Task Based Learning Does it Work? Generally when I teach Spanish in the class room I: Go through the new language I want student’s to learn. Get students to play games using the new language. Have students do other relevant activities to do with the new language. Revise the new language at a later time. I wanted to change this to using a task based approach whereby I included a task to see to see if it would improve my student’s results. Advantages of TBLT: Willis and Willis (2007) argue that “the most effective way to teach language is by engaging learners in real language use in the classroom.” Also that learner engagement in real world scenarios is “done by designing tasks, discussion, problems, games and so on – which require learners to use language for themselves”. Would teaching in a TBLT improve student results? Intervention: 1. Randomly break the students into two groups. 2. Have a pre-task phase where all the students learnt the new vocabulary they needed to complete the task or activity. 3. Have half of the class do a task, and the others do an activity. 4. Have a post-task phase where as a class we discussed and evaluated the results and the effectiveness of the task and activity with the students. How task like was my task? Compare to Willis and Willis’ 6 Questions. Task Vs Activity Task: Students in pairs have to find their way around the school based on clues written in Spanish. They also have to speak in Spanish to get several of the clues (a bit like the amazing race). First group finished wins. Activity: Students in pairs complete a sheet using the same clues where the just have to write down the answer, and there is no prize. Willis and Willis (2007:12-14). ‘The more confidently you can answer yes to each of these questions, the more task-like the activity.’ TABLE Question Task Activity Will the activity engage learners' interest? Yes, they will be excited to go around the school finding clues, and they will want to win. No, some students will like solving the clues, but there will not be as motivated as the task group. Is there a primary focus on meaning? Yes, students have to solve the clues and understand them to be able to complete the task. Sort of, they will need to understand to put the right answer, but if they don’t understand they could just go to the next clue. Is there a goal or an outcome? Yes, to be the first group finished with all the clues solved. No, there is no real goal or specific outcome other than finishing the sheet. Is success judged in terms of outcome? Yes, if students make it back with all there clues then they have understood the clues and were able to ask for the next clue in Spanish. In a way, I will be able to see if they had success by the completion of their sheet. But not as much as the task. Is completion a priority? Yes, definitely, as students will be trying to be the first group finished. They can’t do this without completing the task. No, not really. Students won’t have as much motivation to finish as the task. Does the activity relate to real world activities? In a way, students in a foreign country would have to solve clues and ask questions to get to their destination. No. Tentative Results Both groups improved. The task based group achieved better results for the oral and visual questions of the test. The activity group did better in the written questions. Students that were in the task group said they had more fun with doing the task. Not one member of the task group was able to properly complete the task. Next Steps: Due to the students having fun doing the task I am going to continue to teach in a task based method. However I believe the pre-task activities and post task activities are just as important to the learning of the students. If I don’t scaffold the tasks properly, then this new way of teaching will be as unsuccessful as the old methods. To sum up: advantages of TBLT in the NZ classroom Students have more fun doing tasks rather than activities. Students are more motivated to learn languages. Tasks are more learner centred allowing the teacher more time to assess and facilitate learning. Most tasks have real world outcomes. Barriers to implementing TBLT in the NZ classroom Teachers not understanding what a task is. Information about tasks can be conflicting from academic papers. More time for the teacher to set up tasks. Some teachers find it difficult to change their teaching style. References Ellis, R. (2009). Rask-based language teaching: Sorting our misunderstandings. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 19(3), 221-246. Klapper, J. (2003). Taking communication to task? A critical review of recent trends in language teaching. Language Learning Journal, 27, 33-42. Willis, D., &Willis, J. (2007). Doing taskbased teaching. Oxford, UK: University Press.