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www.willis-elt.co.uk Honorary Visiting Fellow, Aston University
1. What we mean by ‘task’ with examples 2. Demonstration of short TBL lesson with rationale 3. Closed and open tasks – workshop mode 4. Predicting language points – workshop with transcripts and findings… 5. Sample ‘closed’ tasks which prioritise certain language items 6. Some ways of designing closed tasks
What exactly is a task? When is an activity a task?
Characteristics of effective tasks
• Would the activity engage learners’ interest? • Is there a primary focus on meaning? (Are learners free to use whatever language forms they choose to?) • Does it have a clear outcome for learners to achieve? (Is completion a priority?) • Is success judged in terms of outcome rather than accuracy of language? • Does it relate to real world activities?
The more confidently you can answer YES to these questions, the more task-like the activity. 4
Where exactly is the cat? e) Picture hide-and-seek. Now you ask. 6 . you can put things in it . Here are some clues! it‟s on a shelf. b) Yes or No? Teacher led: There are some birds over the fireplace.Tasks for this picture: a graded task sequence a) Memory challenge: Look at the picture for 20 seconds. c) Guess what I am thinking of. The blue vase is on the right of the clock..g. E. How many things can you list in one minute? E.g... fireplace... blue vase with flowers in. d) Look at the picture for one minute and write five quiz questions to give to other teams – to answer without looking.
Play picture hide-and-seek Discuss with your neighbour the best place in the room in the picture to hide something small (e. (Count the questions.) 7 . Decide together exactly where you would put it/them. a set of keys). 1 minute Change partners.g. Ask them questions – but they can only answer yes or no. See how quickly you can guess what place they have decided on.
Typical TBL lesson framework Priming & Preparation (exploring topic. useful words & phrases) Task Cycle(s) Task(s) Planning >> Report of outcome Form focus Analysis of text / transcript >> Practice 9 .
behind the radio on the shelf by the fireplace.note down the really good places.remember who hid what and where… OR . Best place for keys . 10 . Which were the most popular places? Note: there must be a clear purpose for the class to listen or read others’ reports.g. OR .take brief notes. Listen and . E.Report stage Choose your best hiding place and tell the class.
predetermined outcome? Strategies set? Vocabulary items predictable? Whole phrases predictable? Grammar predictable? Interpersonal talk & task-oriented language? (What would you predict?) 11 .How ‘closed’ was this task? • • • • • • Precise goals.
. quite..How ‘closed’ was this task? • Precise goals. but restricted • Strategies set? variable but limited • Vocabulary items predictable? Yes • Whole phrases predictable? Yes • Grammar predictable? Yes. • Interpersonal talk & task-oriented language? Some predictable… 12 . Yes. predetermined outcome? No.
O g) List 3 interesting places and say why people should visit them. O d) Problem page letter about a difficult daughter: what advice would you give to these parents? O e) Find seven differences between your two pictures. b) Things on a tray – memory challenge. C c) What will life be like in 50 years’ time? List three aspects you agree on.Sample tasks: closed or open? a) How strict were your parents? Find whose o parents were the strictest / most easy-going. Share recommendations. vote 13 . C f) What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you? Tell your partner.
clearly defined parameters. predictable language to open: learners are free to decide on their own solution(s) and ways of achieving them.Closed and open tasks . one predetermined solution. Less predictable / unpredictable language 14 .a cline from closed: a very specific outcome.
Prepositional phrases.. ? Are they…? Task-oriented phrases: How many questions is that? 15 . expressions of location Question forms: Is it .Can you predict some language items? We recorded several people doing the same picture Hide & Seek task and transcribed what they said. >>Write down your language predictions for the task.
Are they – erm inside the teacup on the table? F No. beside the chair? F No .] M Oh where can they be? [……] M Inside that little jar with a lid on? F That’s it – you got it in fifteen.Transcripts F OK. it’s your turn to guess. Er. F Oh. M Oh dear. I’ve got a small bunch of keys and I’ve hidden them somewhere in the picture. M Ah let me see. F Is it among the books on the shelf? M No […] F In the pot of . M Yes.the vase of flowers? M No. I’ve hidden a pen. behind the clock? F No.. F Oh dear […] Is it in the letter rack? M Yes. Wonderful! How many? 16 ... Is it on top of the table? M No. M.. F Oh dear – how many questions have I had? M one two three four five […] eight. That’s four. F Mhm mhm. What a long time I M Erm now . F OK.[…] M Oh dear. You’ve hidden a pen. Er. [………….
The … are … a … … pot … the …. … the left of the … shelf. … the lamp. Practise saying them fast! The keys are … a small green pot above the fireplace. • Choose five other useful phrases and read them to your partner. … the lamp. … … … of the top … . The keys are … a small … pot … the fireplace. … the lamp. ……………………………………………………… 17 . … the left of the top shelf.Form Focus: analysis & practice • Underline eight phrases of location.
