Putting TBLT on the map: A Malaysian perspective
Language teacher and SLB member Tshiung Han See writes about why he has chosen to take our online tutored TBLT course starting in January 2023.
I’ve been teaching English full time for 4 years in Malaysia. I taught at one language centre part-time for about a year, then full time starting in Nov 2018.
At the centre, one of my duties was to develop courses. I was the only person working on curriculum, but I liked to read research about language teaching and share those resources with my colleagues. Developing courses felt like the logical next step.
The only thing was, I had no experience in curriculum development, nor was I given guidance or resources to develop those skills – despite my repeated requests! I was invited to spend an hour a week on it, but I was still teaching a full slate of courses. I was also expected to help with sales, marketing and tech. All this is to say it was hard to find the capacity for course development.
In July 2021, I went freelance and I have been working precariously for about a year and a half now. Going solo was one of the scariest decisions I ever made, but luckily the Malaysian government was introducing new policies to financially assist workers.
I thought going freelance would provide more time to develop courses. But without experience and without institutional support, it is going to be challenging. But at least I know what kind of courses I want to develop. In my context teaching academic English, Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) makes perfect sense.
I have been reading through Mike Long’s Second Language Acquisition and Task Based Language Teaching for over a year now, and I am convinced that TBLT is one of the best ways to teach a second language. At the very least, it demands further research.
But it isn’t taught at any local universities. How is a teacher such as myself supposed to get experience with this approach?
Then I found out about SLB’s TBLT: From theory to practice course, which uses Long’s book as the heart of the course. They take teachers through the steps of designing and implementing a TBLT course for language learners. No prior experience with TBLT is needed, but it helps to be familiar with current theory and practice in English language teaching.
I like the fact that SLB is upfront about the cons of TBLT. Among other things, it is resource intensive. Ideally, a group of teachers can share the responsibilities of developing a course, working and growing together. But a single teacher conducting a needs analysis, analyzing the target discourse, developing and sequencing the tasks as well as teaching the course could prove overwhelming.
But it also proposes solutions to these issues. Namely, a lighter version of the approach that individual teachers can use on their own. As someone who has been struggling to implement TBLT, this could be a better return on investment. And by joining SLB as a member, I have already become involved in aspects of TBLT course design which is giving me some of the experience I need.
For precarious workers like myself, TBLT may not be the first choice. But a lot of current second language teaching doesn’t respect what we know about language learning. It is not a choice between an easy approach and a hard one. It is about wanting learning to take place in the most effective, relevant and engaging manner possible. I’m sure TBLT can do this, and I’m really looking forward to putting theory into practice when the course starts in January.
If you would like to join Han on our course in January, go straight to our course page for full details on what’s involved. And to receive more information on this and future iterations of this course, sign up below!
The featured image is by Peter Fitzgerald, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons