main task: monitoring the processes of the students working with the
main task.
8. Remember the importance of the last step, the consciousness raising activities. Students
repeat their process and their work with the main task must be performed in class the
process will make students realize that language is diverse and that many different
structures and words give meaning and can be used for communication.
Fiction short stories, example of:
When you work with fiction and if a text has a straight forward plot, it is easy for you as
a teacher to clip up the text and turn the text reading process itself into a common task between a
group of students.
The following example is meant to be a main task, but can be expanded with a task like
the one described about, using a format for students to fill in. Obviously the following example
should not stand alone, but should be included into a full TBL-cycle, like the one described

1. Divide the text into small sections logical in relation to the story plot.
2. Take a pair of scissors and cut up the text into the sections you have chosen. It should not
be more than 4-6 sections.

Mark each section with letters or numbers.

4. Divide the class into groups that match the number of sections.
5. Lay the pieces of text (the different cut up sections) on the table, text down, in front of
each group and let each student in a group pick up one of the pieces.
6. Ask the students to read their own piece of text by themselves.
7. When all students in a group have read their own piece of text, they must give tell the rest
of the group what the text says.
8. Everybody in a group must tell about his/her piece of text.
9. The group must now try to put the story into the right sequence.
Short story

Adjectives/descriptive language

Main character
Other characters
Setting 1
Setting 2

In a task-based approach, however, the practice is more likely to be structured in some way so
that there is a recognizable context, purpose and outcome. This structuring may be achieved in a
variety of ways. The common procedure is to use simple questionnaire surveys in which the
information gap is created by the students own individual experiences and ideas. One example
was the survey of students skills described earlier. Here is another task example:
Fill in this chart about your classmates preferences
Favorite male Favorite
Favorite TV
female singer actor or

Favorite TV

Favorite place
in Bali

As a written follow-up, students may be asked (individually or in groups) to write a short report
on what they have found out about their classmates preferences.


A task-based lesson usually provides the learner with an active role in participating and
creating the activities, and consequently increases their motivation for learning. A task-based
lesson offers more opportunities for the students to display their thinking through their actions.
The teacher can also be more open to the needs of the students. TBL allows students to use the
knowledge they have learnt and apply it productively in the task context (procedural knowledge).
This practical experience helps learners to appreciate why certain academic questions are
important and provide an experiential substrate for the development of a further academic
The task usually requires the selection of some objects as an outcome. This can provide a shared
focus for which students can work together. In the process, different participants, including peer
learners in the team and the tutor, can project different views on the same situation and develop
meaningful discussion on the matter. The task will usually generate objects that are also open to
cross group evaluation. The students can present their own products and evaluate others.
Everyone can take part in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the work generated within
the classroom community. This will induce reflection as well as the development of critical
awareness in the students (Ki, 2000).
Swan (2005) states that the claim that Task-Based Learning is a advanced teaching approach,
firmly based on the findings of current theory and research, can not be continuous. The
hypotheses frequently associated with TBL, to the effect that second-language acquisition
happens totally as a result of noticing during communicative activity, and are controlled by

inflexible developmental sequences, are supported neither by convincing theoretical argument

nor by experimental evidence, and are contradicted by common language-learning experience.
TBL offers a different rationale for the use of tasks as well as different criteria for the design
and use of tasks. It depends on tasks as a primary source of pedagogical input in teaching and
lacks of a systematic grammatical or the type of syllabus that characterizes current versions of
TBLT. Moreover, many aspects of TBLT have not been justified, such as proposed schemes for
task types, task sequencing, and evaluation of task performance. Therefore, in line with what
Swan (2005) suggested above, ac cording to Richards and Rogers (2001) the basic assumption of
Task-Based Language Teaching, that it provides for a more effective basis for teaching than other
language teaching approaches, remains in the domain of ideology rather than fact.
While Task-Based Instruction may fruitfully develop learners authority of what is known, it is
significantly less effective for the systematic teaching of new language. This is especially so
where time is limited and out-of-class exposure is unavailable, such as in Turkey. This makes
task-based programs inappropriate for most of the worlds language learners.
According to Skehan (1996), task-based learning holds some dangers if implemented
carelessly. Especially, it is likely to create pressure for instant communication rather than
interlanguage change and growth. Speakers may resort to use some communication strategies
such as paraphrase, repetition, word coinage, etc. Furthermore Norris, Brown, Hudson, and Bonk
(2002) argue task-based learning does not provide any basis for making interpretations beyond
the particular task/test context and it cannot simulate all of the factors that define actual language
use situations. Moreover, the elicited performances may depend on abilities or knowledge rather
than language itself.
It should also be said that task-based interaction is a mainly narrow and learners put great
emphasis on communicating meanings, but not necessarily worry about the exact form that they
use. Therefore, the whole organization of the interaction is equipped for establishing a tight and
selected focus on the achievement of the task. There are a large number of different varieties of
interaction in the world outside the L2 classroom, where there is certainly a lot more to
communication than performing tasks (Seedhouse, 1999).

