Taking Teacher Education to Task TBLT Conference 2007 Greg Ogilvie & Bill Dunn University of Alberta [email protected] [email protected]

Taking Teacher Education to Task
TBLT Conference 2007
Greg Ogilvie & Bill Dunn
University of Alberta
[email protected]
[email protected]
“Teacher education still has the
honour of being simultaneously
the worst problem and the best
solution in education.”
(Fullan, 1993, p. 105)
Overview of Presentation
 A brief look at TBLT
 Issues in implementation
 The role of teacher education
 Adopting a constructivist approach
 Structure of the Study
 Results
Defining TBLT
Task-based language teaching is an instructional
model that addresses educational processes in a
second language classroom at a philosophical (why),
structural (what) and methodological (how) level.
At the philosophical level TBLT assumes a view of
second language acquisition as an organic process
that is not directly influenced by formal instruction,
but may be fostered through cognitively
challenging, meaningful use of language.
Defining TBLT – cont’d
To this end, TBLT invites students to act as
language users rather than learners, with the
explicit analysis of language structures and
forms emerging from difficulties experienced
during the completion of tasks. Implied in
this role is a more active responsibility for
learners in determining the progression of
lessons and the course.
Defining TBLT – cont’d
In the planning and implementation process, TBLT
upholds the task as the centre-piece from which all
other activities are based. The task becomes both
the syllabus and methodology of instruction.
Completion of the task is used to evaluate the
lesson, thus the focal point of TBLT is the provision
of learning opportunities that reflect real world
language usage, rather than pre-determined
teaching points.
Controversial Role of Theory in
Informing Practice
 Research-driven theory is based on an
individualist conception of learning
(Freeman & Johnson, 1998)
 Theory ignores socio-cultural factors from
educational contexts (Markee, 1997)
 Perceptual knowledge needed rather than
conceptual knowledge (Kessels &
Korthagen, 1996)
Rationale for Theoretical
 SLA research focuses on specific elements of
learning out of necessity
 Theory guides teachers at a macro level
 SLA research provides an additional angle
from which to evaluate classroom practices
(Cook, 2001; Saville-Troika, 2006)
Issues in Implementing TBLT
 Lack of resources (Ellis, 2003)
 Incompatibility with testing practices
(Richards & Rodgers, 2001)
 Student expectations (Willis, 1996)
 Pedagogical beliefs of teachers (Carless,
2003; McDonough & Chaikitmongkol, 2007)
The Role of Teacher Education
 Teacher education practices largely based on
tradition (Freeman, 1996)
 Most common approach involves ‘telling,
showing and guided practice’ (Myers, 2002)
The Role of Teacher Education
 Tell, show, guide approach:
 Ignores constructivist nature of learning
(Fosnot, 2005)
 Doesn’t provide opportunities to address tacit
understandings developed during the
‘apprenticeship of observation’ (Richardson,
Research Questions
 How does a constructivist inspired approach
to teacher education that is based on personal
inquiry affect student teachers’ disposition
towards and utilization of TBLT?
 What factors influenced pre-service teachers’
instructional decisions?
Inquiry Based Course
 Premised on altering subjectivity:
 Change focus from content to investigation
of professional philosophy
 Expand students’ view of second language
Data Collection Methods
 Analysis of experiences as a language learner
 Lesson analyses
 Concept map
 Explication of teaching philosophy
 Interview
 Pedagogical Beliefs Scale
TBLT Disposition Scale
*TDS is based on responses to the Pedagogical
Beliefs Scale
*Provides a quantitative means to measure the
influence of the course
Influence of Course on
Disposition Towards TBLT
 Average at beginning = 62.8
 Average at end = 70.1
 Average increase = 17%
 Only one student decreased from 86 to 81
Early Perspectives on TBLT
 “Horrible! More of a social studies class than a
language [class]. Too much culture, no
grammatical learning.”
