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A study on the use of task-based approach in teaching speaking to the 2nd year English majored students

VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HA NOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
FACULTY OF POST - GRADUATE STUDIES
***

LƢƠNG THỊ MINH PHƢƠNG


A STUDY ON THE USE OF TASK-BASED APPROACH IN
TEACHING SPEAKING TO THE 2
nd
YEAR ENGLISH MAJORED
STUDENTS
(NGHIÊN CỨU VIỆC SỬ DỤNG PHƢƠNG PHÁP DẠY HỌC THEO
ĐƢỜNG HƢỚNG GIAO NHIỆM VỤ TRONG DẠY HỌC KĨ NĂNG
NÓI CHO SINH VIÊN NĂM THỨ HAI CHUYÊN TIẾNG ANH)


M.A. MINOR PROGRAMME THESIS




Field: English Teaching Methodology
Code: 6014.0111





HA NOI, 2014
VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HA NOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
FACULTY OF POST - GRADUATE STUDIES
***

LƢƠNG THỊ MINH PHƢƠNG


A STUDY ON THE USE OF TASK-BASED APPROACH IN
TEACHING SPEAKING TO THE 2
nd
YEAR ENGLISH MAJORED
STUDENTS
(NGHIÊN CỨU VIỆC SỬ DỤNG PHƢƠNG PHÁP DẠY HỌC THEO
ĐƢỜNG HƢỚNG GIAO NHIỆM VỤ TRONG DẠY HỌC KĨ NĂNG
NÓI CHO SINH VIÊN NĂM THỨ HAI CHUYÊN TIẾNG ANH)


M.A. MINOR PROGRAMME THESIS


Field: English Teaching Methodology
Code: 6014.0111
Supervisor: Dr. Duong Thi Nu




HA NOI, 2014

i



CERTIFICATION OF ORIGINALITY

I hereby certify that the thesis entitled “A study on the use of task-based approach
in teaching speaking to the 2
nd
year English majored students” is my own study in
the fulfillment of the requirement for the Degree of Master of Arts at Faculty of
Post-Graduate Studies, University of Languages and International Studies, Vietnam
National University, Hanoi.

Hanoi, 2014

Luong Thi Minh Phuong












ii

Acknowledgements

I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to my respectable
supervisor, Dr. Duong Thi Nu for her restless and sympathetic
encouragement, valuable advice and patient guidance until the completion
of this study.
My sincere thanks also go to my dear colleagues at Vietnam
University of Commerce for all their helps, supports and encouragement
when I encountered difficulties.
I wish to acknowledge my thankfulness to class 1405ENPR5011 of
English Faculty at Vietnam University of Commerce for their enthusiastic
participation in the experiment.
Finally, I am deeply indebted to my beloved mother, my family
members and my post-graduate friends Nguyen Thi Mai Huong, Anh20B,
Ta Thi Mai Huong, Anh20B, Tran Thi Long, Anh20B, Tran Thi Huyen,
Anh20B, Nguyen Hoang Do, Anh20A and others for their sacrifice and
encouragement and care.









iii

Abstracts
The focus of this study was on the use of task-based approach in
teaching speaking for the 2
nd
year English majored students at Vietnam
University of Commerce. A one group pre-test/post-test quasi-
experimental design was employed with the participation of 40 students
from English Faculty. The test results showed that the task-based approach
had a positive impact on students‟ speaking achievement after the
experiment. Another instrument, the questionnaire, was administered to
the participants in order to draw on qualitative data. The data revealed the
positive consequences for significant changes in students‟ learning attitude
and motivation. The task-based project also welcomed favorable
evaluations from the students that would be of great help to the future
applications of task-based language teaching.













