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Chapter 1 - What is task-based language teaching?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 February 2010

David Nunan
Affiliation:
The University of Hong Kong
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Summary

Introduction and overview

The concept of ‘task’ has become an important element in syllabus design, classroom teaching and learner assessment. It underpins several significant research agendas, and it has influenced educational policymaking in both ESL and EFL settings.

Pedagogically, task-based language teaching has strengthened the following principles and practices:

  • A needs-based approach to content selection.

  • An emphasis on learning to communicate through interaction in the target language.

  • The introduction of authentic texts into the learning situation.

  • The provision of opportunities for learners to focus not only on language but also on the learning process itself.

  • An enhancement of the learner's own personal experiences as important contributing elements to classroom learning.

  • The linking of classroom language learning with language use outside the classroom.

In this chapter, I will map out the terrain for the rest of the book. I will firstly define ‘task’ and illustrate the ways in which it will be used. I will then relate it to communicative language teaching and set it within a broader curriculum framework, as well as spelling out the assumptions about pedagogy drawn on by the concept. In the final part of the chapter I will look at the impact of the concept on the learner, on one hand, and on institutional policy and practice on the other.

Defining ‘task’

Before doing anything else, I need to define the central concept behind this book.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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