Description or Prescription for Task-Based Instruction? A Reply to Littlewood

| March 28, 2007
Description or Prescription for Task-Based Instruction? A Reply to Littlewood

Keywords: Tasks, Task-based instruction

Anthony Bruton
Departamento de Lengua Inglesa, Universidad de Sevilla, Spain

Bio Data
Anthony Bruton is lecturer in foreign language teaching methodology at the University of Seville, Spain. He also teaches research methods to PhD students. He directs a research group composed of both university and secondary school teachers whose main aim is to conduct classroom-based empirical research. At present the research group is involved in a fairly large-scale medium term project into task-based teaching in secondary schools in the Seville area.

This short paper analyses a recent proposal by Littlewood (2004) on the task-based approach. Littlewood offers two dimensions, task involvement and task focus, on which to place activities in the language classroom. However, it is argued that, at best, the dimensions might serve for description, but even then they have shortcomings, and are not useful in the discussions on methodological prescription. Although the definition of the types of task that are central to the task-based instruction (TBI) debate is significant, the crucial issues revolve around the centrality of the peer work tasks with the target language as the medium of communication, and the language learning that might (or might not) accrue from them, at particular levels of proficiency. I am afraid I cannot resist a bit of debate, so I am very glad that Littlewood (2004) took me up on the issue of tasks and task-based instruction (TBI) in my two contributions to the ELT Journal 56/3, particularly the definition of tasks. However, since Littlewood currently teaches in Hong Kong and given the recent issue of the Asian EFL Journal (8/3)on tasks, I thought this journal might be a very apt alternative forum, given its professional orientation and its readership.

See page 227-235

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