TBLT for Teacher Development
Implementing an Online Course
María Elena Solares
[email protected]
Department of Applied Linguistics - CELE
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
September, 2007
Objective
 Through
direct experience in learning tasks
participants will analyze and implement the
principles of TBLT in order to assess its
usefulness in their specific teaching context
This objective derived from 4 premises:
Direct Experience: Do as you preach
 Implement: Performance-based curriculum design
 Assess: not TBLT as the “golden method” but to
raise teachers’ awareness of recent research in
SLA
 Addressed to Teachers: main agents of change

Making SLA research accessible to Ts & raising teachers’ awareness of their teaching
habits and of the kind of teachers they are to deal with change in language teaching
Reaching my course objectives implied:




Finding the way of making teachers experience
TBI
Defining my concept of task in T Ed
Defining the aspects of TBI which were applicable
to teacher education
Defining what my framework for TBL in teacher
education would be
TBL Experience: what I wanted
Involve Ts in learning “x” + analyze experience = TBI
However:

“x”: different from English learning

Time constraints: 60 hours

Need to clarify concepts, present TBI in a historical
context and respond to Ts’ needs analysis
TBL experience: what was achieved

Organizing knowledge around a main task

Main task: implementing = learning by doing




Having a pre-task stage with mini-tasks which prepared Ts
to achieve the main task
Pre-tasks which allowed Ts to notice important features of
tasks and of TBI necessary for the implementation
Post-task: identify teachers’ major problems and interests
First module in English in ALAD diploma  possibility to
explore L2 development in a content based course
Tasks in T Ed (Crookes, Prabhu, Ellis, Puren)
A work plan where the primary focus is on
solving a real-world teaching and learning
problem and which promotes teachers’
reflection, questioning and searching for
solutions. This work plan is usually reflected in
a product or outcome.
Criteria for Tasks in T Ed
Tasks (Ellis)
Tasks in T Ed

Work plan

Work plan

Focus on meaning

Focus on solving a problem

Real-world processes of
language use

Real-world teaching and
learning problems

Four skills

Problems in the 4 skills

Cognitive processes

Reflective, cognitive processes

Communicative outcome

Outcome
Course Features
Course Content

Unit 0:
Speak to us of Teaching

Unit 1:
What is Task Based Language Teaching?

Unit 2:
Models for Language Teaching

Unit 3:
What is a “task”?

Unit 4:
Implementing TBLT

Unit 5:
Assessing TBLT
Course Structure
Problem
Input
Major Problem
UNIT 0
Speak to us of Teaching
UNIT 1
What is
TBLT?
UNIT 2
Models for LT
UNIT 4
Implementing
TBLT
UNIT 5
Assessing TBLT
UNIT 3
What is a
task?
Pre
Task
Task
Post
Task
Framework for TBL in Teacher Education (Puren)
STATEMENT OF A PROBLEM
Approached from teachers´ representations or
beliefs about that problem
INPUT
Through articles, models, interactive activities, online
presentations engaging teachers in constant reflection and
search
INDENTIFICATION OF A MAJOR PROBLEM
Attempt to solve a problem  a major problem
(no unique, universal solution)
Course Components

Course platform: units, personal folder, forum, gallery,
tools (progress log, evaluation rubrics, course schedule,
peers’ profile, etc.)
Course Components (cont.)

Tasks which promoted collaborative work and interaction at
different levels:



Tutor-student: folder
Student-student: forum
Student-content: interactive activities
Course Components (cont.)

Samples of TBL implementation: interviews with
implementers
Course Components (cont.)

Free online articles, books, books or articles summaries

Constant cycles of self-evaluation
The Online Course

Unit 0

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 5
Preliminary Results
Feedback Questionnaire
Course strengths

Organization
5 sts: very well organized
 1 sts: some aspects were, others weren’t (tech. sup.)


Objectives


6 sts: were reached and went beyond my expectations
Content

6 sts: was very good, very useful and relevant to my
teaching practice
Course strengths (cont.)

Materials


Evaluation criteria


6 sts: very useful and illustrative
6 sts: very adequate
Evaluation rubrics

6 sts: were useful and clear to understand what was
expected from me in each of the activities
Course impressions

Interesting

Edifying

Useful

Recommendable

Seed for new projects

Attractive and fruitful

At the cutting edge


Motivating

Very good

Excellent course
It invited me to reflect and
improve my classes

Educational

Some times tiring


Innovative
It overcomes teachers’ isolation
at work
Things to improve

Time allotted to different units
3 sts: enough
 2 sts: more time should be allotted to each unit


1 sts: limited, some units needed more time (planning a
TBL lesson, designing/transforming a task, implementation)

No. of activities assigned for each unit
5 sts: enough
 1 sts: too many

Things to improve (cont.)

Kinds of problems you found in the course


6 sts: technical (folder was not working properly, lack of
support from technician)
In future courses
3 sts: WWW resources should be better exploited
 2 sts: it was ok for me
 1 sts: audio, video-tapes and/or CDROM should be
included

Suggestions for the course

Improve technical problems

More time should be considered for some activities


Reduce a couple of readings, specifically in unit 4
(implementation)
Course schedule should be extended to assimilate
contents better
Conclusions & Insights
Conclusions & Insights





It is possible to make SLA research accessible to busy
practicing teachers
The proposed approach for teacher education generated
reflection and hopefully change in teachers’ practices
The course motivated teachers to further explore TBI in
their classes
Presenting TBI in a historical context resulted useful and
enlightening for teachers (against omitting unit 1)
Need for long-term teacher follow-up was expressed and it
is also necessary  study groups
Conclusions & Insights (cont.)