iv

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Contents Pages
Acknowledgment ii
Abstract iii
Tables of contents iv
List of Abbreviations vi
List of tables vii
PART A: INTRODUCTION 1
1. Rationale 1
2. Aims of the study 2
3. Scope of the study 2
4. Significance of the study 2
5. Method of the study 2
6. Organization of the study 3
PART B: DEVELOPMENT 5
CHAPTER 1: THEORETICAL BACKGROUND AND LITERATURE REVIEW 5
1.1 Theoretical background 5
1.1.1Business English 5
1.1.2Speaking 6
1.2 Task-based language teaching 9
1.2.1Task-based language teaching 9
1.2.2Definitions of Tasks within TBI 10
1.2.3TBL in a Business English course 12
1.2.4Framework for Task-based Instruction (TBI) 13
1.3 Advantages of TBLT 14
1.4 Misunderstanding about TBLT 15
1.5 Theoretical justification for TBLT 16
CHAPTER 2: RESEARCH METHOD 18
2.1 Context of the study 18
2.2 Participants 18
2.3 Research Design 19
2.3.1 Quasi-experimental Research 19
2.3.2 Design 20
2.3.2 Instrumentations 20
2.4 Data Collection Procedures 22
2.5 Data Analysis Methods 22
CHAPTER 3: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION 24
3.1. Students’ improvement in learning speaking 24
v

3.2. Students’ attitudes towards and motivation of the Task-based project 30
a. Students‟ attitudes 30
b. Level of motivation amongst students adopting the TBL 33
3.3. Students’ difficulties encountered in the TBL project 34
3.4. Students’ expectation of the improvement of the TBL 35
PART C: CONCLUSION 37
4.1Recapitulation 37
4.2 Limitations of the study 38
4.3 Suggestions for further study 38
REFERENCES 40
APPENDIX I I
APPENDIX II III
APPENDIX III IV














vi

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

BE: Business English
ELT: English language Teaching
ESL: English as a Second Language
ESP: English for Specific Purposes
TB: Task-based
TBI: Task-based Instruction
TBLT: Task-based Language Teaching
TBL: Task-based Learning
TBT: Task-based Teaching
VUC: Vietnam University of Commerce












vii

List of Tables

Table 1: Scores of the pre-test and post-test 26
Table 2: Means and Standard Deviations of the scores of the pre-test and post-tes 26
Table 3.1: Paired Samples Test 27
Table 3.2: T-test Results 27
Table 4: Scores of Pre-treatment and post-treatment Tests 29
Table 5: Students’ attitude towards the task-based project 32



List of Graphs

Graph 1: Frequency distribution of the pre-test scores 28
Graph 2: Frequency distribution of the post-test scores 29
Graph 3: Levels of interest in the new speaking learning method 31
Graph 4: Students’ attitude towards the TB project 32
Graph 5: Students’ evaluation of the effectiveness of the TBL approach 33




1

PART A - INTRODUCTION
1. Rationale
Courses in (listening and) speaking skills have a prominent place in language
programmes around the world today. Ever-growing needs for fluency in English
around the world as a consequence of the role of English as the world‟s
international language have given priority to finding more effective ways to teach
English (Richards, 2009). Vietnam is not out of this current trends for English
teaching and learning.
The needs for meeting job requirements put students majored in business to
enhancing their language skills and ability for international business
communication. However, the current situation of teaching and learning now in
Vietnam is of critical problem to solve resulting from inappropriate teaching
materials and instructional techniques. Here comes the same context to what
happens in the teaching and learning ESP at Vietnam University of Commerce. The
traditional method being applied now is mainly teacher-centered and lecture-
oriented, which commonly results in the passivity and non-involvement in speaking
activities of students. From all of the above, finding appropriate methods is an urge
that the teachers here are striving for.
Willis and Willis (2007:1) asserts that “…the most effective way to teach a
language is by engaging learners in real language use in the classroom. This is done
by designing tasks – discussions, problems, games, and so on – which require
learners to use the language for themselves.” Other language researchers and
practitioners like Candlin (1987), Swain (1995) and Hutchinson and Walter (1987)
all agree that TBLT could bring good opportunities for students to master their
language skills through numerous and useful kinds of tasks.
From this suggestion and above initial problems, the author decided to
develop a quasi-experimental research on the use of task-based approach in
teaching speaking for the 2
nd
year English majored students at Vietnam
University of Commerce.
2