 “There is very little focus on language acquisition.
I think the lesson fails to teach the grammatical
concept at hand.”
 “I don’t see the point of the lesson. It seems to be
more of a discussion session than learning session.
Nothing seems to be related to a second language.”
Later Perspectives on TBLT
 “TBLT was the one I found to be that I would want
to use the most. I believe mostly, while you are
doing a task that is the best way to learn a
 “I like TBLT because the students can work
individually and they can work in groups but I like
the idea . . . [that] they can be creative in a TBLT
lesson. And I just think that this is where they can
mostly put their background knowledge to use.”
Reflection on the Course
 The course had “a particularly catalytic
effect. I did not realize how much of an
impact my experiences as a learner would
have on my beliefs until this year. Until
recently, I might have been inclined to
believe that the way I was taught was the
right way to teach.”
Utilization of TBLT
 Although students demonstrated a disposition
that was more coherent with the principles of
TBLT, tasks were used sparingly during the
five-week practicum
Identified Issues
 Absence of materials
 Time constraints
 Curricular demands
 Practices of the mentor teacher
Underlying Issues
 Epistemological frame of pre-service
 Pressure to conform to cultural norms of
teaching and the ‘good teacher’
 Constructivist approach promoted critical reflection
and professional growth
 Individual nature of inquiry neglected social
component of subjectivity
 Logistical issues are an impediment to the
implementation of TBLT and must be addressed
 Social issues also must be addressed to promote
meaningful change
Strategies for Teacher
 Critically analyze the principles of teacher
education programs
 Expand students’ subjectivity
 Develop historical consciousness
 Promote reflexivity
Carless, D. (2003). Factors in the implementation of task-based
teaching in primary schools. System, 31, 485-500.
Cook, V. (2001). Second language learning and language
teaching (3rd Edition). London: Arnold.
Ellis, R. (2003). Task-based language learning and teaching.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fosnot, C.T. (2005). Constructivism revisited: Implications
and reflections. In C.T. Fosnot (Ed.), Constructivism:
Theory, perspectives, and practice (pp. 276-291).
New York: Teachers College Press.
References – cont’d
Freeman, D. (1996). The “unstudied problem”: Research on
teacher learning in language teaching. In D. Freeman, &
J.C. Richards (Eds.), Teacher learning in language teaching
(pp. 351-378). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Freeman, D., & Johnson, K.E. (1998). Reconceptualizing the
knowledge-base of language teacher education. TESOL
Quarterly, 32, 397-417.
Fullan, M. (1993). Change forces. London: Falmer Press.
Kessels, J.P.A.M., & Korthagen, F.A.J. (1996). The
relationship between theory and practice: Back to the
classics. Educational Researcher, 25(3), 17-22.
References – cont’d
Markee, N. (1997). Second language acquisition research: A
resource for changing teachers’ professional cultures?
Modern Language Journal, 81, 80-93.
McDonough, K., & Chaikitmongkol, W. (2007). Teachers’ and
learners’ reactions to a task-based EFL course in Thailand.
TESOL Quarterly, 41, 107-132.
Myers, C.B. (2002). Can self-study challenge the belief that
telling, showing, and guided practice constitute adequate
teacher education? In J. Loughran, & T. Russell (Eds.),
Improving teacher education practices through self-study
(pp. 130-142). London: Routledge Falmer.
References – cont’d
Richards, J.C., & Rodgers, T.S. (2001). Approaches and
methods in language teaching(2nd Edition). Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Richardson, V. (1997). Constructivist teaching and teacher
education: Theory and practice. In V. Richardson (Ed.),
Constructivist teacher education (pp. 3-14). London:
Saville-Troike, M. (2006). Introducing Second Language
Acquisition. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.
Willis, J. (1996). A framework for task-based learning.
Harlow, UK: Addison Wesley Longman.
Contact Information
Greg Ogilvie [email protected]
Bill Dunn [email protected]

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