Instruments to measure teachers’ behavior or views before and
after the course are necessary
Transforming exercises into tasks & writing TBL lesson plans were
considered motivating, useful, challenging, meaningful, real-life
tasks
Willis´ framework and Ellis’ approach to understanding “task” and
TBL resulted enlightening and accessible. Both allowed Ts to look
at TBL as a whole, as a larger pedagogic plan around a task
Evaluating TBLT: rejection to Swan’s criticisms
Task vs. exercise debate: Ts had clear idea about differences
between task and exercise
Conclusions & Insights (cont.)

TBLT course + L2 teaching = more meaningful exp.
(Ts apply what the learn + explore from the classroom + tutor &
colleagues’ feedback)



More time for planning, implementing and assessing
teachers’ experience is necessary
Online education allowed sharing and enrichment from
different teaching contexts + “minimizing Ts’ isolation”
Swapping units 2 and 3
Future Research


Need to further explore TBI in teacher education
Need for instruments to measure Ts´ change in
ways of thinking, attitudes and behavior

Need for teachers’ follow-up  study groups

Results in wider/different communities
international
 where L2 is an objective

Future Research (cont.)

New areas of research
 The role of tutor’s feedback in teacher development
 Ts’ interaction in discussion forums
 Knowledge building in online education
 When and how teachers’ awareness takes place
Samples of Tasks
Task 1: Presenting Willis’ TBL framework

Pre-task

Poem Pre-Task Activities

Teacher’s role Teacher's Role

Mind map Pre-task.pdf

Task Cycle Task Cycle.pdf

Language Focus Language Focus.pdf
Task 2: Task vs. Exercise Debate


Participation in a debate Task-Exercise Debate.pdf
Supported argumentation (from someone else’s
shoes)
A discussion is started from a concrete problem
 Ts are asked to participate in discussion from a point of
view contrary to their own
 Each teacher must act as a person with different views
from his/her own

Task 3: Creating evaluation instrument

Ts read a text and prepare an evaluation instrument
based on its content for a different group to answer
Instrument 1 instrument 1.pdf
 Instrument 2 instrument 2.pdf

Main Task: implementing TBLT




“Taskifying” textbook units
Teaching 2 parallel courses: same objectives +
different methodology (“traditional” vs. TBLT) +
exam + compare results
Analyzing textbooks from TBL perspective
Implementing TBL lessons and task created by Ts +
observing sts’ response + writing Ts’ insights
Other pedagogical tasks
Matching concepts, interviewing colleagues, finding
similarities and differences in teachers’
implementation of TBI, inferring concepts, reading
to agree or disagree, analyzing different authors’
points of view, etc.
 Tasks Characteristics (Skehan): motivating,
meaningful, useful, at the appropriate level of
difficulty
 Course tasks lead teachers to comprehend, to
analyze, to synthesize, to evaluate and to apply

Thank you!
[email protected]
PRE-TASK ACTIVITIES
Engage your students
In pre-task activities
Advance preparation
So goals are attained
Defining objectives
Will surely be needed
Let students recall
Eavesdrop here and there
And words will sure flow
Introduce vital phrases
And language as well
To make students confident
For whatever may come
But don’t you despair
If problems do arise
As pre-task activities
Are only the start
Teacher’s Role
What is TBLT? (unit 1)




What is TBL, its objectives, its theoretical support?
What does TBL consist on? How does it work? What are
the advantages and disadvantages of TBL for learners and
teachers? How efficient is TBL?
How much of CLT is there in TBL? What is the difference
between TBL and CLT?
Where does TBL come from? Who created it, when and
where? Who is/are its proponent(s)? What audience is TBL
addressed to? For how long has it been used?
Models for Language Teaching (unit 2)





How can I use TBL in my classes? How is grammar
approached in TBL?
Does TBL allow for focus on form?
Does TBL have any implications in lesson planning? How
can I plan TBL classes? How can activities be sequenced
in TBL?
Can TBL be applied to the 4 skills?
What kind of activities does TBL suggest for learners to go
beyond communication and be able to automatize specific
structures?
What is a task? (unit 3)

What is a task?

What is the main difference between a task and an activity?

What makes a “task” a task?

Why should we use tasks? What is their rationale? What do
they consist on?

What type of tasks?

Are tasks always oral, written or both?

Can tasks be used in all languages and for any topic?
Course Structure: Principles of TBI (Skehan)

Instruction should allow for the experimentation and
use of the model: pre, during and post task
(implementing)

Selection of tasks should lead to a larger pedagogic
plan: implementation of TBL

There should be conscious cycles of evaluation: selfevaluations + evaluation rubrics
Numa Markee (1997:80)
“From the perspective of practicing foreign
language teachers, SLA research is rarely worth
reading because the ideas researchers discuss are
too distant from teachers´ everyday classroom
concerns.
Furthermore, even when researchers discuss ideas
that are potentially relevant to teachers, they often
express themselves in such opaquely technical
language that teachers are “turned off” from the
whole idea of research”.
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