2. Aims of the study
This was a quasi-experiment research of which purpose was to investigate
the influence of implementing task-based approach on the second-year-English-
major students at Vietnam University of Commerce (VUC). Specifically, it
addressed the following research question:
- How do second-year English major students at Vietnam University of
Commerce benefit from the implementation of the task-based
approach?
The focus of the study is not only on student‟s achievement in their speaking
skills but also on their changes in learning attitude and motivation.
3. Scope of the study
The study was conducted on 40 second-year English major of the English
Department of Vietnam University of Commerce and restricted to the first half of
the first semester of 2013-2014. The intervention lasted for about one month and a
half with five contacts, each a week.
4. Significance of the study
The study was conducted to find out whether the TB approach fits the needs
of enhancing second-year students‟ speaking ability. As a result, the teachers at
VUC are persuaded to adopt this approach in their teaching not only speaking but
other language skills.
5. Method of the study
a. Sample
The sample consists of 40 students of the early second year in English
Faculty of Vietnam University of Commerce. The students were selected randomly
according to their credit registration at the end of the first year.
The class were to receive TB instruction following an oral pre-test and then
another post-test to check the effect of the new approach on speaking ability.
3

The class were taught by the teacher who is qualified and has 5 years of
experience in teaching business English at VUC.
b. Instrumentation
A quasi-experimental research were employed in this minor thesis to find out
the attitudes and motivation of 2
nd
year students toward speaking as well as the
influence of TBLT on their speaking ability.
In order to collect sufficient and relevant data for the study, two research
techniques were implemented:
- Using an oral pre-test and a post-test to evaluate the teaching and learning
results
- Conducting a semi-structured questionnaire to investigate how the
students are interested in the intervention.
c. Procedures
The steps of the study are executed as follow:
1. Administer the first oral test to check the current speaking ability of the
participants
2. Implementing the TB instruction to the selected group of participants with
a detailed schedule
3. Issuing a survey questionnaire to check students‟ attitudes, understanding
of the experiment period
4. Administer a post-treatment test
5. Analyze the data and discuss the findings.
6. Structure of the study
The study consists of three parts:
Part A – Introduction presents the rationale, aim, scope, significance and
method of the study
Part B – Development: this part comprises of three chapters:
4

- Chapter 1: Theoretical Background and Literature review cover the
overview of the literature in which relevant theoretical background and
reviews of related studies concerning Business English, speaking skills
and task-based language teaching (TBLT).
- Chapter 2 – Research Method continues with the research method
including the participants of the study, the instrumentation, the methods
and procedures of data collection and data analysis.
- Chapter 3 – Findings and Discussion demonstrates the findings
accompanied by data analysis and discussion.
Part C – Conclusion recapitulates the major findings of the study and
represents further recommendations for the implementation of
TBLT.











5

PART B - DEVELOPMENT
CHAPTER 1 – THEORETICAL BACKGROUND AND LITERATURE REVIEW
1.1 THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
1.1.1 Business English
Business English has been receiving much concern from ESP practitioners,
learners and language researchers. Orr (2002) sees Business English as a subfield
that focuses on the development of communicative competence for business settings,
also known as target situations or situated contexts in business.
Business English is a rapidly growing field within the area of English
language Teaching (ELT) and ESP (English for Specific Purposes). It is a
straightforward term that is widely used and readily understood by practitioners, but
its generality can lead to confusion (Johnson, 1993, Pickett, 1986 and Johns, 1986).
The term can be used to describe courses that range from an essentially English for
General Purposes course that includes the teaching of some business lexis, to very
specific courses, either in particular skills such as participating in or chairing
meetings or report writing, or in particular disciplines such as finance or marketing.
BE also differs itself from other ESP fields in that it is often a mix of specific
content (relating to a particular job area or industry), and general content (relating
to general ability to communicate more effectively albeit in business situation)
(Ellis and Johnson, 1994, p.3).
According to Dudley-Evans and John (1998), Business English is difficult to
define and limit in linguistic terms. It therefore „requires the careful research and
design of pedagogical materials and activities for an identifiable group of adult
learner within a specific learning context‟ (Johns and Dudley-Evans, 1991) and
must be „designed to meet specified needs of the learner‟ (Streven, 1988).
Picket (1986) considers Business English as a „mediating language between
the technicalities of particular businesses and the language of the general public‟,
which puts a distinction between General English and Specialist English. To
6