. F OK. Wonderful! How many? 18 . beside the chair? F No .. M. M Oh dear..[…] M Oh dear. What a long time I M Erm now . I’ve got a small bunch of keys and I’ve hidden them somewhere in the picture. M Yes. behind the clock? F No.Transcripts F OK it’s your turn.. Er. M Ah let me see. F Oh. F Mhm mhm. I’ve hidden a pen. Is it on top of the table? M No. […………. Are they – erm inside the teacup on the table? F No.] M Oh where can they be? [……] M Inside that little jar with a lid on? F That’s it – you got it in fifteen. F Is it among the books on the shelf? M No […] F In the pot of . That’s four. Er. You’ve hidden a pen. F Oh dear […] Is it in the letter rack? M Yes. F Oh dear – how many questions have I had? M one two three four five […] eight.the vase of flowers? M No.
19 average 320 words. Two minutes.Predicting language points occurring in task interactions • How would you advise someone who is about to visit [+ a country / town / area they know] for the first time? • What advice would you give to the parents of a daughter who is rude. You only need 2 or 3 pairs… . disobedient. and who has become friends with a girl they don’t like? (Problem page letter). often lies to them. Source: Nunan (Atlas) and Cox 2005) David Cox got 25 pairs of native-speakers / fluent speakers to record their advice to the parents.
) thing to do is to.‟. comparatives./ „it‟s important (not) to…‟/ „it might be an idea to‟… / Also „try and/ try to…‟ Note: very few phrases with modals „should‟ / „ought to‟. „the (. ‘got to’. conditionals. ‘you can…‟ . no usual ‘text-book’ advice-giving phrases such as If I were you I‟d. ‘It‟s a…‟ + adjective phrases Problem page letter: what advice would you give? Common: modal verb phrases.Findings from recorded data Advice on places to visit (Thailand): past tenses: ‘When I went.. relative clauses + which. esp. 20 . imperatives Also common: noun / adj + to: e.g.. I used buses mainly‟..
] I‟m going to a concert on Saturday night. D I might be.What are you going to do …? .this coming week-end? Will your paths cross? D Will you be going to Tesco‟s this weekend? B Probably. B What are you going to see? 21 . [.. I‟ll have to go shopping at some stage. as well. yes. so that is a possibility.
• Findings from recordings .will (I think people will travel more. there‟ll be …) . More people will be working from home .will / won‟t be able to Nunan task adapted and recorded by David Cox 2005 22 .going to (People are going to live longer) .will be +ing.In fifty years’ time? What will life be like in 50 years’ time? List three aspects you agree on.
volition. 23 . it is not easy to predict what forms a speaker or writer will choose… • The future is uncertain. since it eliminates choice. Choose one or two forms from the text or transcript to focus on and practise afterwards. as well as prediction. so we need to express varying degrees of certainty. hope etc (lexical choices) • If we restrict learners to „going to‟ it is no longer language use.So can we ‘trap’ structures? • Even within a given time frame (future) and a specific context (plans).
• Important not to restrict learners’ choice of forms – using language is all about choice – “what do I want to mean and what is the best way of getting it across?” • You can deliberately constrain the lexical load by using a text (written or spoken) or diagram or a picture as the focus for a more ‘closed’ task. 24 .
Then describe it for your partner to draw and colour.Devising activities. Coloured shapes in a square – True or False? There are six small blue triangles. diagrams.. There are more x than y. All the/some of the/none of the…) Draw and colour your own square with shapes in. 25 . Do not show your square to your partner. then ask Who‟s got a/the big red ball…/ Teacher-led > Child-led. pictures which prioritise certain language Order of adjectives: Sets of coloured balls of two different sizes – throw them round the class who catch and keep one.
listing tasks prioritising verb tenses Present Simple .List 5 things your family does before leaving home to go on holiday. Exchange quizzes. I would hide under my bed.A busy day: find who had the busiest day. (Hint: start by brain-storming scary scenarios) . my most embarrassing experience. How courageous are you? What would you do if … an alien space ship landed in your garden? A. B. Source: Lamprini Loumpourdi (2005) pp33-39) 26 .g. .learners do a personality quiz. then write their own in pairs: e. …. Compare lists.plan and carry out a survey to find out what people generally do after class / in the evenings / Sunday mornings… Collate and report results. .g. Second conditionals . quizzes.Surveys.Tell an anecdote e. How many things in common? Past simple .
Note: text-books have many ideas – you may need to add a goal or a specific outcome to ‘taskify’ them.g.g. explain to your partner in what situations you use them. guessing games e. Record them x 2 or 3. Greetings: list the greeting words and phrases you know in English and in your own language. planning interviews. Make a wall display.. Then try them out with a fluent speaker. 20 questions Modal verbs: speculation tasks e.Prioritising other language items Question forms: survey questionnaires. matching photos of unnamed places to names of countries Noun groups: identifying a person in a picture of a crowded shopping centre or beach scene. 27 .
help learners to think: ‘What is the best way of getting my meaning across?’ • Use a range of tasks – both closed and open .using language is all about choice.to get learners using language for a real purpose. but always do some form practice after tasks. • Recycle and repeat tasks a few weeks later. • Work from real language data as far as possible: short texts or spoken transcripts of tasks. recorded interviews: learners need lots of exposure. to give learners a sense of progress.Summary • Meaning focus . • Important not to restrict learners’ choice of forms. 28 .
collaborate with colleagues and share materials ENJOY YOUR LESSONS and DON’T WORK HARDER THAN YOUR LEARNERS… 29 . (Do the text-book tasks first then the grammar sections after).Save time: use your text-books. Get learners to transcribe task recordings and find extra texts. collaborate with colleagues… Good text-books will have recordings with transcripts. use them for tasks and form focus. Text-book tasks can often be ‘tweaked’ to give learners a specific goal or outcome to achieve.
