The e-learning platform of Barcelona co-op SLB

TBLT: From theory to practice (Oct 20)

(2 customer reviews)


Our third tutored online Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) course is now available for registration. This 100-hour course, with tutors Geoffrey Jordan and Neil McMillan, and special guest contributions from TBLT and assessment experts Mike LongRoger Gilabert and Glenn Fulcher, will begin on October 16th 2020 and end on April 15th 2021.

Please see further below for a detailed description, or take a look at our free preview session. You can also contact us with any questions via the form on our home page.

There are two, differently-priced registration options depending on your course objective: to achieve a Certificate of participation or a Certificate of completion. The table below summarises the course features available for each option.

Course featureCertificate of participationCertificate of completion
Dynamic course content, including reading, audiovisual resources and activities
Participation in moderated forum activities
Participation in tutorials (via Zoom)
Access to tutorial recordings
Completion of Output tasksOptionalEssential
Grading and feedback on Output tasks by tutor
Tutor support

As Output tasks are optional for the Certificate of participation, less time may be required to follow the course (around 70-80 hours rather than 100).

Once you have selected your objective, payment can be made in full or you can choose to pay a 50% deposit now. The balance will be due by October 1st 2020.

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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 established, coursebook-driven approach to teaching English, both in private and public sector ELT around the world, is both inefficient and badly thought through. 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.

Course aims

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, 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 100 hours (70-80 hours for those aiming for a Certificate of participation and choose to opt out of Output tasks).

The table below summarises the course structure and key dates.

Module/Output taskSessionStartEndMain tutor(s)Time estimated (hrs)
Why TBLT?Now available15/10/20Geoff4
1: Presenting TBLT
: Introduce TBLT to teaching staff in a relevant context
How we learn a L216/10/2029/10/20Geoff8
Which TBLT?30/10/205/11/20Neil5
Long's TBLT in more detail6/11/2019/11/20Geoff, Roger8
2: Designing a TBLT Needs Analysis
: Outline a procedure for conducting an NA in your chosen context
Identifying target tasks20/11/203/12/20Geoff9
Needs analysis for tech and TENOR4/12/2017/12/20Neil8
Festive breakN/A18/12/207/1/21N/AN/A
Mid-course reflection weekMulling it over with Mike Long8/1/2114/1/21Geoff, Mike4
3: Designing a task-based pedagogic unit
: Suggest a sequence of tasks for a specific group of learners
Introducing task design & sequencing15/1/2128/1/21Neil9
Complexity in task & syllabus design29/1/2111/2/21Geoff, Mike8
4: Facilitating task performance
: Evaluate a task-based lesson
Methodological and Pedagogical Principles26/2/214/3/21Geoff5
Focus on Form5/3/2118/3/21Neil8
5: Designing task-based assessments
: Put together an assessment for a specific task
Task-based assessment19/3/211/4/21Geoff, Glenn, Neil9
Spring breakN/A2/4/218/4/21N/AN/A
5: Designing task-based assessments (cont.)Evaluating TBLT & course wrap-up9/4/2115/4/21Geoff, Neil5

You can get a flavour of the course now by working through our Taster session, Why TBLT?. This will also give you a feel for the session structure. 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:

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.

More information

  • Please use the contact form on our home page and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
  • The featured image is by by Wonderlane on Unsplash.
  • All other content (c) Serveis Lingüístics de Barcelona, 2018-2020. All rights reserved.

Additional information

Course objective

Certificate of participation, Certificate of completion

2 reviews for TBLT: From theory to practice (Oct 20)

  1. Jonathan (verified owner)

    An excellent course! Mike Long’s book on TBLT is a challenging read, but Neil and Geoff helped to unpack the key ideas and encouraged us to think about how TBLT can be used in different teaching contexts. This opportunity to personalise tasks and assignments to our own individual contexts was definitely one of the real strengths of the course. It was also great to share ideas and compare notes with teachers from around the world, as well as get the chance to hear from experts like Mike Long and Roger Gilabert. Since I’ve finished the course, I’ve found myself referring back to lots of the resources for ideas for classes and training sessions with teachers. Would really recommend the course to anyone who wants to explore TBLT in their own teaching practice.

  2. Stephen Allen (verified owner)

    Having completed the second iteration in April 2020, I can’t recommend this course highly enough. With Mike Long’s thought-provoking book and carefully selected additional reading materials, we learnt how to conduct a needs analysis in order to identify the target tasks undertaken by our own students, how to create prototypical texts and other student-specific materials from the collection and analysis of target discourse, and how to derive pedagogic tasks from target task types in order to create and sequence a syllabus targeted at students’ individual language-learning requirements.

    As the course progressed, I was able to apply what I was learning to an ESP course that I was teaching at the time. The feedback I’ve since received from those ESP students included: “[this], for me personally, is a new way of teaching”, and “The end result [of this ESP course] was really what I wanted, i.e. a tailored and, most importantly, very effective course.” It is thanks to this SLB TBLT course, and Neil and Geoff’s expertise in particular, that I was able to prepare so effectively and receive such satisfying feedback from students. The online tutorials were excellent: Neil and Geoff helped me apply Long’s TBLT to my particular teaching circumstances. The output tasks were very challenging and the feedback very detailed.

    Whether you have a couple of years of teaching experience or fifteen, the course will be challenging and rewarding. If you want to improve your teaching or take it in a new direction, I highly recommend this course.

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