different people, Business English can have different meanings for which suit their
purposes of learning and using English.
Business English refers to the teaching of non-native speakers who needs
English for business purposes usually working in a company at managerial level
and needing to communicate in English with either native speakers or other ESL
speakers with whom they do not share a first language (Dudley-Evans and John,
1996). Therefore, teaching BE is believed to be the teaching of English to adults
working in businesses, or preparing to work in the field of business, i.e. a needs-
directed teaching in which as much as possible must be made job-related, focused
on learners‟ needs and relevant to them.
The content matter in Business English can be divided into two broad
categories of real content and career content and is mentioned in the work of
Dudley-Evans and John (1998). Defining the real content and career content in BE
teaching are of utmost importance to BE teachers.
Career content concerns all activities related to the process of
communication and learning of students including reading, listening, writing and
speaking. By the way of illustration, career content in speaking skills is placed on
the performance-related activities like socializing or providing for personal needs
when on a business trip. The real content deals with the language used in ESP
materials and teaching. As being defined by Dudley-Evans and John (1998), real
content includes linguistic and communicative skills of students‟ communicative
and learning activities.
There is a significant correlation between career content and real content for
the former is made the focal point while the latter is introduced the following career
content requirements. It leads to the achievement of the integration of particular
content with language teaching aims, so that the career content dictates the selection
and sequence of language to be learned by students.
1.1.2 Speaking
7

Various definitions on the concept of speaking have been pointed out by a
number of language researchers. According to Chaney (1998, p. 13), speaking is the
process of building and sharing meaning through the use of verbal and non-verbal
symbols, in a variety of contexts. Accordingly, Brown, (1994); Burns & Joyce,
(1997) and Florez (1999, p.1) consider speaking as an interactive process of
constructing meaning that involves producing and receiving and processing
information. Its form and meaning are dependent on the context in which it occurs,
including the participants themselves, their collective experiences, the physical
environment, and the purposes for speaking.
Speaking plays a vital role in communication. Ur (1996), Bailey and Savage
(1994: vii) claim that, “for many people, speaking is seen as the central skill
because of the desire to communicate with others, often face-to-face and in real
time”. In Ur‟s opinion, speaking is intuitively considered as the most important skill
of the four ones.
According to Haws and Thomas (1994), in an ESL spoken-English course it
is all too easy to make the mistaken assumption that students‟ competence can be
developed by just any kind of speaking activities. If the focus of the course is on
conversational skills, this will not ensure that learners will develop the ability to use
language for informative purposes, which is the aspect of spoken English that
students most often have difficulty with. These skills must be introduced as a
component in their own right and explicitly taught.
Also, the authors state that one of the related problems that teaching speaking
encounters is motivation. In order to encourage language learners to speak without
hesitation, it is advisable for teacher to raise a willingness and a need to talk in each
learner by providing them with familiar topics or situations that they feel they need
or reasonable to talk about. The resultant lack of interest and motivation can be
attributed to the purposelessness of the language they are being asked to produce.
While Ellis & Johnson (1994), Dudley-Evans & St. John (1998) divide
speaking skills in BE into meetings and discussions, oral presentations, telephoning
8

