Task-based Language Teaching in Foreign Language Education

    The purpose of this project is two-fold: (i) to design, implement, and evaluate a prototype task-based language teaching (TBLT) program for tertiary foreign language education; and (ii) to assess the relative merits of a focus on forms, a focus on form, and a focus on meaning, in such a program. The target languages are Korean (demonstration language) and ESL, with ESL included primarily because focus on form techniques and prototype materials for task-based teaching that are developed in English can be utilized as templates for the production of materials in additional languages. The teacher training modules for both TBLT methodology and focus-on-form curriculum innovations, together with prototype modules of task-based materials (Korean and English versions), will be disseminated to the foreign language community at large through NFLRC publications and specifically to teachers of Korean in a national workshop in Summer 2001.

    Part I: A prototype TBLT program for tertiary foreign language education. Following the schema laid out in a series of publications on task-based language teaching since the mid-1980’s by Michael Long of the University of Hawai‘i, this project consists of the following steps for each language:

    • A needs analysis and means analysis, using a variety of sources and methods.
    • Based on the results of the needs analysis and means analysis, design of part of a task-based syllabus, including the development of materials and accompanying task-based tests.
    • Implementation of the materials by project-trained teachers (starting with Korean) in regular university language courses, with some classes tape-recorded and the resulting tapes transcribed, coded and analyzed as part of the data for formative evaluation.
    • Testing of student achievement using a small battery of both linguistically focused, and task-based, criterion-referenced tests, written specifically for the modules of materials.
    • An evaluation of the course, including analysis of the effectiveness of the needs analysis and means analysis, in-service teacher education, materials, and tests. The evaluation will use a range of sources (domain experts, teachers, students, applied linguists) and both qualitative and quantitative methods.

    Part II: Focus on form in task-based language teaching. This part of the project will consist of a study to assess the effectiveness of use of a focus on form as part of the methodological package for delivering the task-based courses outlined above. Depending on how many classes are available and whether random assignment of students proves feasible, the study will be conducted either with a true experimental design or through a pre- or quasi-experimental design using intact classes. Three treatments will be compared: task-based language teaching with a focus on meaning only, task-based language teaching with a focus on form as well as meaning, and traditional teaching (focus on forms) with no task-based component. Pre-tests, post-tests, classroom observations and the analysis of class transcripts will be used to compare the treatments.

    Description of final form of results

    • An in-service training module for TBLT methodology, most likely in the form of a video plus an accompanying manual that will include instruments for conducting needs analyses, means analyses, instruments for testing, and guidelines for evaluation.
    • Prototype modules of task-based materials in both English (generic) and Korean (demonstration language).
    • An in-service teacher training module for focus on form, plus a manual on how to implement and evaluate such a curriculum innovation.


    Spring 2000

    • Develop instruments for conducting needs analyses and means analyses, with accompanying user’s guide (both in Korean and in English fo