The e-learning platform of Barcelona co-op SLB

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TBLT online tutored course

Last March we launched our first TBLT online tutored course aimed at teachers, course designers, trainers and materials writers. That first course wrapped up successfully in June and now we’re ready to start again!

Our next TBLT online tutored course: details

The 90-hour course will begin on November 8, 2019 and run until Easter 2020, with a break for Christmas.  As before, the main tutors are Neil McMillan and Geoffrey Jordan, with special guests Mike Long and Roger Gilabert. We hope to add more guest tutors in the near future. You can book your place now (there is a limited early-bird offer) and find out more by visiting the main course product page, and you can try out the first session for free! You can also read about our rationale for developing the course here.

What happened last time?

On our inaugural TBLT online tutored course, we had a full cohort of 19 participants from a wide variety of backgrounds. The majority were classroom teachers with an interest in implementing a task-based approach, with a range of workplaces including private language academies, public universities and specialist training schools. Others were course managers or directors of studies, and we had a broad range of home nations and places of work, including Spain, England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Italy, Serbia, Russia, China, Thailand and New Zealand.

Everyone was brought together by a range of collaborative activities, including some lively forum topics, weekly group tutorials by videoconference, and even face-to-face, as several participants gathered in Liverpool for IATEFL 2019. Participants had the chance to grill Mike Long, probably the world’s foremost expert on TBLT, about theory and practice, as well as tap into the considerable knowledge of Geoff Jordan, who presented the bulk of sessions. They were also able to hear about real implementations of TBLT from Roger Gilabert, who showcased his specialist course for Catalan journalists, and from myself, demonstrating how we have implemented TBLT in classes given by the SLB cooperative.  Overall, the course was very enjoyable but the demands were high, so we began extending the time available for completing work, an experience that has informed our course design for round 2.

What did participants think about the first TBLT online tutored course?

Overall, opinions were very positive. 85% of participants surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that the course helped them develop professionally, with 100% giving a 4/5 or 5/5 rating to the following statements:

  • The course presented content in a helpful sequence
  • There was an appropriate balance of theory and practice
  • The suggested reading helped my understanding of key concepts
  • The presentations explained theory and practice clearly
  • The Output tasks gave me the opportunity to apply what I learned
  • The instructors presented material in an organised way
  • The instructors provided appropriate guidance when required
  • The instructors guided discussion well during tutorials

Here are some of our participants’ comments:

[The course content] was clear and logical.  The tutorials were really helpful and focused. Having time to read the theory and then see how it could be applied on our own contexts was helpful to see which parts could be applied.

Emma Claydon, University of Liverpool, UK

I attended sessions with Neil and Geoff … and I was really happy with the depth of their explanations, their knowledge of the subject, and their acknowledgement of possible limitations of a full-on TBLT in ‘normal’ teaching contexts.

Jane Sabey, British Council, Italy

I am so happy to have participated in this inaugural TBLT course. If you are interested in TBLT, this is the course for you. You’ll have a wonderful opportunity to watch presentations and learn from the renowned professors of SLA: Geoff Jordan, Mike Long, Roger Gilabert… You’ll also enjoy Mike Long’s excellent book, and interesting discussions on his in-depth analysis of task-based teaching and insights from SLA research and philosophy of education.

Ljiljana Havran, Aviation Academy, Belgrade, Serbia

Has anything changed for this course?

Yes. The main difference is the time we estimate the course will take, which we have upped from 46 hours to 90 hours in response to feedback. Also, most sessions have been extended from 1 week to 2. These changes should allow participants more time to digest the content, contribute to the discussions and complete the Output tasks (assessments).

Another important change is the introduction of two streams—one for teachers, and another for course designers. While we encourage everyone to take part in all sessions, we will be offering the chance for participants to opt out of some Output tasks depending on their current role. This is because Long does not envisage his version of TBLT—with its thorough needs analysis, syllabus design and bespoke materials production—as something to be left to teachers alone. Rather, it is a methodology in which both teachers and course designers should play their own special roles. However, we continue to insist that in restricted circumstances, a ‘light’ version of Long is possible, and many of our sessions guide teachers towards implementing this approach on their own.

Aside from these big changes, we are constantly reviewing content in order to improve and update it, with attention to new work going on in the field.

What advice is there for participants?

To wrap up, we asked participants on our last course what advice they would give to new candidates. Here’s a summary of what they said:

  • Set aside regular time for reading to get the most out of tutorial sessions
  • Make a head-start on Long’s 2015 book before the course gets underway
  • Be prepared to challenge some pre-conceptions about language teaching and learning
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks in your classroom practice—trying things out can help your progress on the course
  • Enjoy it—there’s a lot to learn, but the interactive parts of the course help bring things alive!

For more information, please visit the course page, or drop us a line via our contact form.

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