and socializing, Brieger (1997) separates BE into presentations, meetings,
telephoning and negotiations. The following will focus on four common types of
speaking skills employing in BE.
a. Meetings and discussions
Ellis & Johnson (1994:91) and Brieger (1997:48) agree that there are
different types of meetings and discussions covering from large, formal meetings,
small, informal meetings and discussions of all kinds. Each of them requires
specific kinds of language and language skills. Besides, language functions relating
to participating in meetings can be found in negotiating, setting out facts and
figures, expressing opinions, supporting an argument, agreeing and disagreeing,
balancing points of view, make suggestions, promising, interrupting, and adding
new points (Ellis & Johnson: ibid).
b. Oral presentations
Oral presentation, or spoken monologue, can be a feature of EOP and EAP
works (Dudley-Evans & St John, 1998:112) including BE. Presentations are great
way to have students practice all language system areas (vocabulary, grammar,
discourse and phonology) and skills (speaking, reading, listening and writing). They
also build confidence and presenting skills that needed for most people in the world
of work. Presentation skills can be built through different sets of activities and
learning form, take task-based as an example. According to Dudley-Evans and John
(1998), confidence is a significant factor for many people in speaking a language
and classroom feedback should be based on maintaining and increasing confidence.
Teacher can make a motivation for speaking by highlighting and building on their
students‟ strengths as well as discussing positive features first. Areas for
improvement in students‟ oral presentation skills need concrete suggestions of ways
and means of achieving them.
c. Telephoning
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Telephoning can be distinguished as a performance area even though it
actually refers to a channel of communication and may cover a wide range of
situations and types of interactions (Ellis and Johnson, 1994) in business. For non-
native speakers, speaking on the telephone presents a variety of new and difficult
barriers to natural communication because of having no visual supports (graphics,
figures, facial expression, etc.), yet it is an unavoidable and crucial part of the
business world.
d. Socializing
Controversial ideas are raised accordingly whether socializing can be
considered as a performance area of BE. Dudley-Evans and John (1998) alert
language learners of avoiding the misunderstanding of the term „socializing‟ as they
may forget to remain it in business context. The socializing skill consists of three
distinct types of situation and behavior: (1) the transactional situation where
speakers have a particular purpose, (2) the situation where people make contact with
other for business reasons, and (3) where speakers interact with no fixed purpose
other than to pass the time of day or to create a more relaxed atmosphere in which
they can get to know each other better (Ellis and John, 1994).
1.2 Task-based language teaching (TBLT)
1.2.1 Task-based language teaching (TBLT)
Task-based language teaching (TBLT), or task-based language learning
(TBL) or task-based instruction (TBI), was first developed in India by N.S Prabhu
in the 1980s and has become a keen contemporary interest in English language
teaching (ELT) field. Willis (1996), Brown (1994), Littlewood (2004), some of
TBLT proponents, presents it as a logical development of Communicative
Language Teaching (CLT) since the emphasis of TBLT is on communicative
learning and teaching of language.
TBLT has been advocated by a number of language researchers and teachers
in the world despite the fact that its clear definitions are still in search. Say
10

