This 100-hour, online tutored course is aimed both at classroom teachers and course designers who are interested in adopting task-based language teaching (TBLT) to deliver English as a second or foreign language. It will also be relevant to teachers of other languages who are interested in this approach, as well as teacher-trainers, directors of studies and materials writers. No prior experience of TBLT is needed, but some grounding in the current theory and practice of English language teaching (ELT) will be necessary.
Our premise is that the dominant, structure-by-structure approach to teaching English and other languages, both in private and public sector contexts around the world, is inefficacious. We set out to make the case why, and to argue that TBLT—which is aimed at learners’ specific needs and respects what we know about language learning—should take its place, both in traditional and online environments.
To do this, we will argue that Mike Long’s version of TBLT is the optimum version. Our course is built around a series of tasks relating to key aspects of Long’s TBLT, from needs analysis through syllabus and material design to classroom delivery and assessment. At the same time, however, we acknowledge that Long’s TBLT is a resource-heavy model which is not easily applied in more restricted circumstances. We will therefore be exploring, in parallel, lighter versions of TBLT that could be adopted by smaller schools or individual teachers working with groups with specific needs.
We will also look at the increasingly important influence of new technologies on the TBLT field. As the tasks people need to perform are increasingly mediated by technologies, so is TBLT itself, with consequences for how TBLT courses are designed and run.
- The course is presented by Geoffrey Jordan and Neil McMillan. It also features guest contributions from TBLT specialists Peter Skehan, Roger Gilabert and Marta González-Lloret, language assessment expert Glenn Fulcher, and Rose Bard, an instructional designer working with TBLT in Minecraft. We are also privileged to have exclusive recordings of TBLT pioneer Michael H. Long, who contributed to earlier versions of this course and sadly passed away in February 2021. We dedicate this course to his memory.
Overall, the course aims are to:
- Introduce, explore and connect the theory and practice of Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT)
- Make the case for Long’s TBLT as the optimum version, informed both by research and classroom experience
- Present lighter versions of this model for adoption in more restricted circumstances
- Explore the implications of technology for TBLT
- Prepare teachers and course designers to implement TBLT in a relevant context
Course structure & dates
The main part of the course is divided into five modules, with additional unassessed pre-course and mid-course modules. Each module, composed of two or three sessions and lasting 4-5 weeks, is built around a specific Output task which is linked to the wider project of developing and implementing a TBLT course. Most sessions take place over two weeks. Overall, we estimate that participants will need to dedicate 4-5 hours per week to the course, including background reading and assessment, with a total commitment of around 20 hours per module and 100 hours for the whole course.
The table below summarises the course structure and key dates.
|Module/Output task||Session||Start||End||Main tutor(s)||Time estimated (hrs)|
|Why TBLT?||Now available||19/1/23||Geoff||4|
|1: Presenting TBLT|
Task: Introduce TBLT to teaching staff in a relevant context
|How we learn a L2||20/1/23||2/3/23||Geoff||8|
|Long's TBLT in more detail||10/2/23||23/2/23||Geoff, Roger||8|
|2: Designing a TBLT Needs Analysis|
Task: Outline a procedure for conducting an NA in your chosen context
|Identifying target tasks||24/2/23||9/3/23||Geoff||9|
|Needs analysis for tech and TENOR||10/3/23||23/3/23||Neil||8|
|Mid-course reflection week||Mulling it over with Mike & Marta||24/3/23||30/3/23||Roger, Marta||4|
|3: Designing a task-based pedagogic unit|
Task: Suggest a sequence of tasks for a specific group of learners
|Introducing pedagogic task design||14/4/23||27/4/23||Neil, Rose||9|
|Sequencing pedagogic tasks||28/4/23||11/5/23||Geoff, Mike||8|
|4: Task- Based Materials: Produce task-based material||Principles of Task-Based Material Design||12/5/23||25/5/23||Neil||8|
|Materials in Tech-Mediated TBLT||26/5/23||2/6/23||Marta, Neil||5|
|5: Facilitating and evaluating tasks: Evaluate both teacher and student performance in a task-based learning environment||Focus on Form||3/6/23||15/6/23||Neil||8|
|Task-based assessment||16/6/23||29/6/23||Geoff, Glenn, Neil||9|
|Post course||Evaluating TBLT & course wrap-up||30/6/23||6/7/23||Geoff, Neil||5|
Most sessions include:
- Carefully selected background reading
- A video presentation from the session tutor (approx 30m)
- Interactive exercises to explore key concepts
- A forum discussion topic to explore with your tutor and fellow course participants
- A 1-hour group videoconference with a tutor (Certificate of Completion only)
- An Output task (e.g. short essay, presentation, task analysis etc.)
Course material, required reading & suggested reading
There is only one set text which participants need to acquire for themselves:
- Long, Mike. (2015). Second Language Acquisition and Task-based Language Teaching. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Aside from that, course material will be provided on a session-by-session basis. We also recommend these websites for further reading and exploration:
- What do you think you’re doing? (Geoff Jordan’s current blog with an extensive selection of articles on SLA and teacher-training)
- International Association for Task-Based Language Teaching (promoting research and development of TBLT, and featuring a TBLT task bank)
- O*Net (website detailing specific tasks for numerous professions)
The following books and articles are also relevant as a general introduction to TBLT, although not all of these writers agree with each other (see Long’s critique of the approach of the Willises, for example, in Long (2015), pp. 210-212).
- Long, M. H., Lee, J., & Hillman, K. (in press). Task-based language learning. In: Malovrh, P., & Benati, A. (eds.), Cambridge handbook of language learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.*
- Nunan, David (2004). Task-Based Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Skehan, Peter (2003). Task-based instruction. Language Teaching 36, 1-14.*
- Willis, Jane (1996). A Framework for Task-based Learning. Longman.
- Willis, Jane and David Willis (2007). Doing Task-based Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
*These articles will be made available to participants when they sign up, as will other supplementary materials on a session-by-session basis.
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- The featured image is by by Wonderlane on Unsplash.
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