Engaging Students Through Task-Based Language Instruction

Natalia Dudnik, Ellen Serafini, Carrie Bonilla, Xi Chen, Raluca Romaniuc, Helen Guglielmi

Session Information

Year: 2017 | Time: 2:45pm-4:15pm | Location: WORKSHOP: Johnson Center (Room A)

Abstract

BRIEF SESSION DESCRIPTION:

Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) is a theoretical and pedagogical framework that originates from the field of second language acquisition in which the construct of task informs syllabus design as well as classroom instruction. Tasks are identified to meet students' real-world communicative needs outside the classroom. TBLT has been empirically shown to foster higher-order analytical/problem solving skills and to facilitate students' ability to understand and use language in meaningful contexts through collaboration and negotiation of meaning. TBLT prepares and supports students to be highly functional communicators in various professional (and personal) settings. In this roundtable, presenters will share concrete examples of how they incorporate tasks and task-based learning objectives in their courses and lead a discussion on ways that task-based approaches to language teaching can be used in other academic disciplines to better prepare students to be successful. Some of the strategic questions to be discussed include (i) What constitutes a meaningful task?; (ii) How can tasks be structured and implemented in the classroom via scaffolding and other methods?; (iii) How can we utilize technology to support task-based learning?; and (iv) How might the sociohistorical and sociopolitical context of different languages taught in the US influence the types of tasks deemed to be meaningful and relevant?

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FULL ABSTRACT: Oftentimes, undergraduate students have low motivation, find the course content irrelevant, too hard or too easy, and have difficulty completing assignments.  This roundtable will discuss pedagogical principles of task-based language instruction and illustrate how they can be applied in different instructional contexts. Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) is a theoretical and pedagogical framework that originates from the field of second language acquisition and language pedagogy in which the construct of task informs curricula and syllabus design as well as classroom instruction. Tasks are identified to meet students' real-world communicative needs outside the classroom. They are intended to and have been empirically shown to foster higher-order analytical and problem solving skills and to facilitate students' ability to understand and use language in meaningful contexts through collaboration and negotiation of meaning. In other words, task-based instruction has the potential to prepare students to be highly functional bilinguals in various professional (and personal) settings. 

In this roundtable, several language educators in the Modern and Classical Languages Department discuss concrete examples of how they incorporate tasks and task-based learning objectives in their classrooms. We also discuss ways that task-based approaches to language teaching might better prepare students to be successful in other academic disciplines. Some of the strategic questions to be discussed in this roundtable include (i) What constitutes a meaningful task?; (ii) How can tasks be structured and implemented in the classroom via scaffolding and other methods?; (iii) How can we utilize technology to support task-based learning?; and (iv) How might the sociohistorical and sociopolitical context of different languages taught in the US influence the types of tasks deemed to be meaningful and relevant?

Keywords

active learning; active learning classrooms; student engagement; student motivation; critical thinking

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