Richards & Rodgers (2
nd
ed. 2001), TBLT is an approach based on the use of tasks
as the core unit of planning and instruction in language teaching. Foster (1999)
points out that different task-based approach all share the common ground: giving
learner tasks to transact rather than items to learn. This means that with TBLT,
learners are provided with an environment that best promotes the natural language
learning process. During this interaction practices, students have chance to
understand each other and to express their own meaning. Richards and Rodgers
(2001) and Larsen-Freeman (2000) give their own definition on the term „task‟, a
frequently used words in classroom for years. In TBLT, tasks are always central
activities where the target language is used for a communicative purpose in order to
achieve an outcome emphasizing on exchanging meaning not producing language
forms. The tasks here cover a wide range of language but a concentration on one
particular structure, function, or vocabulary group. This belief is based on the belief
that student can use language effectively when focusing on the task itself rather than
on the language they are using. Since tasks are basic unit of a TBLT framework, it
is crucial to give clear definitions of tasks.
2.3.1 Definitions of tasks within Task-based Instruction (TBI)
According to Willis (1996), tasks are activities where the target language is
used by the learner for a communicative purpose (goal) in order to achieve an
outcome. That means a task can be anything from doing a puzzle to making an
airline reservation.
Other definitions are provided by a number of scholars like Nunan (2004),
Long (1985)s, Breen (1987), Skehan (1996b). Those concepts are defined on the
basis of scope and perspective. Nunan (2004) describes task as a piece of classroom
work that involves learners in comprehending, manipulating, producing, or
interacting with the target language while their attention is focused on mobilizing
their grammatical knowledge in order to express meaning … rather than form. He
emphasizes the fact that pedagogical tasks involve communicative language use as
well as agrees with Willis and Wills (2001) that tasks differentiate themselves from
grammatical exercises by aiming to achieve an outcomes with a free use of range of
11

language structures. Skehan (1998) proposed a definition of task following Candlin
(1987), Nunan (1989), Long (1989) and others that a task is an activity in which: (1)
meaning is primary, (2) there is some communication to solve, (3) there is some sort
of relationship to comparable real-world activities, (4) task completion has some
priority, and (5) the assessment of the task is in terms of an outcome.
To sum up, tasks can be understood as classroom activities designed for
learner to practice the information exchange and meaning negotiation using the
target language to achieve an outcome.
a. Task types
Nunan (2004, pp.1) and Richards & Rodgers (2001) classify tasks into two
main types: (1) target tasks or real-world tasks and (2) pedagogical tasks. The
former, as the name implies, refer to the use of language in the world beyond the
classroom, and the latter are those that occur in the classroom. Generally, target
tasks tend to give more specific and explicitly related to classroom instruction while
pedagogical tasks includes a series of techniques designed ultimately for students to
perform the target tasks. According to Richards and Rodgers (ibid), targets tasks are
designed to practice or rehearse those activities that are found to be important in a
need analysis and that turn out to be important and useful in the real world. He also
provides examples of pedagogical tasks such as jigsaw, information-gap, problem
solving, decision-making, and opinion exchange tasks.
In nature, tasks are categorized in different ways. Pica, Kanagy and Falodun
(1993) categorizes tasks based on the types of interactions in the product including
jigsaw tasks (learners combine different pieces of information to make a whole,
information-gap tasks (students negotiate to find out and match complementary sets
of information), problem solving tasks (students make decisions on a given problem
through negotiation and discussion), and opinion-exchange tasks (students engage
in discussion and exchange of ideas, an agreement may not need to be reached).
From another viewpoint, Long (1989) suggests six types of tasks in pairs
based on their functions: (1) dealing with information: One-way tasks (describing
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information without pre-reading), two-way tasks (accessing final results of a
problem solving activities); (2) dealing with task preparation: planned tasks (for
dealing with interviews), unplanned tasks (face-to-face conversations); (3)
convergent tasks (problem solving through social interaction) and divergent tasks
(exchanging information to achieve the same outcome).
b. Task components
Drawing on the conceptualizations of Candlin (1987), Wright (1987a) and
some others, Nunan (1989:48) analyzes task in terms of its components: goals,
input, procedures, teacher role, learner role, and settings. The diagram of task and
its components is displayed as follow:
Goals Teacher role
Input TASK Learner role
Activities Settings
Figure 1: Task components
- Goals are the general intentions behind any given task.
- Input refers to the data that form the point of departure for the tasks.
- Activities specify what learners will actually do with the input.
- Teachers and learners roles refer to the part that learners and teachers are
expected to play.
- Settings refer to the classroom arrangements carrying out the tasks.
1.2.3 Task-based learning in a Business English course
According to Ellis and Johnson (1994:39), in case of applying TBLT in
teaching BE, more attention should be paid to such following points:
- Task simulation must be the fabric of a business course as should fit in the
learner‟s real situation as closely as possible.
- Practice tasks may comprise of long or short ones, from asking learners to
describe a company‟s product to setting up a telephone role-play or a
13