Patterns and Words: Grammar and Lexis in English Language Teaching.. Palgrave MacMillan.uk • Edwards C. and J. &J. Rules. Willis.uk/online/online. Teachers Exploring Tasks in ELT.co. Willis (eds) 2005.co. Cambridge University Press • Willis D.References and TBL lesson plans www. A Framework for Task-based Learning e-book 2012 http://www. 2007 Doing Task-based Teaching Oxford University Press • Willis.html 30 .intrinsicbooks. J. [ British Council ELT Innovations Award 2006] • Willis D. 1996. 2003.willis-elt.
uk 31 .org.uk/think/articles/criteriaidentifying-tasks-tbl • Free sample task-based lesson plans at • www.teachingenglish.co.uk/think/articles/a-taskbased-approach • Four articles on TBL by Jane Willis can be found at: • http://www.teachingenglish.willis-elt.Useful websites: • An excellent introductory article on TBL by Richard Frost: • http://www.org.
Miscellaneous slides follow here 32 .
• Start lesson with a teacher-led task. You gain more idea of what grammar is typical for that task.g. and later learners get insights into real language use. you can bring in useful words.Devising materials for closed tasks • Try recording people doing your tasks (time limit!). transcribe extracts. samples of previous learners’ work 33 . phrases and patterns (as in the picture memory challenge. true or false statements on the topic. and ball activity) • short texts – e.
designing sets of tasks based on specific topics or texts. record 2 or 3 pairs doing the task and see what language emerges… Transcribe useful sections. Design form focus exercises exploiting the data. We’ve seen today you can prioritise by using simple pictures 34 or diagrams. Think of priming activities to activate and introduce vocabulary NB lots of examples in Doing Task-based Teaching Harder to work from grammar point to task and find a natural context for specific language use. . Write clear instructions.Designing tasks to provide a natural context for language use Easier to work from topic or text to task . or quiz or questionnaire formats.
she let me stay out late with my friends. and I could usually get some pocket money for it as well. He sometimes asked me to wash his car or cut the grass. so he didn't really make me do much at home. she wouldn't mind so much what I did. but I was never forced to do it. (Tim Marchand 2007) 35 . A: My Dad is a quiet man really.Make some short recordings How strict were your parents? Find whose parents were the strictest / most easy-going. As long as she knew where I was. I think my Mum was also pretty easy-going.
things like that.Recording 2 B: My father was definitely stricter than my Mum. it was always left up to him to tell me off. >30 seconds (Tim Marchand 2007) 36 . But I wouldn't say that my Mum was easy-going exactly. She would sit me down sometimes and make me do my homework in front of her. If I had been in trouble at school. or force me to eat my greens. I guess I was just more scared of my father.
Priming task to introduce topic lexis • When you were a child: – – – – Do you think your parents were strict or easy-going? Did they allow you to stay out late at night? Did they let you go on holiday on your own? When you went out did you always have to tell them where you were going? Did you always have to do your homework before supper? Did your parents make you help about the house? Did you have to help in the garden? What jobs did they make you do? – – – – NOTE – use these 3 texts later for Form Focus. 37 .
Typical TBL lesson framework Priming & Preparation (exploring topic. useful words & phrases) Task Cycle(s) Task(s) Planning >> Report of outcome Form focus Analysis of text / transcript >> Practice 38 .
So why Task-based Learning? TBL provides learners with natural exposure (input). TBL is more likely to keep learners motivated since it builds on whatever language they know in a positive way. to focus on improving their own language and to analyse and practise forms. chances to use language to express what they want to mean (output). 39 . gaining satisfaction from successfully achieving things through the FL. Learners are actively engaged throughout the task cycle. and get chances to think for themselves and express themselves in the security of their group. • Learners become more independent and feel empowered.
? intonation questions../ Is there a. „What about the .‘ So what shall we put?‟ Typical language used: question forms: have you got a. PLUS topic oriented language 40 . Hint: richer language used if they work cooperatively to write a list e.g.Tweaking tasks – some hints Find seven differences between your two pictures Hint: provide more than 7 differences – to ensure the Report stage is engaging as pairs will find different ones..
• Have you ever locked yourself out of your home? What did you do? • Hiding places for keys. and give your reasons.Some more ‘open’ tasks: with same picture and ‘hiding place’ theme • What kind of people do you think might live in this house? Who might they be? Think of five things you could guess about them. 41 . Where do people sometimes leave a spare set of keys? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each place.
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