To conclude this article, I would like to use a simple mnemonic, based on the word task
itself, to summarise some of the aims and benefits that we can hope for task-based learning to


speaking or silently
communicative, cognitive


from all domains of experience


The message is self-explanatory. Together, overcoming the isolation of the traditional

classroom, students with their teacher activate their skills and knowledge. Often this togetherness
may take the form of overt speaking, but even in silent tasks students may keep a sense of the
classroom as a learning community. The activity that takes place is not unguided busy-work but
purposeful movement towards targets and objectives (both in the overall direction of learning
and in terms of specific learning activities). The skills which students perform and develop are
communicative and also - particularly as they move into the second and third generations of
tasks - cognitive and interpersonal. Finally, the boundary between the classroom and the outside
world is increasingly reduced, as the tasks encourage students to relate learning to the whole
domain of their experience.

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Breen, M. (1987). 1. Learner contribution to task design. In C. Candlin and D. Murphy (eds.),
Language Learning Tasks (pp.23-46). Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall.
Brown, H. D. (2001). 2. Teaching by Principles. An Interactive Approach to Language
Pedagogy. Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.: NY.
Ellis, R. (2006). The Methodology of Task-Based Teaching. 4. Asian EFL Journal 8 (3)Online
documents at URL
Frost, R. (2004). A Task-based Approach. On line Documents at http://www.teachin5.
Exposure Of :Task-Based Learning. Granda Zoila, Lechon Marjory, Leon Karla, Merino Yesenia
Ken Lackman . Introduction To Task-Based Learningthe Willis Model And Variations
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Classrooms & Changing Schools: A Study of Good Practices in Using ICT in Hong Kong
Schools (pp: 79-91). Hong Kong, Friendship Printing Co., Ltd.
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EFL Journal 8 (3). Online documents at URL
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difficulty in task-based second language performance assessment. Language Testing 19
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Seedhouse, P. (1999). Task-Based Interaction. 13. ELT Journal 53(3), 149-156.
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William Littlewood. Task Based Learning of Grammar. Language Centre, Hong Kong Baptist


2.1 The Nature of the Method (What)
Before considering competency-based language teaching, it is necessary to clarify
what is meant by competency. Mrowicki (1986) defines competencies as follows;
Competencies consist of a description of the essential skills, knowledge, attitudes,
and behaviors required for effective performance of a real-world task or activity.
These activities may be related to any domain of life, though have typically been
linked to the field of work and to social survival in a new environment.
Richards and Rodgers (2001) also defines competency as;
An element of competency can be defined as any attribute of an individual that
contributes to the successful performance of a task, job, function, or activity in an
academic setting and/or a work setting. This includes specific knowledge, thinking
processes, attitudes, and perceptual and physical skills.
Therefore, competency might be a task, a role, a function which changes over time, and
will vary from context to context.
According to Richards and Rodgers (2001), Competency-Based Approach (CBA)
is a teaching approach which focuses on outcomes of learning. It emphasizes what the
learners are expected to do rather than what they are expected to learn about. This
approach emerged in the United States in the 1970s and can be described as defining
educational goals in terms of precise measurable descriptions of the knowledge, skills,
and behaviors students should possess at the end of a course of study.
Competency-Based Language Teaching (CBLT) is an application of the principles
of Competency-Based Approach (CBA) to language teaching. It sees outputs are very
important than the learning process (Richards & Rodgers, 2001). This means, starting
with a clear picture of what is important for students to be able to do, then organising
curriculum, instruction, andassessment to make sure this learning ultimately happens. The
keys to having a competency-based system include developing a clear set of learning

outcomes around which all of the systems components can be focused, and establishing
the conditions and opportunities within the system that enable and encourage all students
to achieve those essential outcomes.
CBLT especially applies to situations in which the learner has to fulfill a
particular role with language skills which can be predicted or determined for the relevant
context (Richards & Rodgers, 2001). The language used is seen as a medium of
interaction and communication between people who want to achieve specific goals and
purposes (Richards & Rodgers, 2001). In other words, without the language used as a
means of interaction and communication, the students cannot achieve their goals in
learning. It shows how important the language to be performed by students rather than to
be understood by them.
According to Auerbach (1986) there are eight characteristic features to distinguish
the Competency-Based Language Teaching, such as:
1) It focuses on society related issues. The goal is to teach the language in order to
prepare students for the diverse needs of the world.
2) It focuses on life skills to underline that language is still taught as a means of
communication in practical tasks.
3) The focus is on what students can do with language, as well as with certain

