Behind the Scenes
Teachers often look for ways to teach language acquisition in a way that encourages learners to use language creatively and spontaneously. They ask themselves how can I make this task meaningful and therefore memorable? How can I design lessons that help students process language more naturally? The standard teaching style of Presentation, Practice, and Production, or PPP, falls shorts. Many students are able to meet the task objectives for the lesson and then forget the structure post lesson use. This results in students continuing to make the same mistakes they were making before the lesson. One alternative approach to PPP is known as Task Based Language Teaching or TBLT. TBLT primarily focuses on the task and language learning becomes the instrument to complete the task. These activities usually reflect real life and learners focus on meaning. They are free to use the language how they see fit. Teachers act as facilitators and interject to offer well-planned corrective feedback or useful phrases. Forms of TBLT include playing games, solving problems, and sharing information or experiences.
In the TYO STEP II EFL program, students discover and work with English in the form of games, riddles, projects and sharing experiences. TBLT can be seen at all levels. At the intermediate/advanced level, students are currently working on a yearbook. This is a complicated task where students not only are using their English language skills to complete the tasks at hand but they are challenged to work with each other in their different committees to compromise, find solutions and make decisions. Compromise, solutions finding, and decision making are highly complex language skills and are difficult to teach authentically with PPP. A task such as creating a yearbook is something students invest in personally. In the end, they see their success met in a tangible outcome. Students are using their creativity in both the language and in the task itself to create something memorable and meaningful with their language skills. If memory is attached to meaningful experiences, tasks are an experiential way for students to retain new learning objectives.
Outside of the classroom, learners are not given a dialog to read when communicating. There is no phrase to memorize that will express some of the intricacies needed to be understood properly. Language is a highly creative art form. Practicing TBLT in the classroom brings the outside authentic world into the classroom helping to further communication and ultimately teaches crucial problems solving skills in a safe environment. This gives students the confidence to use a second language for its ultimate purpose, using a language outside of the classroom.
The English as a Foreign Language (EFL) program is part of STEP! II, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.
Lyndsey, EFL Fellow, Spring 2016