simulated meeting or getting them to prepare a short presentation defending a
certain point of view.
- Within classroom environment, tasks must be deeply defined so that the
learners know exactly what the setting is, who they are supposed to be, what
sorts of things they are supposed to communicate in certain business
contexts, and what is expected in performance.
- It is essential to set up the tasks thoroughly in order to get maximum value
from it as much time can be wasted if learners do not know what they are
supposed to be doing.
Tasks chosen depend on the needs of the learners in relation to their jobs. If
the learners are experienced ones, more supporting materials will be referred to the
tasks as well as relied on only minimal input from the learners.
1.2.4 The framework for task-based instruction (TBI)
Willis (1996:38) presents TBLT in three sections: pre-task, task cycle, and
language focus.
The pre-task stage aims at exploring the topic with the students to raise the
schematic knowledge of it, and to provide a reason for real communication as well
as providing a model of similar task to make the language available so noticing can
occur (Schmidt, 1990). Concurrently, this stage covers the brainstorming and mind
maps activities. Skehan (1998) accordingly proposes the activities used in pre-task
stage including a model to introduce, mobilise, recycle language, to ease processing
load (content focus), and to push learners to try new form of language (Sato, 1988;
Chafe, 1994). Learners may be asked to engage in pre-task planning with which
they can be guided language or content focus, or there is even no planning needed at
all (Foster and Skehan, 1996; Skehan and Foster, 1997).
Willis (ibid) calls the second stage during task as “task cycle” that includes
three sub-stages: (1) task (student perform the task and teacher monitors); (2)
planning (students prepare to report to the whole class and teacher provides help
with the language). (3) reports (chosen/volunteer groups to present before class).
According to Skehan (1998), there is a number of options which may
influence attentional availability: (1) time pressure: the speed with which a task
needs to be complete (time limit or no time limit) (Yuan and Ellis, 2003); (2)
14

support: whether to allow students access to the input data while performing the
task (Robinson, 1995; Brown et al, 1984; Foster and Skehan, 1997); (3) surprise:
introducing some surprise element into the task (Foster and Skehan, ibid), and (4)
control: giving learners opportunity to choose the way they like to do the task
(Kuramadivelu, 1993; Breen, 1997).
The post-task stage is called as „language focus‟ that includes consciousness-
raising activities and practice-oriented work of words, structures, and functions
required for a communicative purpose and relevant to learners (Willis, 1996).
Meanwhile, Skehan (1998) suggests altering attentional balance through post-task
activities such as public performance (Samuda et al, 1996), analyzing task
performance (Lynch, 1998). This stage also covers the reflection and consolidation
that are to encourage learners to restructure, and to use the task and its performance
as input to help in the process of „noticing the gap‟ and to develop language (Willis
and Willis, 1996; Johns, 1991). Bygate (1996, 1999), Lynch and Maclean (2000,
2001) believes within the cycles of task-based activities, there may be task
repetition.
1.3 Advantages of TBLT
Task-based Language Teaching is an application of second language teaching
informed by the most recent research findings on second Language acquisition
(SLA). As such, it plays an important role in current language pedagogy (Solares,
2006). Amongst advocates of TBLT are Ritchie (2003), Skehan (1996b), Bowen
(2000), or Nunan (2005). TBLT has the advantage of getting the student to use
their skills at their current level. To help develop language through its use. It has the
advantage of getting the focus of the student toward achieving a goal where
language becomes a tool, making the use of language a necessity. Ritchie (2003),
consider TBLT a better approach over traditional ones because learners are exposed
to richer language, namely the comprehensible input.
Skehan (1996b) indicated that the strength of TBLT is that it provides learners
the opportunity to make use of lexical resources they have either from previous
knowledge or the pre-task input. Then through interactions or negotiations of
meanings, students can eventually develop greater fluency (p.22).
15

