Saturday, January 30, 2016

Classroom Language and Task Based Learning

This is actually the second time that I attended the TBL workshop by the British Council. The first one helped me a lot understand how the ideas and techniques of this communicative approach take shape in the real worldIt’s really good I can refresh my memory and also gain new perspectives in terms of TBL, especially I know I’m on the right track after briefly talking about one of my TBL lesson plans with the Director English, Jamie. Also, he kindly offered some very useful suggestions of differentiating some of the activities in the main tasks :   

Classroom Language
As far as a teacher of English as a foreign language is concerned, classroom language includes greetings, instructions, guidance, and feedback. It is comprised of three different types: Procedural language is the one used by the teacher to set up the activity. Functional language is needed by the students to complete the activity, and I came to realize the importance of it because students require it to achieve the goals of the assigned tasks. This part of classroom language should be included in pre task(s) so that students would also have the foundation in order to speak the language. Target language is what we intend our students to learn, and to my surprise, it is the least important of them all.   

Tasked Based Learning
A good task engages students’ interest, focuses on meaning, has an outcome and is communicative. Compared with the PPP approach, learning occurs when students finish the tasks instead of doing pre-determined mechanical drills in the textbooks.

When conducting differentiated tasks, consider:
Children come to our class with different levels of ability, different learning styles, different personal experiences and so on.

I’ve been so obsessed with the idea that the purpose of learning a language is to be able to speak it, which is very difficult to realize in such a test-oriented setting here. Nevertheless, not only have I been trying to use as much English as I can in class but also getting my students to speak with tasks that serve as scaffolding to gradually help them overcome the fear and actually have a glimpse of what it’s like to communicate for a real purpose.
Having only passion is definitely not enough. At first, it was really difficult and frustrating because students always seemed clueless about what to do to achieve the desired outcome. Then, I gradually learned to plan my lessons and put them into practice effectively in my class with the help of the online TESOL course, Cooperative Learning and Task Based Learning, which literately equipped me with all the techniques I need to realize my dream.

Now, I can do teaching demonstrations outside of my own school, with students I’ve never met before. Also, I’m working with a brilliant Japanese teacher for our Skype exchange project that requires my students to speak English and communicate with their Japanese counterparts. On top of that, I can also devise intriguing activities for the students to have fun while also applying what they’ve learned at English camps. After more than ten years of teaching, I finally can learn to appreciate the fun and sense of achievement of my job as a junior high English teacher.


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  2. Thank you. Very detailed.
    I did TBLT in one of my CELTA Tp and I was given a feedback based on the functional language cycle. I am still confused as in why the tutor was asked me that I did not scaffold the task. I had a model of listening followed by a gap fill. I gave them useful phrases and then I gave them a map and a toy car with a destination. They were busy talking as to how to reach there. I gave them enough time to practice and then they were asked to perform.
    I Would love to hear from you as to where I went wrong.

  3. Why the tutor asked me that my task was not scaffolded. He said that I should have asked them to write the dialogues and then practice.