Implementation of TBLT in the New Zealand classroom

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
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
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
Would teaching in a TBLT improve
student results?
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
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
How task like was my task?
Compare to Willis and Willis’ 6
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
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
Will the activity
engage learners'
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
No, there is no real goal or specific
outcome other than finishing the
Is success judged
in terms of
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
Is completion a
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
In a way, students in a
foreign country would have
to solve clues and ask
questions to get to their
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
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
Barriers to implementing TBLT
in the NZ classroom
Teachers not understanding
what a task is.
Information about tasks can be
conflicting from academic
More time for the teacher to set
up tasks.
Some teachers find it difficult to
change their teaching style.
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

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