Bowen (2000) and Frost (2004) highlight the advantages of TBLT over the
more traditional Present, Practice, Produce (PPP) approach as it allows students to
be free of language control, not the pre-selected items and focus on form in general,
not any the single ones. In addition, Nunan (2005) added that “TBL does provice a
flexible, functionally compatible and contextual sensitive approach for many
teachers, as well as the learners”. He also emphasizes that the attractiveness of TBL
relates not only to the enumerated benefits as “it provides rather a useful practice
that can be applied across many approaches, as well as boundaries. TBL may
provide an enduring legacy that meets the test of the time. It may also provide a
curricular and syllabus framework of flexibility that logically students and teachers
will be drawn to even if it need not to be the central features for certain places”.
1.4 Misunderstanding about TBLT
Ellis (2009) figured out the misunderstandings about TBLT. The most
common misconceptions are listed as follows:
1. Tasks are not clearly distinguish from other terms like exercises or
activities as Widdowson (2003) claims that the tasks‟ defining criteria are
loosely formulated.
2. The sole aim of TBLT is to develop communicative fluency and there is no
room for focusing on form.
3. TBLT only focuses on oral skills, especially speaking
4. TBLT requires group work
5. The teacher‟s role is simply to manage students‟ performance of tasks.
6. TBLT requires teachers and students to use English all the time
7. TBLT is only suitable for ESL contexts.
8. TBLT provides learners with very little input
Those misconceptions have arisen for a number of reasons but named two in
particular: misrepresentations of the theoretical background for TBLT and failures
to acknowledge the differences existing amongst advocates of TBLT like
Seedhouse (e.g. 1999; 2005), Sheen (1994; 2003), Swan (2005a; 2005b),
Widdowson (2003), Carless (2005), and Littlewood (2007).
16

It is obvious that TBLT allows interactions to take place depending on three
factors: the proficiency of the students, the design features of tasks, and the method
of implementation. Therefore, more advanced learners performing more complex
tasks will engage in more linguistically rich interactions, especially if they are given
the opportunity to engage in pre-task and online planning (Yuan and Ellis, 2003).
Moreover, the rich evidence from task-based literature can firmly show that tasks
can result in highly complex language use. Different kinds of tasks in different
levels bring students chance to employ the TBA flexibly from group works (i.e.
problem solving, socializing) or individually (input-based tasks, information gap
tasks, for example, according to Prabhu). Besides, the role of the teachers do not
show only in facilitating learners to understand what to do but also in the pre-task
and post-task stages as correctors and providers of new language. Also, the TBLT
do not prohibit learners from using L1 (mother tongue) all the time as sociocultural
theory views the L1 as a useful cognitive tool for scaffolding L2 learner production
and facilitating private speech (see, for example, Anton and DiCamilla, 1998); and
Learners make effective use of the L1 to establish the goals for a task and the
procedures to be followed in tackling it.
1.5 Theoretical justification for TBLT
TBLT has evolved in a respond to a better understanding of the way languages
are learned, claimed Foster (1999), that is, language is acquired through
communication (Howard, 1984). This comment is based on the research findings in
SLA (second language acquisition) that learners do not acquire target language in
the order it is presented to them no matter how carefully teachers and textbooks
organize it (Foster, 1999; Skehan, 1996). The rationale for the employment of
communicative tasks is based on contemporary theories of language learning and
acquisition, which claim that language use is the driving force for language
development (Long, 1989; Prabhu, 1987). For example, advocates of such theories
(see Pica, Kanagy, and Falodun, 1983) suggest that, as Norris et al. (1998) put it,
the best way to learn and teach a language is through social interactions. […they]
allow students to work toward a clear goal, share information and opinions,
negotiate meaning, get the interlocutor’s help in comprehending input, and receive

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