4) The skills taught in the programme should be separated into modules and or into
manageable parts, so that the teacher and the students can manage the content and
fulfil their objectives.
5) The student tests results are of public domain, known and shared by both the
students and the teacher. Therefore, students can see their mistakes, correct them and
know clearly what behaviours and skills are expected of them.
6) Evaluation is continuous and permanent, meaning that students are tested before the
course to determine what skills they lack, and are tested again after receiving
instructions to check if they have achieved the necessary skills or not.
7) Mastery is demonstrated through the achievement of objectives. The evaluation is
based on the results obtained from the specific behaviour of the students, rather than
by traditional assessment.
8) Individualised and focused attention are given to each student, the instructions given
by the teacher are not based on time but on the progress that each student makes.

Therefore, the teacher needs to focus on each individual student in order to help in
those areas where skills are lacking.
CBLT is also considering another key aspect of both language and learning
theory is called mosaic approach to language learning (Richards & Rodgers, 2001),
which assumes that language can be divided into appropriate parts and subparts.
Communicative competence is then constructed from these subparts put together in the
correct order (Richards & Rodgers, 2001). CBLT is in some respects similar to
Communicative Language Teaching (Richards & Rodgers, 2001).
The syllabus of CBLT is designed not around the notion of subject knowledge but
around the notion of competency (Richards & Rodgers, 2001,). Therefore, the focus is
how the students can use the language instead of their knowledge about the language.
Schenck (1978) points out that the teacher provides a list of competencies which the
course is going to deal with, and these are typically required of students in life role
situations. The fact that CBLT is an outcome-based approach also influences the
syllabus, especially the kind of assessment which is used. In contrast to norm-referenced
assessment, which is used in many other teaching approaches and methods, criterionbased assessment is essential for CBLT. Students have to perform specific language
skills which they have already learned during the course. The competencies tested
consist of a description of the essential skills, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors
required for effective performance of a real-world task or activity. These performancecriteria form the basis for the assessment.
2.2 The Role of the Method (Why)
2.3 The Techniques How to Teach (How)
The learning activities used in CBLT can be described as systematically designed
activities to achieve a certain competence. These activities are real-world tasks which
may be related to any domain of life but especially to survival-oriented and workrelated situations in a new environment. Typical areas, for which such competency-based
activities have been developed, are for example Job Application, Job Interview, or Work
Schedules. All these areas can be described as a collection of units of competencies

which consist of specific knowledge, thinking processes, attitudes, and perceptual and
physical skills.
The materials the teacher chooses are mainly sample texts and assessment tasks
that provide examples of texts and assessment tasks that relate to the competency
(Richards & Rodgers, 2001). These materials are used to provide the students with the
essential skills, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors required for effective performance of
a real-word task or activity. A great variety of competencies should be improved by
these tasks. On the one hand, knowledge and learning competencies as well as oral
competencies are dealt with. On the other hand, the materials include tasks to improve the
reading and writing competencies.
At the beginning of conducting a course in a competency-based framework the
students have to go through an initial assessment, in which the teacher determines the
current proficiency level of the individual student. After this the students are grouped on
the basis of their current English proficiency level, their learning pace, their needs, and
their social goals for learning English (Richards & Rodgers, 2001).
Furthermore, a course based on CBLT is divided into three stages, which the
students have to go through in order to successfully finish the course. At Stages 1 and 2
the learners deal with competencies which are related to general language. At Stage 3 the
students are grouped on the basis of their learning goals and competencies are defined
according to the three syllabus strands of Further Study, Vocational English, and
Community Access (Richards & Rodgers, 2001).
2.4 The Strengths and Weaknesses
2.5 The Conclusion
CBLT is a method based on functional interaction of language to improve the
quality in term of assessment. And a focussed on the outputs to learning. But on the other
hand, CBLT is gaining popularity in the whole world. It is argued that through the clearly
defined outcomes and the continuous feedback in CBLT, the quality of assessment as well
as the students learning and the teaching are improved. These improvements can be seen
on all educational levels, from primary school to university, and from academic studies
to workplace training. The students can teach each other and help their peers and

themselves to achieve more in physical education. By giving students responsibility, it

can promote higher learning outcomes.
References Used
Auerbach, E. R. (1986). Competency-based ESL: One step forward or two steps back?
TESOL Quarterly 20(3): 411 415.
Mrowicki, L. (1986). Project Work English Competency-Based Curriculum. Portland,
Oreg.: Northwest Educational Cooperative.
Richards, J. C., & Rodgers, T. S. (2001). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching
(Second Edition). Cambridge: CUP.
Schenke EA. (1978). A Guide to Identifying High School Graduation Competencies.
Portland OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.